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The Evolution of Grimes, From Tumblr Icon to Supervillain

Gettyimages | Vivien Killilea
By Jalyn Reed

It's easy to forget that Grimes, born Claire Elise Boucher, started out as an avant-garde pop-singing Tumblr pioneer from Vancouver. In 2015, she was featured in a New Yorker profile called "Pop for Misfits". The article says that she was struggling with the “disquieting possibility that her online presence might be even more popular, and more influential, than her music.” Already a distressed visionary from the start, it seems as though people knew what she was capable of, but underestimated just how much the young pop singer would transform as an artist.

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Gettyimages | Scott Dudelson

In 2010, Grimes released her debut album, Geidi Primes, laying the groundwork for her conceptual, imaginative, sci-fi, and genre-bending artistic outlet. Her follow-up album, Halfaxa, released the same year and polished up her identity as to who she was as an artist. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Grimes explained Halfaxa: “I feel like art in the middle ages was always addressing something beyond earthly experience, and I want to do the same,” she said. “But I wanted it to be vague as to what it is beyond earthly experience that is being addressed.”


In 2012 Grimes released her breakthrough album, Visions. It solidified her as an art-pop producer who, despite her experimental sounds and conceptual sonic textures, was to be taken very seriously. The song "Oblivion" was named the second-best song of the 2010s by Pitchfork. By late 2015, Grimes was signed to Roc Nation management, and her best album yet, Art Angels, was released. Despite the commercial success, she was maintaining full artistic freedom with her music by producing her own songs and directing almost all of the music videos herself.

Grimes and Elon Musk
Gettyimages | Taylor Hill

The publicity around Grimes really started to pick up after the 2018 Met Gala, where she debuted with Elon Musk. The anticipation of her upcoming album, Miss Anthropocene, has also given her more public approach. With the publicity, everyone could see just how much Grimes was transforming and growing as an artist. In a podcast in November, Grimes told theoretical physicist Sean Carroll: “I feel like we’re in the end of art, human art,” as they contemplated the threats AI poses on humanity.

Grimes Performance
Gettyimages | JC Olivera

With Grimes and her enormous persona now very public and very popular, the anticipation for her upcoming album, Miss Anthropocene, has been met with greater anticipation than any of her previous work. Grimes has described the album as “an evil album about how great climate change is.” She also said: “Everyone loves the villain. Everyone fucking loves Thanos. Let’s make some Thanos art.” Is this the direction everyone was expecting the techno-goth-sci-fi-pop artist to go in? Maybe. Maybe not. One thing is for sure about the pop supervillain, she is not happy with her new celeb status. In an interview with Crack Magazine, Grimes had this to say about where she is at now: “I worked my whole fucking life for this and now everyone thinks I’m so stupid. I was just sitting there incredulous watching my life’s work go down the drain.”

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