This article was first published in our online discussion forum. Come on over to https://vandervault.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=747 to join the conversation about this article.
When Grace posted on Instagram a few weeks ago the following cryptic message I knew instinctively what she was going to do…

I knew a music video for “I Don’t Like You” was in the works, and the consecutive teases only reinforced my conviction…

 

View this post on Instagram

 

hint 1

A post shared by Grace VanderWaal (@gracevanderwaal) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

only a few more days

A post shared by Grace VanderWaal (@gracevanderwaal) on

On the VanderVault Discussion forum about the teases I wrote on October 29th…

“…my bet is on an “edgy/artsy/angsty” music video for IDLY”

It appears that my faith in Grace was well founded because this seems the closest to Grace’s vision of the artist she is quickly evolving into that we’ve seen so far, though there have been many glimpses since last February…more on that in a minute.

There are several new introductions in this music video.

Not to detract from Blythe Thomas, or any of the other fine music video directors Grace has worked with before, but the level of cinematography on display here is next-level compared to previous efforts as is the freedom of the camera that tracks and complements Grace’s interpretive dance moves that accentuate her tall and lanky frame, her pianist-long fingers (extended further by her black and white painted nails that match her harlequinesque primary costume in the video, and the long thin braids that whip around her like comet tails as she spins around the finely decorated room).

Beyond the beautiful production values of the music video there is something else going on…an introduction to a Grace VanderWaal that is not trying to look like a child. That’s not to say Grace is moving, posing, or behaving in a sexually suggestive manner like so many girls her age are asked to do in the music industry, or tempted to do, at this stage of her career…she’s simply not behaving, or wearing the facial expressions and postures of a child.

She’s also taking herself seriously in this video. There are no goofy winks to the viewer, no hanging out with “Miguel”, and she’s not playing with Frankie in a meadow. She’s expressing her artistic vision and is laser focused on the task. There’s nothing wrong with being goofy, it’s a big part of why her fans (myself included) love her, but she’s set that aside for a moment here. She’s done the same in the music videos for “Moonlight”, “Clearly” and “Stray”, but again, this is next-level work.

Whether she expressed this to the director/cinematographer, or not, Grace has never looked as adult as she does here. Her posture is not slouched, she stands and sits tall, nor does she shy away from looking into the camera…in fact she constantly stares challengingly/proudly through the lens directly at the viewer as though saying; “This is me! Do you see me? Do you finally see me?”

Grace’s evolution into what I’m calling “Grace VanderWaal 2.0” began with her performance of “Stray” at The Slipper Room in Manhattan’s Lower East Side; not coincidentally, I’m sure, the setting of many of the tracks off of her upcoming EP “Letters Volume 1”.

That performance ushered in a new era for an evolving sound, confidence, and maturity. The lyrics of “Stray” are a proclamation that she is finding her own distinct voice again, no matter the struggle, and that she is an artist first and a celebrity second. She made no effort to commercialize the sound of “Stray”. Like the music video for “I Don’t Like You” the sound and lyrics of “Stray” are challenging and filled with pride, not to be confused with vanity, but pride in her hard work on the song (one on which she has sole writing credit, both music and lyrics (referring to “Stray”)) and pride in the honesty of the artistry she was presenting to the world.

It will be interesting to see if she carries some of the aspects of the music video for “I Don’t Like You” into her performance of the song on The Late Late Show with James Cordon tomorrow night. I hope she does, it will be a great introduction to viewers unfamiliar with her and a real wake up call/reminder to those who lost track of her since her AGT run.

I’m not claiming to be prophetic at all, but I always knew, instinctively, that this was the direction Grace has always been heading; edgy, artsy, bold and brilliant.

It will also be interesting to see if Grace paints her recently (last night) shaved eyebrows onto her face for tomorrow night’s performance on Corden’s show, or sticks to her guns with the “alien” aesthetic she’s been talking about since her WhoWhatWear article back in April

We’re in for a wild ride over the next year, and I can’t wait to hear what Grace writes and produces between now and when “Letters Volume 2” is released, and for the music videos (please let there be more) for “The City” and especially “Poseur”.

Speaking for myself, Grace, I love what you’re doing, and how you’re evolving. I’ve got your back. Keep going.