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Music / St. Vincent

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The Patron Saint of Guitar Shreds and Lyrical Dissonance

"It's the place where poetry goes to die. That's me."
Annie Clark, on her stage name.

St. Vincent is the stage name of multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Annie was part of The Polyphonic Spree (a choral symphonic rock band) and part of Sufjan Stevens' touring band before going solo with the name St. Vincent, which she claims to be either a reference to Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center, where the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas died in 1953, or her grandmother's middle name.

As of 2017, she has released six albums:

  • Marry Me (2007)
  • Actor (2009)
  • Strange Mercy (2011)
  • Love This Giant (2012), a collaboration with David Byrne.
  • St. Vincent (2014)
  • Masseduction (2017)

St. Vincent also opened shows to diverse bands like Television, Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie, Grizzly Bear, and Andrew Bird. She and Bon Iver also composed the song Roslyn, part of the New Moon soundtrack- as one of the examples of critically-acclaimed musicians associated with the Twilight movies.


Annie Clark's music contains heavy guitar riffs (her signature instrument) together with somehow melodic singing and melodies, and angry lyrics.

In 2013, Annie was awarded the Smithsonian's American Ingenuity Award in the Performing Arts. At the 2015 Grammy Awards, her Self-Titled Album took home the award for Best Alternative Music Album.

Relevant tropes related to her or her music are:

  • Contemptible Cover: MassEducation, an acoustic companion album to Masseduction, demonstrates on the cover that it features stripped-down versions of the songs by showing the singer, well...(May also count as Visual Pun.)
  • Advertisement:
  • Corpsing: Annie is clearly doing her best to not crack up when she has a live swan on her lap in the "New York" video but she's slightly smirking anyway.
  • Darker and Edgier: the dual-singles "Krokodil" and the Swans-esque "Grot", which compared to the rest of her work are outright brutal & menacing as well as having an extreme sense of mood-whiplash, especially with "Grot". Alas, nothing similar appeared on the more restrained St Vincent.
  • Downer Ending:
    • "Cruel": Annie is kidnapped by a motherless family, forced to be a housewife and routinely abused, until she's buried alive. The objective feel of the video and Annie's stoic demeanor make all this Black Comedy.
    • "Cheerleader": Annie is a larger-than-life, hyper-realistic sculpture à la Ron Mueck who comes to life. She tries to escape the gallery where she's kept, but ends up collapsing under her own weight.
    • Masseduction, otherwise (mostly) consisting of upbeat power-pop, ends with "Smoking Section", which features Annie casually considering suicide.
      "And sometimes I go, to the edge of my roof/And I think I'll jump, just to punish you."
  • Face on the Cover: The albums Actor and Marry Me simply have Annie Clark on the cover in her signature clear wide eyed gaze. St. Vincent has a full-body portrait of the artist sitting on a throne.
  • Fun with Palindromes: Before she was St. Vincent and was just a young student of the Berklee College of Music, she released an EP titled Ratsliveonnoevilstar.
  • Lyric Swap:
    • In some live versions of "Strange Mercy", the lyric: "If I ever find the dirty policeman who roughed you up," is altered into a harsher "fucked you up".
    • In some live versions, the lyric in "Prince Johnny", "And bragged of when and where and who you're gonna bed next", gets switched to "...and who you're gonna fuck next."
  • Mondegreen: A rare written example. When St. Vincent first announced the title of Masseduction, a number of people mentioned that they read it as Masseducation at first glance. Clark must have been listening, because she named the acoustic piano version of Masseduction none other than Mass Education.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: With references to "horsehair whips", safe words ("who will hear/hear your word?"), and masochism ("heal my hurt"), "Chloe In the Afternoon" can definitely be interpreted as this.
  • Self-Titled Album: It took her four albums to get there, but she got there and unlike other albums, there's a definite reason for the choice, indicating her growth and self-realization.
    St. Vincent: “I was reading Miles Davis’ autobiography and in it he talks about how the hardest thing for any musician to do is to sound like yourself. And I thought, ‘You know what? I sound like myself on this record.'
  • The Something Song: "The Apocalypse Song".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Surreal Music Video: In "Digital Witness", she looks like a mental patient witnessing pseudo-military actions in a desolate, futuristic city.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The speaker of "Champagne Year" openly admits that she makes a "living telling people what they want to hear" before declaring that it's going to be a "champagne year".


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