You can’t say the way we engage with music hasn’t changed, for better or for worse, over the last four years. So to mark this “seismic shift,” Pitchfork has started naming its top songs of the decade early. Katy Perry ranked well. RIP \m/rock\m/, etc. etc.
So who’s holding the #1 spot for best track of the past four years on this subjective list compiled by a bunch of people who frequently rank music based on the number of penises involved and its aural proximity to Radiohead? A 26-year-old Urban Faery, born Claire Boucher, who wrote a weird, unflinchingly female song about being sexually assaulted.
Grimes‘ “Oblivion” sounds sugar-sweet if you’re listening inattentively while checking work emails, but the lyrics aren’t vague. “And never walk about after dark/ It’s my point of view/ Because someone could break your neck/ Coming up behind you always coming and you’d never have a clue,” she sings in her whispery, bouncy voice. The catchiest part of the song is where she repeats “See you on a dark night.” Grimes might have many alter egos, but she’s also a diminutive human female.
In the video, directed by Emily Kai Bock on a “shoestring budget,” pink-haired Grimes is the only female hanging around in the stands at a football game while jocky shirtless males and other incarnations of amped-up masculinity move about her. “Art gives me an outlet where I can be aggressive in a world where I usually can’t be, and part of it was asserting this abstract female power in these male-dominated arenas—the video is somewhat about objectifying men,” she said of shooting the video.
Over the weekend, however, the vibe at Grimes’ place was a little less celebratory. On Saturday she took to her excellent Tumblr to vent about online trolls who keep editing her Wikipedia page to include quotes about amphetamine use while she was writing “Oblivion” and the other 12 tracks on her third studio album Visions. The quote — “I blacked out the windows and did tons of amphetamines and stayed up for three weeks and didn’t eat anything” — is real, but she doesn’t want it to be “part of her narrative” or make it look like she’s pro-drugs. She wrote:
losing people to drugs and alcohol is the worst because they destroy any good memories you have of them before forcing you to deal with the empty space they leave behind. also whoever keeps putting the few quotes i said early in my career about drugs back into my wikipedia page is an asshole. I don’t want that to be part of my narrative, and if it has to be I want people to know that i hate hard drugs.
All they’ve ever done is kill my friends and cause me to be unproductive. Editing a website that people take seriously and reference all the time so that it looks like i think amphetamines are cool is incredibly irresponsible, people might read that and think its a cool thing to emulate. I hope you know you are doing the world a disservice. I just watched another person I care deeply about basically turn into gollum and my heart is broken.
Typically, male artists are given a much freer reign to experiment with drugs than female artists, who are either vilified or painted as victims. This makes the mainstream success of “Oblivion” even more impressive. But still, hard drugs are bad. Don’t do ’em.
Here are Pitchfork’s choice of top 20 tracks of the decade so far:
20. Daft Punk – ‘Get Lucky’ [ft. Pharrell]
19. Beach House – ‘Zebra’
18. Kanye West – ‘Monster’ [ft. Justin Vernon, Rick Ross, Jay-Z, and Nicki Minaj]
17. LCD Soundsystem – ‘Dance Yrself Clean’
16. Todd Terje – ‘Inspector Norse’
15. Nicki Minaj – Super Bass’ [ft. Ester Dean]
14. Sky Ferreira – ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’
13. Usher – ‘Climax’
12. Beyoncé – ‘Countdown’
11. Tame Impala – ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’
10. Drake – ‘Hold On We’re Going Home’
9. Deerhunter – ‘Helicopter’
8. Frank Ocean – ‘Pyramids’
7. Azealia Banks – ‘212’ [ft. Lazy Jay]
6. Robyn – ‘Dancing on My Own’
5. Kendrick Lamar – ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’
4. M83 – ‘Midnight City’
3. Kanye West – ‘Runaway’ [ft. Pusha T]
2. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – ‘Round and Round’
1. Grimes – ‘Oblivion’
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