Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Poppy ft. Grimes – Play Destroy

Some of us just went straight to the second part of the title.


Jessica Doyle: How is it that “Hey, hey, wanna play/Well, baby, I can go and go” has more menace and meaning than this entire song? I mean, I’m sure the answer involves one or more or all of the following things: Elon Musk; pot; YouTube algorithms; algorithms in general; California; late capitalism; any capitalism; Donald Trump; amour-propre; Hollywood; 6% Doki Doki; the patriarchy; that we each of us are hurtling unstoppably towards death; my period starting this morning; the New Yorker; the rise of behavioral psychology and the gamification of attention online; and you — yes, you, Person on the Internet, who is unlikely to be as terrible as you think you are and even less likely to be as terrible as I think I am. We’ve already exhausted ourselves; there’s not much point in going further down. Let’s call it a day, grab some tea and go enjoy some real Junko Mizuno instead of alternating between despair and contempt at knockoffs, shall we?

Alfred Soto: The tension between Grimes’s breathy anomic timbre and the aggression of her guitar and keyboard parts has made her a fascinating musician for years, and she exploits that tension for the sake of giving the title conceit some teeth. But this collaboration between her and a YouTuber suggests an okay opening track, not the basis for a relationship.

Crystal Leww: Suicide Squad‘s soundtrack was unfortunately led by that ghastly song “Sucker for Pain” when it really should have just licensed “Kill v Maim.” “Play Destroy” is no “Kill v Maim” — there are moments that are too soft to remain aesthetically consistent — but it sounds like it could and should be the first song off the upcoming Harley Quinn soundtrack. I mean that as a compliment. 

Taylor Alatorre: “I took an early 2000s message board argument about Rage Against the Machine releasing anti-capitalist music through corporate intermediaries and turned it into a Babymetal song!” “…why?”

Edward Okulicz: I wouldn’t listen to either of this song’s two halves individually, and I’m not buying that combining them is some kind of subversive statement, or that the amalgam is disorientating or surprising or even sounds good in any way. Has the huge stench of “DO YOU SEE WHAT I AM DOING ISN’T IT CLEVER?” but really, it’s not. Poppy’s songwriting is as shallow as her commentary as ever, but this is a particularly thin bit of gruel, despite the musculature that Grimes’s guitar gives it. Stupid it is, revolutionary it is not: Babymetal is a thing, pop music with heavy guitars is a thing, the blurring of genre boundaries over the last 20 years is a thing, this wonderful video of Aqua performing “Lollipop” in 2018 is a thing, a mixtape someone gave me which had both Britney Spears and Mayhem on it, that was definitely a thing. This is nothing.

Vikram Joseph: It has, mostly by association, been a strange old year for Grimes, so it’s understandable that she might want to blow away a few cobwebs; the first ten seconds of “Play Destroy” is scintillating, hinting at a tearaway hell-pop masterpiece along the lines of “Kill vs. Maim”. But it loses its edge in the translation from synth to rawwwwk guitar; it’s a dead ringer for a late-90s Korn riff, which is perhaps surprising but not necessarily… good. Grimes has juxtaposed aggression with bubblegum-pop to great effect before, and it’s still striking, but the chorus is a watery, lukewarm facsimile of the vivid, buzzsaw hooks that ripped holes in every song on Artangels. And honestly, “gonna cut your face and break your favourite toy” sounds pretty cuddly next to “you gave up being good when you declared a state of WAAAAAAAAR!”. In the end, “Play Destroy” is a total mess, albeit an entertaining one to watch unfold (rather like a certain social media feud).

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Poppy’s shtick is so lame y’all. There’s absolutely nothing clever or interesting or unique about it and her decision to try out a Babymetal-type song is a reminder that she is certainly all those things. There’s a sense that she thinks this jarring marriage of pop and metal is provocative — which it is, sure — but the issue is that this dissonance becomes the beginning and end of the song’s conceit; at least Babymetal is fun, filled with joy and lacking all pretense.

Will Adams: A silver lining to “Play Destroy” is that finally Poppy’s image and music are aligned — the commentary on internet and pop culture have become integral to the music. The problem is still that everything she has to say is so surface level and incurious. That’s why her idea of questioning gender results in a concept as clunky and heavy-handed as Am I Girl?, and why her idea of genre subversion is the most obvious juxtaposition of driving metal and flower child choruses. That’s why “Play Destroy” is barely a song at all, more a toggling between two separate parts with only their differences meant to hold everything together.

Katherine St Asaph: I can’t think of a better example of how this general swath of music infantilizes and one-dimensionalizes women than this: Powerpuff Girl-parody lyrics aside, Grimes and Poppy are near-identical, aural palette swaps. (It’s particularly noticeable after the past week of Grimes Discourse.) But I’m not going to lie and say this doesn’t sound great, despite the nagging sense it’s coercing me to buy into multiple things I’m not purchasing.

Reader average: [4] (6 votes)

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5 Responses to “Poppy ft. Grimes – Play Destroy”

  1. did not expect to be the top score on a poppy song

  2. Did not expect to be the 2nd highest score on a ft. Grimes song

  3. Surprised no one mentioned the whole Titanic Sinclair/Poppy/Mars Argo thing, considering how… relevant it is to the discourse.

    Song sucks btw. Only somewhat enjoyable thing abt it is the humming in the beginning, that was a nice touch I guess.

  4. 5-7 range otm

  5. fwiw I only found out about the mars argo thing one hour ago

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