By: Patricia Kusumaningtyas
Recently, electronic musician Grimes—otherwise known as Claire Boucher—released a surprise single. She has gotten a significant amount of attention since she last made an album through dating tech CEO Elon Musk—a way longtime Grimes fans wouldn’t expect. However, it is important to see past the headlines of “Elon Musk’s Girlfriend” and view her oeuvre as a musician. Boucher has released four albums under the name Grimes; her most recent release, Art Angels, has gained numerous praises from music critics, highlighting Grimes’s talent as a producer, a singer, and a curator. Her newest single, “We Appreciate Power,” diverges from the lively sounds of Art Angels, but remains distinctively idiosyncratic, nevertheless.
In “We Appreciate Power,” Grimes do not wait for their listeners to be ready. In her first non-feature single since her 2015 album, Grimes brought the help of HANA—fellow musician and her longtime collaborator—to bring the vision of an AI-conquered dystopia to life. The song starts with a bang with Grimes screaming on top of a nü-metal guitar riff. The electric guitars take center stage in the instrumentation for this song, a great diversion from Grimes’s electronic-heavy Art Angels.
The instrumentations come to halt when Grimes comes into the first verse of the song, delivering the lyrics in a deadpan, robotic nature, which establishes the song’s dystopian atmosphere. Grimes herself has frequented the topic of dystopia in her body of work in so many ways, but in “We Appreciate Power,” she takes a first-person stance of the dystopia, creating a song that could be taken out of propaganda for an AI-led government—she incorporates minor tones and eerie lyrics to paint a bleak image of our possible future. By using lyrics like “pledge allegiance to the world’s most powerful computer,” Grimes and HANA play the role of the human henchmen of AI overlords, which is amplified by sprinkling authoritarian phrases such as “capitulate” or “when will the state agree to cooperate.”
The most exciting part of the song comes near the end, where Grimes sings “Neanderthal to human being / Evolution, kill the gene / Biology is superficial / Intelligence is artificial,” followed by softly repeating the word “submit,” as if asking the audience to bow to the song’s AI overlords. The repetition takes the song to a trance-like state, convincing its listeners that a future like this is not at all implausible. “We Appreciate Power” marks Grimes not only as a master musician but a master storyteller as well.