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On ‘Art Angels,’ Grimes Dares You To Keep Up With Her Imagination

Music

it’s finally here

If you’re a big Grimes fan, you’ll discover a song in the middle of her new album, Art Angels, that you’ve known by heart since March, and it will either give you fits of delight or betrayal.

“Realiti” originally surfaced back in March as “REALiTi,” a stray survivor from a "lost album" that Grimes—whose real name is Claire Boucher—unexpectedly set free on YouTube. It broke the relative quiet that followed her 2012 breakthrough Visions, and further stoked a hunger among her fans that was only sort-of satisfied by the dubsteppy snack of 2014’s repurposed Rihanna reject, "Go."

"REALiTi" arrived like a little revelation. It didn’t come off like a reject or refugee. It felt free and unfussy, an unfinished masterpiece of soft-focus melancholy. A little rough around the edges and blurry in the corners, like most of what we’d already enjoyed from her. “[I]t was poorly recorded in the first place and never meant to be heard by anyone,” Boucher apologized in the info on YouTube, “so its a bit of a mess haha.” Perfect.

On Grimes’s fourth album, “Realiti” is decisively less of a mess. Those swirling, searching melodies are now fixed to a sturdy frame of thumping bass. The sound has been thoroughly boosted and buffed; her vocals are clearer and more confident. It sports fake strings and high gloss. For some, this is going to be a problem. (In a Reddit forum on the album, one Grimes fan griped, “The studio version strips out everything I enjoyed about the song.”)

Grimes’ firmly maintained DIY ethos (she writes, performs, and produces all of her music) has given rise to a patronizing tendency among her critics: It’s all too tempting to agree with the Reddit griper, to indict these shiny new signs of sophistication as evidence of a greater, more sinister change of plans—selling out, we used to call it, back when that was possible.

Crusty old hangups like these aren’t very helpful, especially when talking about Grimes. For one thing, advances in the realm of home recording have put so many possibilities within easy reach that staying lo-fi now comes off less like piety and more like a put-on. For another, it’s just a reductive way to approach Grimes, who gets reduced enough through the Newsom Effect—her high risks gets less focus than her high register, and descriptors like "elf", "pixie", and "sprite" implicitly shrink her sizeable talent.

To fault Grimes for the fearless steps she takes on every track of Art Angels—and yes, many of them are doozies—is to miss its enchanted forest for its sometimes gnarly trees. Her imagination is set loose here, and if you can’t follow every turn it takes (the clawing “Kill V. Maim,” for instance, is sung from the perspective of Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II—“except he’s a vampire who can switch gender and travel through space”), Art Angels at the very least tells the story of Grimes getting better and better at just about everything she does.

Those fans still desperately clinging to “REALiTi” will find plenty of comfort in the album’s handful of tracks that continue the Grimes tradition of effusive, swoonworthy pop destined for the dancefloor. Where were you this summer, “Butterfly”?

And she maintains her unique skill with a mixed message—pop structures have long served as Trojan unicorns for Grimes. In “Flesh Without Blood” (an essential for anyone who keeps a Saturdays = Youth playlist running), she sings lines like “I just don’t like you” and “I don’t see the light I saw in you before,” with notes of triumph. In “Venus Fly,” her collaboration with Janelle Monáe, the repetition of “Why you lookin at me?” is grafted onto a death-drop-ready ballroom stomp—a beat that usually asks “Why aren’t you lookin’ at me?” And both “Artangels” and “World Princess part II” give her voice an even more impossibly gleaming plasticine sheen—and somehow it makes her more human.

But the parts of Art Angels that point furthest forward are also the ones that push hardest back. The first three songs, for instance, could function as a hater filter, testing the faithful with a steep climb before allowing them into the lush valley of the rest of the album.

The lithe, wandering intro/invocation of “laughing and not being normal” is followed by the intense neon blast  of “California,” through which you have to squint pretty hard to make out its hypersaccharine sendup of mainstream pop tropes. And “Scream,” a collaboration with Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes, offers an intriguing idea of what Grimes might sound like when she hands off the mic (or burns her hand on the stove), but it feels like a test—one that the rest of Art Angels ensures is worth taking.

There’s an extraordinary range to the 14 songs on Art Angels (and she apparently has hundreds to choose from), but from the easy mid-tempo jam of “Easily” to the the beautifully frail “Life in the Vivid Dream” to the abrasive/addictive “Kill V. Main” (in which she growls “THEY DON'T! KNOW! ME!"), they all feel like views from the same vision—but it may be up to you to properly adjust your perspective.

If there’s any challenge to listening to Grimes as she grows, it’s only the daunting prospect of keeping up with her imagination. As she sings with wry joy in her parting words on “Butterfly”: “If you’re looking for a dream girl, I’ll never be your dream girl.”

Photos by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

This photo proves that they are the chillest onscreen family

Sophie Turner just posted a photo of herself, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead Wright—aka the Stark siblings—to her Instagram, showing just what the three used to get up to when the Game of Thrones cameras weren't rolling.

The photo shows Wright looking quite pleased with himself while sitting on a makeshift throne, wearing no pants. As he should be, seeing as (spoiler) his character, Bran, won the Iron Throne this weekend. Williams, meanwhile, is looking way too cool to be involved in the shenanigans, wearing a pair of black sunglasses and staring absently off-camera. As for Turner, she's looking away from her onscreen brother, too, nervously smoking a Juul.

