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I’m massively into my music, particularly when it comes to artists that create truly unique, eclectic, and creative songs. One of my favorite examples of a truly innovative artist has to be Grimes, and if you haven’t listened to her before then you need to change that now!
Real name Claire Boucher, Grimes began making moves in the music scene with her debut release in 2010, ‘Geidi Primes’. She’s been changing the music game ever since, bringing experimental yet accessible styles of pop music to the mainstream.
With so much material created in her first 15 years as a musician, I think it’s time that I break down the best Grimes songs in my opinion.
Read on to find out which tracks I chose!
21 Best Grimes Songs of All Time
Let’s start things off with one of my favorite ever Grimes tracks – Oblivion, off her album Visions. Whilst this was actually the third release by Grimes, Oblivion was the first song that I ever heard by her.
Her previous two albums were very experimental in places, but this album was much more accessible, bringing her music to a wider audience. Despite this, Grimes’ use of analog synthesizers, reverb-drenched vocals, and ethereal songwriting meant that ‘selling out’ simply was not necessary.
This style is demonstrated beautifully on Oblivion – easily one of the best Grimes songs out there!
Before we move on to other albums, let’s take a look at another track from Visions, the first full track Genesis. This track is introduced with some truly angelic, reverb-soaked vocals on the video version of the song, but listen to the studio original and you will notice they’re not there.
It originally began with her gorgeous vocal harmonies, warm bass synths, and punchy drums, quickly building into one of the catchiest tracks of her career.
My favorite part of this track has got to be the vocal melodies – they’re absolutely gorgeous and just put me in the best mood!
3. Kill V. Maim
Moving on to 2015, Grimes followed Visions with her fourth studio album Art Angels, and this album took a serious step up in production value. This was due to the massive success of Visions in the underground music scene, and her record label clearly saw huge mainstream potential in her music.
I think it’s fair to say that she didn’t fail to disappoint – it’s just so much better than the rest of the mainstream pop music that was coming out at the time.
Fun fact – Claire herself claims that this is the best Grimes song on Art Angels!
I know I said we were moving on to the later stuff, but let’s take a step back to appreciate another fantastic track from Visions, ‘Circumambient’.
I chose this song because I think it highlights the unique imperfections found in Grimes’ music. You’ll notice in particular that her vocals and drums are in places not quite perfect – they don’t have the professional qualities heard on later tracks such as Kill V. Maim.
I think this is one of the most admirable qualities about her early work – she managed to make a name for herself despite keeping her production value lo-fi and raw, very cool!
5. Flesh Without Blood
Now that we’ve discussed the lo-fi nature of her earlier work, take a step forward and listen to Flesh Without Blood from the previously mentioned Art Angels and you’ll hear a massive difference.
The production value is far more polished, there’s a larger range of instruments used, and the tonality is more pitch-perfect. Despite this, Grimes somehow managed to maintain her unique vocal style and composition.
She somehow managed to find mainstream success without compromising her creativity. I love that!
All of the tracks that I’ve chosen so far have been pretty consistent in the catchy pop style of Grimes, but some of the best Grimes songs are a little different.
A prime example of this is the track Eight from Visions. There’s something about it that is dark, industrial, and experimental. I’m not sure if it’s the vocoded vocals, the glitchy drums, or the super high-pitched vocals, but it just really stands out from the sugar-coated synth pop that she is known for.
Regardless, I love it – it’s just more proof of how versatile of a musician Grimes really is!
7. Be a Body (侘寂)
This list is starting to become a full analysis of Visions – what can I say, it’s truly a beautiful album.
I chose this track as one of the best Grimes songs due to the truly euphoric chorus, only Grimes can pull something like this off. This is definitely one of her strongest points – she doesn’t just write catchy pop tracks, but somehow manages to make them sound chilling and atmospheric every time!
Her vocals play a massive part in this, but I think the IDM-influenced synths and drums accompany them beautifully to put emphasis on this euphoria.
8. Vowels = Space and Time
The DIY and lo-fi approach to the production of Visions truly makes the album stand out, but how was this achieved exactly? Tracks such as Vowels = Space and Time are composed so well, yet something about it is just so organic and almost amateur.
Well, you might be surprised to know that this album was completely created in the software Garageband! That is pretty insane – usually, the creation of an album this good requires tons of expensive software. Grimes really shows that it ain’t the tools, but the way that you use them!
9. Infinite Love Without Fulfilment
Whilst I’m taking a deep dive into the unique creative process behind Visions, here’s another interesting fact for you. The entire album was created in just three weeks – how crazy is that!?
Some of the best Grimes songs such as this album’s intro track Infinite Love Without Fulfilment give the impression that Claire must have spent months perfecting her sound, yet it was all over in under a month!
You should always remember this next time you think writing an album has to take a long time!
10. Visiting Statue
I mentioned earlier that the entirety of the album Visions was produced in Garageband, and this actually makes a lot of sense when you listen to tracks such as Visiting Statue.
The album is full of instruments that have a very ‘MIDI feel’ to it, showing signs of some of the standard instruments included in Garageband as opposed to expensive VSTs and plugins.
The unusual sounding, harp-like instrument at the beginning is a great example of this. It takes something pretty basic and fits it within a truly unique and perfect sound. Brilliant.
11. Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U)
We’re going to move away from Visions and explore some of the best Grimes songs from other albums soon, but I have a couple of final tracks to mention first including Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U).
