The rise of artificial Intelligence (AI) has been decried by the likes of many — after all, there are few things more terrifying. Not exactly so: According to Grimes’ newest track, “We Appreciate Power,” this dystopia could actually be pretty cool. The Canadian pop princess declared the AI invasion to be good, therefore, it is gospel.
Grimes is the electro-pop outfit of former McGill student Claire Boucher. On “We Appreciate Power,” the singer-songwriter’s first single in over two years, Grimes and frequent collaborator, HANA, sing from the perspective of a pro-AI Girl Group Propaganda machine. Though bizarre in concept, the song is an effective and danceable robot-bop that, with its crisp and glittering production, refrains from sounding too campy. In 2018, artists like Janelle Monáe and Robyn ditch their cyborg personas for more something more human. Grimes’ new robotic identity feels strangely refreshing. There is something endearing about being told by someone with a voice as sweet as Grimes’ to submit to our A.I. overlords.
The track opens with a scream: A tasteful and subtle way to introduce listeners to Grimes’ latest work. She scatters shrieks and scratches throughout the song, creating a sense of total chaos, juxtaposed with her and HANA’s calm voices. The track ends with the word ‘submit’ repeated over and over as if to brainwash listeners into actually giving into A.I. supremacy. With lyrics about succumbing to computer rulers and an obvious influence from the Nine Inch Nails and K-Pop on the production, “We Appreciate Power,” is the dystopian banger we have all been craving.
Internet-savvy fans will, no doubt, try to draw connections between the song’s lyrics and Grimes’ multi-billionaire boyfriend Elon Musk, founder of Tesla. The song could very well function as propaganda for Musk’s takeover of the planet, which, in all honesty, wouldn’t be awful if the national anthem were as catchy as “We Appreciate Power.” When the couple made their debut at the 2018 Met Gala, Twitter was abound with jokes that their relationship was proof that the simulation we live in is glitching. Lyrics like “simulation, give me something good,” or “simulation: it’s the future” reference public suspicion. Perhaps, this year’s most surprising reveal about Grimes is not that she’s a fake socialist, but rather that she’s self-aware.
While 2018 has proven successful for Grimes artistically—she was featured on new albums by Janelle Monáe, Jimmy Urine, and Poppy, and composed the theme for the Netflix series Hilda—Grimes has also transitioned from Pitchfork-famous to tabloid fodder. Aside from her bizarre relationship with Musk, Grimes engaged in a feud with Azealia Banks, who accused her tech mogul boyfriend of tweeting on acid and holding her hostage. It’s no wonder that it took the artist nine months to release the track.
Despite a year of turmoil, Grimes’ production has never sounded as clean as it does on “We Appreciate Power.” The nu-metal guitars that pulse throughout build on the harder sounds previously explored on tracks like “Kill V. Maim” from 2015’s Art Angels. Shifting away from the soft sounds of her early work, Grimes is breaking out of the cloying bedroom-pop genre that made her famous. The glittery aspects of her work are still present on this track, and they can be found in the synthy coos of the bridge, paired with new, aggressive tones.
“We Appreciate Power” offers a more polished and confident Grimes. The song proves that, if anything, Grimes has come out of this nightmare of a year with a clearer sense of self and direction.