words fae isabella mchardy (@izzscarlett)
Claire Boucher, more commonly known as Grimes, has been flooding the internet with dreamy dance-inducing electro-pop for the best part of a decade. She succeeds where few other artists would dare to venture, managing to span across genres and appealing to various demographics, from brash ravers to gentle introverts. Her latest album, Art Angels, was released back in 2015 and given her recent clashes with record label 4AD, it might be a while until any new material drops. In the meantime, let’s look back at her top ten tracks.
Grimes manages to illustrate the uncomfortable bitterness of a relationship coming to an end while being at her most magically soft and dreamlike. This track changes pace as the song progresses as extreme high-pitched vocals go around in circles. ‘You touch me once again and somehow it stings/ ’cause I know it is the end’, her tone, refreshingly, remains calm despite the apparent heartbreak.
Rosa is one of Grimes’ most simple songs but manages to stick out as one of the strongest on her debut Geidi Primes. The bassline finds a way of sticking in your head even after the albums come to a close. Her vocals soar as layers and loops of various instruments build up gently.
Genesis is one of Grimes’ most beloved songs and the lead single from her 2012 album Visions. A bouncy beat, blankets of synth and ethereal vocals; it’s everything good about Grimes in one digestible four-minute bite.
7. My Sister Says the Saddest Things
Grimes‘ second album Halifaxa is a strong follow up to her debut. The entire record is beautifully uncomfortable, but it is My Sister Says the Saddest Things that changes the pace. Shaky percussion and childlike vocals blend together perfectly. The rawness of the lyrics is haunting, but somehow sound hopeful.
Vanessa is another one of Grimes‘ most well-known songs. She said in an interview with Dazed that her aim was to make a typical pop song but with eccentric elements. It appears she was successful. The beat could feel at home at a club, but the lyrics, as simple as they are, feel trancelike and distant.
Go was originally written for Rihanna, but the superstar ultimately turned down the offer. This is just as well because we could’ve missed out on this banger of a collaboration between Grimes and Blood Diamonds. It starts sounding like a standard magical Grimes track but builds into a huge bass-heavy EDM-esque composition.
4. Flesh without Blood
Flesh without Blood is a standout track from 2015’s Art Angels. It’s a fast paced and punchy pop song, and a step in a different direction for Grimes. Compared to her older, darker tracks, Flesh without Blood is bold. The vocals still echo, but they are clearer and more assured. ‘I don’t care anymore’ floods over the constant percussion, suggesting that Grimes is no longer hiding behind intangible lyrics.
3. Shadout Mapes
The start of Shadout Mapes is a far cry from the pop-y Grimes we know today. Released on her debut album Geidi Primes, this track is dark, eerie and heart-wrenching. Percussion and strings fold over wailing vocals, creating one of the songs that showed us Grimes was one to look out for.
2. Kill V. Maim
This is the strongest song on Art Angels. The mix of vocals is what makes it so special. Grimes jumps from sugary singing to screaming to some of her most ‘normal’ sounding vocals in her discography. It blends together to make an aggressively captivating song, one that Boucher said she wrote with the idea of it playing during an action sequence in a movie.
The number one spot has to go to Oblivion. Although one of Grimes’ most successful tracks, Oblivion deals with the intimidating and difficult topic of sexual assault and the aftermath it creates. Grimes isn’t a stranger to creating contradicting sounds. Often, she goes for cute nonsensical lyrics and pairs them with dark intense production. Or in this case, the opposite. Oblivion is a syrupy sweet dance song accompanied by morbid lyrics. Paired with the music video, in which Grimes puts herself in male-dominated spaces, this song encapsulates the devastating effect assault can have. But it also shows the empowerment that comes with reclaiming yourself while you heal.