Earlier this year, soulful goth songstress Zola Jesus confessed to New Times that she has a secret dream of transcending modest indie success and becoming a full-fledged Mariah Carey-type pop star. There's a significant number of art-warped pop singers whose R&B hooks and highly cultivated visual aesthetics betray a similar desire for Gaga-level popularity, quietly and steadily subverting pop norms, but perhaps the most conflicted and fastest-rising of these singers is Grimes, the 4AD-signed project of Canadian-born Claire Boucher. Her synth-driven songs contain the sugary vocal swirl of K-pop and the kind of house beats that get bodies sweaty, yet somehow everything is submerged in ambient dynamics and contemporary hypnogogia. Her fashion choices are like a Tumblr scroll on MDMA: army jackets with hot pants, ambitious bangs, rings shaped like labia. Her newest video for the solemnly sweet "Genesis" is a confounding mix of knowingly cliched pop iconography, sunny Southern California locales, and couture Lord of the Rings cosplay. A serpent-draped Grimes rolls with a bunch of Echo Park elves in a Cadillac SUV while a shimmering post-rave necromancer in platform Nikes dougies in the desert. Oh, and flaming swords. She probably poses no threat to Katy Perry's pop supremacy, but Grimes is the best at bringing mainstream pop glamor down to art star scale.
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