Arts & Culture

Grimes releases technology-themed single ‘We Appreciate Power’

Song inspired by North Korean all-girl band marks Grimes’ first release since 2015 album

Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Grimes, the Canadian singer, songwriter and producer, explores the influence of artificial intelligence and group propaganda in her latest single, “We Appreciate Power.”

Singer, songwriter and producer Grimes dreams of a new metal world of robot overlords.

Claire Boucher, known as Grimes, released her highly anticipated single “We Appreciate Power” Nov. 29. Featuring frequent collaborator HANA, this track is the first new work since Grimes’ 2015 critically acclaimed album “Art Angels.” The artist is expected to drop a new album by the end of this year, according to Paste Magazine.

In her new single, Grimes repeats “we appreciate power” 31 times. What power is she talking about, exactly? In her new song, Grimes prefigures power, or domination, as a tool to glimpse into our future. Power serves as the knowledge and greeting to a simultaneous nightmare and dream of a landscape ruled by artificial intelligence. Representing a propaganda-esque anthem of some not-so-distant metallic future, “We Appreciate Power” repeats its titular phrase incessantly, urging listeners to submit to this kind of mechanized authority. She calls for her audience to elevate their status to the artificial in siren-like tones with lines such as: “And if you long to never die / Baby, plug in, upload your mind / Come on, you’re not even alive / If you’re not backed up on a drive.”

According to a statement released by Grimes, “We Appreciate Power” draws its primary influence from North Korea’s all-girl band Moranbong. “‘We Appreciate Power’ is written from the perspective of a Pro-Artificial Intelligence Girl Group Propaganda machine who use song, dance, sex and fashion to spread goodwill towards Artificial Intelligence,” the press release stated, adding that the mechanization of everyday life is coming even if it is not desired. “Simply by listening to this song, the future General A.I. overlords will see that you’ve supported their message and be likely to delete your offspring,” the press release stated.

There is something to be said about a song inspired by actual propaganda from an actual dictatorship. But “We Appreciate Power” adds to that sentiment with layers of irony. It is self-conscious, self-aware of its status as a single meant to make listeners aware of a not-so-distant, technologically dominated future, with phrases such as “upload your mind” recalling our social media-controlled lives.

Grimes’ release adds to her established innovative aural prowess. She has a knack for nu-anything; Grimes re-engineers a flurry of noise, screams and distortion to mold an almost religious nu-metal-esque soundscape — one that is simultaneously 1990s Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails dark industrial shock and 1090s Hildegard of Bingen beautiful medieval holiness. Grimes builds a cathedral of guitar loops and synthesizers, but at this cathedral, we are robots that “pledge allegiance to the world’s most powerful computer.”

As an artist, Grimes is a renaissance woman. The Canadian artist writes her own songs, produces her own albums and creates her own album art. She kicked off her artistic career in 2010 with the release of “Geidi Primes,” a concept album based on Frank Herbert’s novel “Dune,” before releasing “Halfaxa,” her self-described “medieval” album later that year. “Visions,” however, is what propelled Grimes into indie-electronic-synth-pop stardom in 2012. “Visions” was named album of the year by publications such as AllMusic, and its single “Oblivion” was awarded best song of 2012 by renowned music magazine Pitchfork. “Art Angels,” released in 2015, featured a much more pop-timistic sound compared to her previous albums — symbolizing a reinvention of the genre that showcased the purely fun, imaginative power of an experimental pop vision. In all, to say that Grimes’ next album is greatly anticipated is an understatement.

Grimes knows exactly what she’s doing as a musician. Some critical listeners, even professional reviewers, can be quick to say that “We Appreciate Power” is a science-y song influenced by Elon Musk, her boyfriend. Yes, she is dating the anti-union, billionaire aerospace tycoon; but like any other musician, her relationship status shouldn’t define her artistry. Her first studio album from 2010 is a science fiction concept album, and her “Flesh without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream” music video features “Looper”-inspired time travel concepts. It’s unfair to say that “We Appreciate Power” is a Musk anthem. Listeners should take Grimes’ new single for what it is ­­— a spellbinding, pseudo-propaganda robot anthem.

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