"The pack survived," Turner captioned the photo.

This photo just goes to prove that the Stark siblings are the chillest onscreen family. (It also proves, yet again, that Turner's social media is an absolute delight.)

We're actually a little sad that this footage didn't make it into the final season, considering how many modern-day objects have been spotted in the show's last few episodes.

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Photo via @mileycyrus on Twitter

Meet Ashley

Miley Cyrus shared the trailer for her forthcoming Black Mirror episode, and it's basically Hannah Montana set in a dystopian future. Cyrus is a pink wig-wearing pop star named Ashley who is rolling out an in-home virtual assistant, named Ashley Too, that looks like her and shares her voice. But, as is the case with every Black Mirror episode, this technology is not as cute and fun as it's advertised to be.

In the trailer, we get the idea that Ashley is all about wanting fans to "believe" in themselves—but underneath that pink wig, maybe she doesn't feel that same self-love. After Ashley Too introduces herself to fan and new owner Rachel, promising to be her friend, we get a look at Ashley's darker side. She's depressed and tired of the pop star life. A record label executive says to several people in the room, "She doesn't understand how fragile all this is." As they consider upping her dose of medication, Ashley's life is on a downward slope. "It's getting so hard to keep doing this," she voices over glimpses of a police car chase, performances, and breakdowns backstage.

But back to the technology: Does Ashley's breakdown also mean the breakdown of Ashley Too? Looks like it. We see Rachel's virtual assistant screaming, "Get that cable out of my ass! Holy shit! Pull it out," breathing a sigh of relief as soon as they pull it out. A title card then reveals the episode name, "Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too."

Watch the full trailer and get a full view of Cyrus' cyborg-esque pop star look, below. Black Mirror returns to Netflix on June 5.


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Photo by Paras Griffin / Stringer / Getty Images.

Several actresses allegedly had "issues" with him

Lena Waithe's Showtime series, The Chi, just lost one of its main characters. Jason Mitchell, who was also set to appear in the Netflix film Desperados, has been dropped from both projects following multiple allegations of misconduct. He has also been dropped by his agent and manager.

Hollywood Reporter heard from a source "with knowledge" of The Chi, who says that Tiffany Boone, the actress who plays Mitchell's girlfriend on the show, is just one of several actresses who had "issues" with him. She eventually told producers at Fox21 that she could no longer work with him after filing several sexual harassment complaints. Apparently, her fiancé, Dear White People co-star Marque Richardson, would join her on set when she would shoot with Mitchell.

While news of Mitchell's alleged misconduct is just now beginning to surface, it looks like the ball started rolling on the fallout weeks ago. He was dropped from Desperados and replaced by Lamorne Morris before filming began. A source from the production team said that the producers received "specific information" that they reviewed and acted on quickly. Similarly, a source familiar with Mitchell's former agent, UTA, said the decision to drop him a few weeks ago was very quick following the allegations.

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Prior to the college admissions scandal, she said she doesn't "care about school"

Apparently, Olivia Jade wants to go back to school despite all those YouTube videos that suggested otherwise. Back in March, it was revealed that her mom, Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin, and dad, Mossimo Giannulli, had scammed Jade's way into the University of Southern California. Now, Loughlin faces jail time, and Jade lost out on plenty of lucrative ad partnerships.

According to Us Weekly, "Olivia Jade wants to go back to USC," per a source. "She didn't get officially kicked out and she is begging the school to let her back in." Another source though ousted Jade's real motivation to the publication. "She knows they won't let her in, so she's hoping this info gets out," they shared. "She wants to come out looking like she's changed, learned life lessons and is growing as a person, so she for sure wants people to think she is interested in her education."

Jade previously shared in a YouTube video she's in college for the "experience of like game days, partying" rather than the education. She also said, "I don't know how much of school I'm going to attend... I don't really care about school, as you guys all know." Though these statements were made prior to the scandal coming to light, her brand partnerships didn't come into question until her parents were indicted.

Right now, despite previous reports that Jade and her sister would both be dropping out of USC, Jade's enrollment has been placed on hold—meaning she cannot register for classes, or even withdraw from the school—until her parents' court case comes to a close. Then, the school will make its own decision as to how Jade will be affected. I think, either way, she should have to pay off a few of her classmates' loans for all the BS she pulled.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

He'd previously said he wanted to punch Jackson's 'Leaving Neverland' accusers in the face

Aaron Carter has been one of Michael Jackson's fiercest celebrity advocates in the aftermath of the Leaving Neverland documentary in which two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, alleged that Jackson sexually abused them when they were children. In a new clip from People, however, he seems to walk back his defense.

People reveals that Carter will be joining the upcoming season of reality TV show Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars Family Edition with his mother. It's noted that he will be revealing more thoughts regarding Jackson following the documentary and the sneak peek specifically sees him alluding to a negative experience with the singer.

Carter, who has previously said that Jackson was never inappropriate toward him, says that Jackson "was a really good guy," though he does note that this is only true "as far as I know." "He never did anything that was inappropriate," he continues before stopping himself, as though remembering something. "Except for one time. There was one thing that he did that was a little bit inappropriate."

Carter does not provide any more detail after this statement. He has previously said that he would stay at Jackson's Neverland estate and sleep in the same bed as the much older star when he was 15 years old, though he hasn't seemed to understand then just how creepy that is. He also said earlier this year, in a clip from TMZ, that he would be telling a story of something that happened between them in an upcoming book about his life.

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