The line between art and politics is a thin one – one that can easily be bent and twisted and often, if manipulated, can disappear entirely. Artists have a large impact, and they understand this – often weaving political themes into their work to convey a larger message. This is apparent throughout history, with historical examples including people like Théodore Géricault, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Frida Khalo, and Shakespeare. In more recent years, musicians have taken it upon themselves to educate their largely underage audience on topical issues – specific examples being Green Day’s “American Idiot,” Chloe X Halle’s “The Kids Are Alright,” Tyler the Creator’s “Flower Boy,” Hozier’s “Wasteland, Baby!” and SZA’s “Ctrl.” By appealing to the younger generation’s affinity for diverse music and unconventional lyricism, musicians are easily able to entwine larger topical conversations into what seem to be means of simple entertainment. This is certainly the case with musician Grimes’s “Miss Anthropocene,” a musical commentary on the conversation of climate change.
Grimes as her stage name, C, formerly known as Claire Elise Boucher, released “Miss Anthropocene” on February 21, 2020. As the partner to the infamous Elon Musk, a massive name in the discussion of green energy, she has become quite the controversial figure by association, further propelled by this album’s release. In her album “Miss Anthropocene,” Grimes explores the conversation and vocabulary surrounding climate change. She cites it as a soundtrack for the end of the world – a love letter to an anthropomorphized goddess of climate change. The name itself, “Miss Anthropocene,” is a play on the words “misanthrope” and “anthropocene,” creating the idea of hatred towards humanity and what they have done to the Earth personified as a living being. C says that people’s fear to talk about climate change is what is causing the destruction of our world as we know it. By changing the topic of climate change from what seems to be a controversial, political discussion into a cyberpunk album meant to be enjoyed by the youth, Grimes is marrying the worlds of music and youth-focused activism. Whether or not you enjoy the album is completely up to personal preference, but, with a featuring as number 4 on Billboard’s Top 100 for 4 consecutive weeks and a peak at the top of the Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Chart, it cannot be denied the massive impact this has had and will continue to have on the teenaged leaders of the future. This type of album will no doubt become more common in the future – the genreless union of politics and activism was already quite popular, but in recent years it has risen more to prominence, not only in alternative subcultures. According to a survey, 53% of registered voters said that global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress, and 66 percent said that developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority (www.nytimes.com). With climate change becoming an increasingly nuanced and dangerous subject, integrating its importance into art and music might just be the savior of conversation the world needs.