Dark Light

Released: 2020

“4ÆM” by Grimes is a celestial trip inside the complex mind of an artist battling with self-doubt and loss of control, all under the cover of darkness during the witching hour. Grimes taps into the ethereal symbol of Aphrodite and the anonymity of late-night encounters to paint a picture of her struggle with the personal fallout of her chosen lifestyle.

The song starts with “Aphrodite, I wrote your constellation into the sky”, demonstrating the artist’s desire for divine beauty and a strong creative power. She’s actively creating a universe that emulates Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, suggesting she’s seeking an idealized version of love and creativity. The repeated line “S-s-sa, s-s-sa, s-s-sa, s-s-sa, ooh, suns at night” works like a mantra, mimicking the meditative hum of a late-night creative session.

In the chorus, with the line “I’m out late at 4 a.m,” Grimes is both physically and metaphorically ‘out’ – she’s out of control, out of sync with societal norms, and out of her comfort zone. The person asking “How’s the weather, baby? How you been?” symbolizes those who are disconnected from her reality. They trivialize her struggles with trivial small talk. The weather mentioned here isn’t just about meteorological conditions, but rather the storm brewing within her. The recurring line “You’re gonna get sick, you don’t know when, I never doubt it, at 4 a.m,” denotes vulnerability and the fear of succumbing to the pressures and consequences of an unruly lifestyle.

When Grimes says “4 a.m, 4 a.m, Fallin’ down again,” the repetition acts as an echo of her spiraling self-perception. It’s a spiral that continues to the point of unravelling, a state of losing control, which is also the main theme of the song. The mention of ‘falling’ indicates the ultimate submission to her uncontrollable emotions and circumstances.

At the heart of it all, “4ÆM” is a poignant portrayal of Grimes’s struggle with her creative process and the toll it takes on her personal well-being. It’s an exploration of the loneliness and exhaustion that often shroud late-night emotional and creative labor. Through her lyrics, Grimes hits a chord with everyone who’s ever been awake at 4 a.m., grappling with their own version of Aphrodite in a world that ceaselessly asks, “How’s the weather, baby? How you been?”

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