It has now been a full year since her death. Yet, her legacy still massages the ears of her fans as it travels through their headphones. All is Vanity combines tracks from Side B EP and more new tracks of Christina Grimmie that emanate from a spirit that’s never lost its light. Grimmie’s death was a tragedy; this album is a delightful commemoration.
Apart from “Invisible”, “I Only Miss You When I Breathe”, and “The Game”, the Grimmie family released more new tunes that are encapsulated with Grimmie’s heart and soul. The array of messages conveyed and power displayed on this album are, needless to say, amazing. However, what’s truly spectacular about this new batch of music is the use of technological elements and balladry. Her arrangement with synthesizers and bass lines makes these new songs a breath of fresh air.
Top 3 Techno Tracks
The track that Christina was most excited for fans to hear was “Sublime”. Like several songs on the album, what makes this one special is the diversity of the music behind her. Combined with her own echoed background vocals and a strong bass, Grimmie’s youthful artistry incorporated drums & guitars, and mashed them up into modern masterpieces. Synthesized guitars and chimes in the verses perfectly complement her lower register. And as the verses evolve with an increasing tempo in the chorus, more background elements flow throughout her higher runs that isolate the vocal power within her.
Acoustic guitars synched up with quirky melodies and techno- spirit brought “Everybody Lies” to fruition. While singing about finding a “knife in your back” after losing someone’s trust, Grimmie’s simple, somber tone is juxtaposed by her arrangement. The acoustic guitar has a high pitch ukulele feel to it, which adds a speck of light into her reflective message, “We always want to cast the blame/ Always waiting for the world to change/ Maybe we should start with ourselves”. The other unique element Grimmie adds is a softening of her falsetto. Her head voice has undertones of anger and the need for self reflection, which allows her to build up for the 2:30 mark- where she explodes with powerful notes at the top of her register.
“Pressure” is the other track that relies on a diverse collection of synthpop magic to carry a plethora of powerful messages. “Pressure” incorporates a message of following your heart despite what others want you to do. Grimmie utilizes spoken critical commentary to emphasize this by seemingly “ridiculing” herself while she sings. (For example, the backtalk calls her an “anime character” and “stupid.”) The techno downbeat of drums and arena-styled pulses also provide room to overpower the critique and soar with her positive attitude.
In addition to her brilliant use of techno-pop, Grimmie’s balladry and sentimental composition shine in “Crowded Room” and “Echo”. “Crowded Room” opens with a heavenly hum that sounds like a cross over between a grand piano and a violin. Steady snapping slowly enters the mix as Grimmie’s voice quickly addresses being surrounded by familiar faces without knowing her own. Imagery of a “pale white moon” and “danc[ing] in the dark” are sung with the breathier side of her voice. This opens Grimmie up to a more vulnerable position which causes her to “bury [her] head in the sand.” In essence, this ballad is the most open we see on this posthumous album and its elements are quite perfect.
While “Echo” is certainly more lively than “Crowded Room” , it contains a similar sentiment. The focal point/lyric in this song that Grimmie sings is a rhetorical question asserting what this piece is all about. Immediately filled with tenacity, Grimmie sings “Should I be sorry for being me?” which reveals a negative experience with a lover. The lover doesn’t treat her like one in a million and Grimmie vows to echo why he’s way wrong.
Her synthesized drums and recorded background vocals help her with this, along with some slight keyboard tones. What’s truly special about these elements, however, is the way they mix together. Background vocals are a few steps down from Grimmie and the synthesized music creates subtle harmonies with the extra vocals. Altogether, “Echo” contains the emotional strength that runs so vibrantly in Grimmie’s soul.
“Maybe I” and “Steady Love”, also possess upbeat messages full of the synthpop that Grimmie orchestrated. From messages of loving yourself to giving hope to others, Grimmie’s soul shines through every second. Even though “Steady Love” is more of a filler and is repetitive throughout, it is still an admirable track. Additionally, had Grimmie varied the melody of the acoustic guitar and dubstep in “Maybe I”, the song would have a more personal feel like the other tracks. Nevertheless, I am grateful that the Grimmie family released these two songs along with the rest of All is Vanity.
While some continue to dwell on her passing, Christina Grimmie’s music continues to live on and inspire other artists. Grimmie’s season 6 “The Voice” coach, Adam Levine, knows that “it is unfair that she’s not here,” but we all can appreciate the music that she left behind and would have continued to refine.
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