Monday, July 14th, 2014

Grimes ft. Blood Diamonds – Go

We might disagree about Grimes, but surely Crystal’s conclusion can bring us all together…


Katherine St Asaph: Grimes is writing for Rihanna, which is somehow a surprise to anyone — like, what the fuck did you expect to happen when Grimes signed with Roc Nation? Beyoncé is recording Caroline Polachek demos and Rih just cut a Kiesza track. There’s always been a market for indie songwriters to purvey their outré, anyway, and given that big-name indies aren’t often big-money indies, and that you can attain the level of celebrity to make getting a day job untenable without earning the amount of money to make getting a day job unnecessary — and given that in this economy, no one’s getting any jobs — why wouldn’t you get that Jay-Z cash if it’s offered? Writers, most of whom do moonlighting they don’t talk about, should know better; bro Grimes fans might understand once they graduate. The problem is knowing this existed, and was rejected, puts me in less of a receptive role than the role of a QA or an A&R — a human who is an acronym, who doesn’t pour feeling into songs but takes notes. 0:21 is too jarring. Verse two is spare in a way that doesn’t say “haunting” but “finish the demo.” (Unfinished demos can be better, i.e. “Everything Is Embarrassing.” This is not.) If this is really for Rihanna and not Ellie Goulding it should be at least an octave down. The drop needs something — anything — prominent in its second half; slightly different synth skronking doesn’t cut it, nor does mixing percussion low or shrieking like a pigeon flew into the studio wall. (A mashup solved this by splicing in “Pour It Up,” which is cool but should’ve sounded crowded, right?) The lyrics are piffle. “Diamonds” had the same problem, but at least those words were by Sia, one of earth’s rare people who probably really does find light in the beautiful sea. I’m not sure “Go” means much to anyone.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: And on the other side of restraint, there’s “Go!” Hoo boy. Claire Boucher’s music already sounded like a million tabs opening up at once, the clutter and kerfuffle all part of the process. She made music you learnt to understand, music you submerged into. Just when you’ve stretched out into the digital bath she’d drawn, Boucher throws a live toaster in there. You’re either gonna be lobster food or you’re gonna learn today, motherfucker. The shortcomings of “Go!” are also what makes it alluring. Boucher is in a zone where she can rub shoulders with Roc Nation management and offer her services to Rihanna, but stubbornly lacks the streamlined simplicity to be the new Sia. This is more or less the first time I’ve made out actual words she’s singing, and still the meaning is murky, an arcane series of commands to dance and falsetto’d signals to start sobbing. There’s an intergalactic war for a chorus, Yo-Yo Ma cello outros, ratchet handclaps, Teddy Riley glass shatters. I have no idea what to do with this, but I believe Boucher wants us to double-down to understand what she’s getting at. It’s brilliant if you think about it — a sell-out sidestep that doesn’t only maintain her mystique, but strengthens it too? Hoo boy.

Britt Alderfer: “Go” is far less weird and luminous than what Grimes was doing one album ago, and I’m bummed out about it. I know she’s with Roc Nation now and she ostensibly wrote the track for Rihanna, and I can get why — though the grains of their voices and their kinks are very different, they both truck in a kind of distorted, postmodern longing (Rihanna: “love in a hopeless place,” pay homage to the goddess on Instagram; Grimes: “infinite ♡ without fulfillment”, costume up boys or show yr wires) via big-sounding pop — but this is so bloodless I’m in awe. I cannot otherwise accuse Grimes of an absence of personality so it’s tempting to blame all my ambivalence on the production, now that she’s not producing herself, but “Go” isn’t the first Grimes/Blood Diamonds track that we’ve heard. “Phone Sex” from 2012 is great and 10 times more interesting. So what I choose to believe is growing pains.

David Sheffieck: Not that Rihanna needs it, but: would anyone be surprised if the release of this dully, derivatively dubsteppy track was at least in part because she wanted to confirm her good taste in turning it down?

Juana Giaimo: Remember when two years ago everyone was trying to find the perfect way of describing Grimes? Well, all of those words are now rather useless. She isn’t quirky and ethereal anymore. Instead, “Go” is a plain and rather shallow club banger that isn’t even danceable. Knowing that it was written for Rihanna is a relief, but I’m not sure if this song had to see the light as interpreted by Grimes. 

