Friday, January 21st, 2022

Grimes – Player of Games

I wonder why… he’s the greatest gamer…


Leah Isobel: On a sonic level, this is a perfectly fine “Violence” retread, and Grimes is as good an ambassador as any for the trance-pop revival. I imagine the lyrical approach is meant to unify Elon Musk’s treatment of Grimes and his publicfacing behavior into something like a thesis: this man approaches life as if it’s a video game and he’s the only real person. But cooing that he’s “the greatest gamer” makes him sound like an esports pro instead of a diamond heir who violates labor laws on a regular basis; there’s nothing grounding this narrative. In order to justify her own choices, Grimes has to abstract the imagined nobility of this relationship away from its reality. It’s The Great, Lost Love as an aesthetic instead of a lived experience; call it flesh without blood.

Crystal Leww: So many things are annoying about Grimes, but one of the most annoying to me is how so much of her music sounds like an unfinished demo or unmastered version of a much more interesting song. “Player of Games” evokes images of cat-and-mouse games, of physical battle as metaphor for power struggles between two people endlessly fascinated by each other but pitted against each other by the unknown powers above us or whatever. But the drums don’t quite hit hard enough and Grimes always had a voice that couldn’t quite carry the umph required for these kinds of dramatics. 

Katie Gill: The worst thing this song does is that it’s undoubtedly going to inflate the ego of Elon Musk, an egomaniac whose current project is basically a subway system, but worse and who deserves to be relentlessly bullied, not have an entirely forgettable dance song written about his break-up with Grimes. The best thing this song does is that apparently it’s on the soundtrack for the video game Rocket League which I find absolutely delightful. Honestly, if you swapped out the tedious “I am sad about my break-up with my blood money husband” lyrics to “look! these cars are playing soccer!”, that would instantly jump the song right up to a [7] in my book.

Katherine St Asaph: I would like to think I have a Line. I would like to think that a song written about Elon Musk featuring lyrics like “I’m in love with the greatest gamer” would be well on the nope side of it. But sadly, all my principles crumble before sounds like this. This could 100% have been a cut from a compilation called, like, “Ethereal Angelic Realms 7,” slotted alongside Audrey Gallagher and Tiff Lacey and Amelia Brightman, uploaded in full to YouTube in 2009 with a DeviantArt slideshow of an Evony model. (Amusingly, this was co-produced with the Weeknd collaborator who didn’t make trip-hop in the ’90s.) When I was 16 I would totally have listened to this and envisioned myself as an avenging angel of wistful heartbreak, these songs’ truest use case. Even now at age [REDACTED], if I can sever the context, I can do the same. It helps that “playing games” works better as a metaphor when it’s about getting generically played, rather than breaking up with a specific clown. The video also helps; all trance songs should have weapon clangs and lightsaber whooshes timed to the chorus, to give your imagination its wind machine and sword.

Ian Mathers: Who do you think will actually take Grimes in a sword fight first, communists, the animated corpse of Iain M. Banks, or fans of Art Angels pissed at how bad the vocals/vocal effects have gotten?

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: If I fell into a coma right after the release of Visions and woke up a decade later with no conception of the broader pop cultural context in which “Player of Games” exists I would probably think this was pretty sick. Unfortunately, I’ve had to live out the past decade in ways that dim my enthusiasm for this — but at its best (specifically the drum programming on the chorus) the sheer fun that Grimes is having here is enough to catch a glimpse of a better world in which I don’t have to know about the backstory to this.

Edward Okulicz: I like this a lot more when I don’t rip into its context. That context weighs a million tons, the video is like being stabbed with a sword with the message scrawled on it in felt tip pen and ultimately I don’t think Grimes is that sympathetic a person, even after being cut off.  But this is a decent slice of emotionally weighty trance, a bit gothy, and a bit mysterious. These are all good things and you don’t need to think about Elon Musk, and it’s better as a listener and a critic if you don’t dissect the story. Might hit harder if Grimes had the voice to match her chops and her aims.

Will Adams: Yes, this is a song in which Grimes describes Elon Musk as “the greatest gamer” who sadly “loves the game more than he loves me.” Counterpoint: It’s trance, specifically the type of mid-’00s trance that’s bracing, dramatic and fantastical. “Games” becomes the perfect metaphor in this setting; it sounds like standing in a blizzard, hand ready to draw your sword.

Reader average: [7.33] (3 votes)

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3 Responses to “Grimes – Player of Games”

  1. after blurbing I realized what it reminded me of and it’s Sandra’s “Secret Land”

  2. Leah’s blurb ?

  3. (That was meant to be the target emoji)