That she was an artist holding court in the spotlight wasn’t because Visions was a pop compromise. A bedroom GarageBand effort like its predecessors,Visions was full of melodic tracks and two-minute scraps like the tinny klaxon behind the glitchy shuffle of “Vowels = Space and Time” or the music-box clicks and whispers of the spacious, Bjork-esque “Skin.” But gradually Boucher’s sweet, aching melodies percolated through the whispering fog to lodge in your head. In true pop-song fashion, singles “Oblivion” and “Genesis” benefited from indelible videos, one featuring Boucher in poised control of platoons of beefcake, the other exploiting the post-apocalyptic fierceness of rapper (and daughter of Hustler’s CFO) Brooke Candy. The songs colonized dorm-room music libraries and YouTube favorites lists everywhere. So when she was standing on the Barclays carpet inventing questions for 2 Chainz, Boucher didn’t look out of place, but rather the coolest girl at the party.
In 2013, Boucher signed to the management arm of Roc Nation, the same team that manages Rihanna. Her 2014 single “Go,” rumored to be a RiRi castoff, was a lustful, all-in pop explosion, yet Boucher announced it wouldn’t be on her delayed fourth album (which was ultimately scrapped). In March 2015, a track from that abandoned album, “REALiTi”, sent fans into anticipatory ecstasy, wondering what to expect next. In October, they got an idea: the first single from Art Angels, the gloriously overtitled “Flesh Without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream” sets two swooning melodies – a bouncing, clattering dance-pop anthem backed with a delicate, unshrouded, unusually direct ballad – to an epic, seven-minute video. Trust us: Grimes really is a pop star.