As I enter both my early 20s and the 2020 decade, I’ve looked back to see that there are many moments of my teenage years dominated by Grimes’ music and persona.
I discovered the musical genius that is Claire Boucher, a.k.a. Grimes, via Tumblr in 2014 and was completely fascinated with her lilac-colored hair and fringe bangs, which more than enough are two completely valid reasons to fall in love with a singer—especially in 2014 and on Tumblr.
She released Art Angels about a year after I first discovered her, and if I wasn’t hooked before, I was in love now. Lyrics like “If you’re looking for a dream girl / I’ll never be your dream girl / Living in the real world / Looking for a dream girl” off of “Butterfly” completely revolutionized my fragile 15-year-old teenage-girl self-esteem.
I spent my summer before my senior year of high school sitting at the downtown Berkeley BART station listening to “Kill v. Maim,” scribbling in my journal rather than registering to take the SATs for a second time.
I would walk to class most days my senior year with my earbuds glued in, listening to her earlier Visions and Halfaxa albums.
But the one pivotal Grimes-in-conjunction-to-my-life moment I’ll never forget was the day of the Met Gala when her relationship with Elon Musk went public in 2018. That day already felt momentous because I’d submitted my deposit to transfer to a New York liberal arts college that I felt was a better fit both personally and academically. It also felt like a step closer in the direction of a college experience I wanted, compared to my freshman year of college thus far.
College newspaper was one of the happiest and most fulfilling experiences at my first college, and I’ll never forget the uproar of surprise that went down at our weekly Monday night staff meeting—I even jokingly pitched an article about their relationship which was backed by some writers, but was shot down by an editor.
After almost five years, Grimes is back with Miss Anthropocene.
Miss Anthropocene takes on a darker turn from Grimes’ previous albums. Miss Anthropocene takes on a pun of “Miss” and “Misanthrope” but also referencing “Anthropocene”—a term I remember vaguely from the geology class I took freshman year of college, but according to Google Dictionary is “relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.”
Whereas Art Angels feels like a celestial musical journey through Grimes’ creative and personal journey that feels almost relatable, Miss Anthropocene’s lyrics tap into political and technological themes that haven’t been present in Grimes’ music before.
“We Appreciate Power” featuring musician HANA was the first single off Miss Anthropocene released in November 2018. Grimes sings, “People like to say that we're insane / But AI will reward us when it reigns / Pledge allegiance to the world's most powerful computer / Simulation—it's the future.”
Grimes’ unapologetic persona has always been a reason why I’m drawn to her musical projects, no matter how eclectic they are. I became acquainted with Grimes and HANA’s collaborations through a feature in NYLON in 2017 in which Grimes interviewed HANA, asking if HANA believed she could fight Representative Paul Ryan, and if so, what her fight tactics would be.
“Delete Forever,” the second single off Miss Anthropocene, reflects on Grimes’ experience with her friends’ opiate addiction. Grimes discussed with Genius how Lil Peep’s death in 2017 had greatly influenced writing this song.
In “You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around,” Grimes sings, “If you don't bleed, then you don't die / Cross my heart and hope to fly.” I first listened to this the morning the album was released, during a particularly rough patch at the beginning of my study-abroad experience in Amsterdam. I’d been grappling with some unexpected events that tested me emotionally—would I have to reach out to people, open up and admit that I needed help, or would I have to keep it in to save face?
Though I highly doubt Grimes wrote those lyrics to describe my challenges with coping with the transitions of studying abroad in a new country, I’ve always loved music in general for that ability: to help and transcend people in different situations through lyrics and music.
It always fascinated me how some people could listen to one song, but the lyrics and melodies could remind people of such vastly different memories and emotions.
Even as Grimes’ musical projects transcend and transform in different directions, I’m still amazed at the consistency that her music has in my life, especially in areas of personal growth and changes of growing up.