This track is really different from the rest of the album – the bit-crushed drums and off-beat bass reminds me a lot of post-punk music and even krautrock pioneers Kraftwerk! However, as soon as those angelic and ethereal vocals come in, the song is instantly recognizable as not only a Grimes track but a Visions track.
It’s pretty beautiful overall, but things start to get spooky towards the last minute of the song!
We have just about covered the entirety of Visions – I initially intended to mix it up a bit more, but it’s just such a classic album that I felt like it deserved a proper analysis.
Skin is the final track I wanted to mention, and incidentally the final track on the album before the outro. It’s one of the softer tracks on the album and I feel like this makes it really functional at winding down the mood and putting the work to a close.
Truly a sign of a well-thought-out release – I will never forget this album!
OK – now that we’ve finished up with our deep dive into Visions, let’s take a further look at the fourth album Art Angels.
Despite the bigger budget on this album, the gorgeous idiosyncrasies of Grimes’ vocals and songwriting remain familiar. This is the most notable thing about this musician – despite her career progression, she has always stayed true to her aesthetic, her musical values, and her fans.
California could not demonstrate this better – moments such as the crescendo from 2 minutes 30 seconds onwards really make this track stand out as one of the best Grimes songs, it’s a massively impactful moment!
Continuing on our journey through the best Grimes songs, let’s wind forward to the present day when Claire released Miss Anthropocene in 2020.
A lot has changed since Art Angels – Grimes gave birth to her first child named X Æ A-Xii, which I always thought was appropriate considering the mystical creativity behind her music! The child’s father was entrepreneur legend Elon Musk, and I think he might have had some influence on the theme of this album and its song REALiTi.
Why do I say this? Well, let’s just say that Grimes claims that this song is written about an AI-lesbian! Elon must have had something to do with that one!
15. Laughing and Not Being Normal
One of the things that makes Art Angels stand out so much from its previous albums is the classical and almost operatic approach that Grimes took at times.
Laughing and Not Being Normal is a great example of this – it’s one of the best intro songs I’ve ever heard on an album and sets the bar very high for the composition style. Truly a unique track, which finishes up with a spooky electroacoustic outro.
Very nice work and undeniably one of the most unusual yet best Grimes songs. What’s more, the track name reminds me of my life – laughing and not being normal!
16. Delete Forever
Back in the present, Delete Forever is the third track from Grimes’ latest album Miss Anthropocene, and I think it’s fair to say that this is one of her most mainstream songs to date.
The track is introduced with a lovely acoustic guitar progression, gradually transforming into a chilled downtempo classic. It shows massive signs of creativity maturity, perhaps due to Claire having two years of motherhood influences under her belt.
There’s even a banjo at one point – truly a wholesome song from Grimes.
17. Venus Fly
We’re back to Art Angels again, taking a look at a truly special track Venus Fly. What’s so special about this one? Well, for one thing, it features Janelle Monae, an absolute superstar in the world of underground pop music!
It’s a 7-minute epic, featuring a stunning music video and a high-energy EDM style that just makes me want to tap my feet. The track has so much going on – it really has to be heard as I’m finding it difficult to describe this one.
My favorite moments are those cute ‘hey’s that Grimes chucks in – it always makes me want to smile!
Everyone knows what an album is, and the majority of music geeks will know that EPs are like mini albums, but have you ever heard of a ‘split’? These are unique musical formats that are essentially EPs shared by two artists, literally ‘splitting’ the release!
Believe it or not, Grimes released a split named Darkbloom with d’Eon, and one of Grimes’ tracks was named Vanessa. This is an interesting one as it actually sounds like it was released after Visions yet it was released all the way back in 2011!
Splits are pretty old-school, so respect to Grimes and d’Eon for continuing the tradition in the 2010s!
19. Belly of the Beat
Continuing on our post-Visions exploration of the best Grimes songs, I simply had to mention the song Belly of the Beat from Art Angels.
Earlier I mentioned how much I love Claire’s ability to induce euphoria, and this is yet another example of this. The track is full of energy, gorgeous acoustic guitar chords, clapping rhythms, and most importantly Grimes’ signature euphoric vocals.
Seriously, how could you listen to this track without having a massive smile on your face?
I’m sorry to say that we’ve almost finished this musical journey – I’m getting emotional.
I’ve always said that Visions is my favorite Grimes album, but the more I listen to Angel Art, the more I realize that I love all these albums equally! Pin is another classic track that reminds me of this, I just love how the high production value brings out Grimes’ style better than ever.
The four-on-the-floor kicks and acoustic guitar elements give this track so much more energy, something that wasn’t as prevalent on the DIY sound of earlier albums.
Last but not least, I simply had to choose the song that gave Art Angels its name.
This track appeared right in the middle of the album, and I think it may just be the best Grimes song in my opinion! The reason I think this is that it just brings all of my favorite elements of her music together – the ethereal vocals, the energetic euphoria, the high-product bleeps and bloops, and most importantly the fantastic songwriting!
If I had to pick a Grimes song that I felt was an ideal representation of her overall style, it would simply have to be Artangels. There’s something for everyone here.
Alexandra loves playing the piano and guitar. She has always been a music lover, but it wasn’t until she was in high school that she realized how much she loved to play. It allowed her to express herself without having to be verbally expressive, which is something she found very empowering.