Patrick St. Michel: Thing is, even if this was meant for Rihanna, Grimes manages to be more than capable of stepping in and filling out the verses. Those are the highlight here, swoony and dramatic in a way that sounds like it wouldn’t fit in particularly well with what I imagine North American pop radio sounds right now. The dubstep drop… it’s OK — more welcome than the Zedd-ification of other corners of the pop world — but still pretty much what you’d expect. 

Hazel Robinson: I was mostly underwhelmed by this — I mean, it’s nice and all, bit of a chambery feel from the harpsichord and a shimmering gorgeousness to it. It’s got that toughness and tightness to it that Grimes songs have, along with much more robust vocals than her previous tremulousness — all very nice and playing to my aesthetics. Then two minutes in the WHOLE THING FUCKING EXPLODES into a lizardy wobble. And it builds and it builds and it builds and you don’t even notice when it crests except that the comedown is so incredibly blissful.

Brad Shoup: The song’s 80 per cent about the drop, which sounds like a guy with his tongue hanging out, doing his best impression of a drop. The rest is the Wind-Up Bird-style synth violin, and Grimes sings behind it like she’s trying to catch up to a lost opportunity.

Alfred Soto: The voice-free interlude around the 2:50 mark distinguished by a violin, piano, click track, and other doohickeys renders Grimes superfluous. Free of mystic-poetic bulllshit, Kiesza could have helmed this.

Anthony Easton: I know that I cannot go with Grimes, and am rarely tempted — except maybe for the ooohs, and that weird stuttering electroclash beat that takes over the second half of the song, but less fun. I am kind of exhausted at how serious and self-conscious Grimes is, and this kind of proves it. 

Will Adams: Grimes has been one of the most prominent champions of the idea that the pop and indie worlds are not that far apart, and finally we have the sonic evidence to back that up. “Go” bumps and skitters like you’d expect any trap-pop number to do, but there are also more unexpected choices, like the soft piano chords in the second verse or the viola-laden outro. But Boucher’s voice is the most unifying factor between the two worlds; the falsetto “with you” unleashed over the drop is beautiful and stark, and it’s exactly the intersection to which I wish more pop stars would dare to venture.

Thomas Inskeep: Well, I certainly never expected to hear something from Grimes that sounds like it could be a massive top 40 hit in the US. (Anywhere else, sure.) It’s a notch above your basic Dr. Luke EDM/pop hit, and has some appealingly weird touches in its mix. The lyrics, and the vocals, are unexceptional but entirely not the point; the key here is the sound of this track, and it sounds pretty good.

Crystal Leww: Don’t get me wrong: Diplo is a hateful little shit, reverse sexism doesn’t exist, and he absolutely shouldn’t have said “if skrillex or I put out that grimes song [Pitchfork] would have fuckin trashed it #reversexism ?” (immortalized in a manual RT because it’s 2014 and music bloggers are vicious). But let’s pretend for a moment that he has a point and that we exist in a world where people don’t treat “female rappers” like a separate genre of music and DJs who happen to be female get their respect: “Go” does indeed sound remarkably similar to Diplo’s “Revolution,” except maybe with worse vocals and nonsense lyrics. Still, that world I described doesn’t exist, and Diplo’s own Instagram is proof that women are used for their bodies and their talents are marginalized in EDM. Grimes made what is basically a standard EDM track that could be played to a field full of a bros at Lollapalooza next month and got the cool music crowd to lose their shit over it. This is the same cool music crowd that has spent the last two years sneering at a really significant part of the musical landscape and blithely dismissing it and the people involved in it as dumb. Who cares, though; this stuff is outrageously fun and gets people moving. “Go,” tuned up a little bit with Rihanna on the vocals and someone else penning the lyrics, could have been a powerful follow-up to “We Found Love” and could have gotten Men Who Know Better to care about a style they’ve previously dismissed. That’s powerful, and that context matters. I don’t care if it’s just because she’s a woman; female EDM producers deserve their due, too. So fuck off, Diplo, now and forever.

Reader average: [5.92] (14 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

6 Responses to “Grimes ft. Blood Diamonds – Go”

  1. Crystal, you’d think after your review that you would give it a higher score?

    And real talk, I’ll take that harpsichord all day.

  2. ineffective drop, overly somber verses, extremely thin vox. this track is trash

  3. 6 is a good score!

  4. Also, I kind of like this song in theory more than in execution so

  5. You’re a great reviewer Crystal.

    I think the drop needed a bit more power. The rest is nice, it’s so good to hear Claire sing properly and not be buried in the mix.

  6. Yeah, I somehow agree with all these points but can’t stop finding this song fascinating. There’s a lot going on.