Close reading the trippy beauty of Grimes’ new “California” music video

Prepare your eyes for something incredible: Grimes just released a music video for her song “California,” off her album “Art Angels.” The song is upbeat and dreamy, and the video is the perfect complement. It’s whimsical, yet tows the line between vibrant and dark. In short, it’s perfect.

The new vid, directed by Grimes and her brother, is ambitious. It features a few different vignettes, each busy and complicated and packed with meaning. Here are some of our favorite moments.

The theme is that there are many themes.


Right off the bat we have strong patriotic hints, a lurking (yet fancy) mime, and a country cactus with some tumbleweeds. It warns you from the start: This is going to be a busy three and a half minutes.

The porcelain faces.


Grimes starts things off in a sculpture studio, and returns to it throughout the video. The world is a blank canvas and Grimes is an artist. Porcelain seems to be a metaphor for the oversaturation of the music industry, as are all of the lifeless faces filling the shelves. “The things they see in me, I cannot see myself / When you get bored of me, I’ll be back on the shelf,” she sings. There are so many porcelain busts, and we’re pretty sure the camera pans by Ludwig van Beethoven at one point.

The ribbon dancer.


Yes, beloved ’90s toy, you have made a comeback! Okay, so the “California” video probably doesn’t actually feature an actual Ribbon Dancer toy. But it still makes us nostalgic.

The “perfect” singing act.


That over-the-top stage setting is back, and it’s clear that this is Grimes’ interpretation of what artists think they’re supposed to do. Red curtain, big bright lights, extreme patriotism, blonde hair — it’s all clearly what everyone else wants of her and other female musicians.

The sparkly mermaid.


And then, things start to speed up and go a little rogue. This isn’t your average clown circus. It’s more of a freakshow circus of sideshow acts, like the sparkly mermaid being fed grapes by the creepy mime.

The white cat.


We think that’s a white cat (maybe it’s a monkey?), but whatever it is, it’s wearing a fedora and a vest, and carrying a cane. It also has an affinity for cash money.

The reverse planter.


At one point, there is a person who is putting things on a plant, instead of picking them off — we think they’re apples or oranges. Later, the same person does some interpretive dancing.

All of the cool video effects!
This video plays a lot with colorful backgrounds, interesting transitions, and framing. Look how beautiful they are!



In conclusion, Grimes has outdone herself. This video is a true work of art. Take a peek for yourself.