If you’ve been wondering what Grimes has been up to since she broke up with the richest person in the world, well, wonder no longer. The video for her new song, “Player of Games,” released on Dec. 3, has just dropped, and it’s a lot.
The video is an esoteric mashup of sci-fi, fantasy, and anime imagery features. It sees the singer locked in combat, both virtual and actual, with a sinister-looking armored figure whose helmet bears more than a passing resemblance to the Witch King from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King right down to the complete lack of human features underneath.
The singer, born Claire Elise Boucher, and also known as simply “c” – after the variable for the speed of light- conceptualized the epic video herself. Anton Tammi, who handled photography and art direction on The Weeknd’s After Hours album, directed the video. Grimes debuted the video all the way back in July during a DJ set. It’s presumably the first single from the singer’s upcoming album, Book 1.
As for the content, well, it’s something of a smorgasbord of geeky genre-related influences opening with a fantasy-inspired scene that feels more than a little like something out of JRR Tolkien’s work. Grimes is an obvious fan of The Lord of the Rings; the singer sports several tattoos written in Tolkien’s elvish language, Quenya. After a game of chess with the aforementioned knight, things progress to actual swordplay and then onto out and out lightsaber contact – although the way the singer and her opponent handle said light blades shows they do not operate in the same manner they do in the Star Wars movies. Unless there was a deleted sequence featuring some massive and painful laser scarring.
Perhaps more intriguing is that a great deal of the imagery in the video inverts the common “knight in shining armor” trope. Instead, we have a dark knight in scarlet robes literally playing games with a woman he later fights and ultimately kills, both symbolically and actually. Freud much? No one can say how much the artist’s IRL love life influenced her artistic vision, but with lines like:
How can I compare
To the adventure out there? Sail away
To the cold expanse of space”
well, she’s probably not talking about Jake Gyllenhaal.