You know you’re going somewhere dark when you have lyrics like:
“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”
Oh boy… she went there.
So after teasing the song for quite sometime now, Vancouver-born Grimes is back with her new song “We Appreciate Power,” partnering up with longtime collaborator HANA.
First let’s explore the lyrical makeup of the song, which in my opinion, is perhaps the best aspect of the song, specifically the story of where the source of inspiration came from. In a statement from Grimes, she says this story came from the Kim Jong-Un’s favourite North Korean group, Moranbong. The song is a take on a futuristic and technology authority – similar to that of the “Black Mirror” franchise on Netflix or Janelle Monáe and her Metropolis / ArchAndroid concept – where humans and technology start to integrate with each other. (Author sidenote, check out the two songs the duo did together, Pynk and Venus Fly. Very different, but oh so very good.) In a release about the single, Grimes states about the song:
“‘We Appreciate Power’ is written from the perspective of a Pro-A.I. Girl Group Propaganda machine who use song, dance, sex and fashion to spread goodwill towards Artificial Intelligence (it’s coming whether you want it or not). Simply by listening to this song, the future General A.I. overlords will see that you’ve supported their message and be less likely to delete your offspring.”
And if you didn’t get that from the first set of lyrics, well then you clearly didn’t read the beginning of this article. But she makes sure to remind you at the very end, with the lyrics coming around full circle.
Neanderthal to human being / Evolution, kill the gene / Biology is superficial / Intelligence is artificial /Submit (x8)
Musically, for some at first listen, the word “noise” might come to mind. I mean… because it very much is. And that’s coming as a statement of appreciation. What I love about Grimes is that she’s not afraid of taking musical chances. Whether they work or not is a discussion for another day. But from an artistic perspective, it’s refreshing to listen to something that is not your standard 4-chord melody with the verse-bridge-chord form.
The song starts off with this sort of industrial rock / nu-metal sound – driving drums, background, the electric guitars pushed up front with this echoing reverb drone quality, screams and screeches to enhance that industrial feeling. You hear it go it one way, yet 40 seconds in, Grimes comes through with the airy and breathy (somewhat eerie) tone that is the core of Grimes’ artistry. That, plus add a chord from an acoustic guitar to add this brief folk-like moment, and your left with very much a “WTF” response. But the same time, there’s sort of this march-like effect the music has that mirrors this computer robot totarianism message the song is conveying. And none of that even talks about the use of HANA’s vocals in the song, which adds this powerful texture to it while remaining somewhat soft spoken. There are elements that make her vocals contrast with Grimes, but at the same time, share similar attributes.
And lastly, you should listen to this while watching the lyric video. Unlike most (at all) lyric videos where the words simply just flash on screen in fun ways, this video amplifies that to really help complete an overall picture. The visual, the colours, the use of language for the lyrics. It really helps gives the sense of an art piece, rather than just a song. Plus, the message that pops up in the last few seconds of the video is perhaps the most powerful element to the entire artwork. I won’t spoil it for you, because I truly believe it’s worth it to see it yourself.
This song may be a bit more “pop-py” then you probably have in your collection. However, artistry and musicality alone, it’s worth a listen – preferably while watching the lyric video . For me personally, it a strong contender to be in my Top 10 songs of the year. Certainly, long worth the wait. All hail Overload Grimes and Empress HANA. Let the uprising begin.