I Fell In Love Today… Janelle Monae!

On my drive back to Las Vegas for winter break, I was fortunate to have a newly purchased album, “The ArchAndroid” by an artist by the name of Janelle Monae.

Over Thanksgiving weekend my father told me about this chat he heard on NPR about their selection for “Album of the Year.” They have never unanimously agreed on an “Album of the Year” award, until this year. You got it, Janelle Monae was the artist to break the streak and earn a unanimous vote for the “2010 Album of the Year.” As an early Christmas present, my father said to buy it and that he would steal it from me and pay for it when I got into town. I have to thank him for more than just the early Christmas present, for I think I am in love.

The album is absolutely stellar! Each song is its own embodiment of a new style and form, which tries the listener in a unique way. It all works as a concept album in its entirety, but upon my first listen I found myself being forced into active listening. I would wait for the next bass walk-down or harmony part or string section to come whirling in. Not many, nay, no other artists beside The Beatles have passively activated my astute attention to detail while listening to an album. One cannot help but fall into a fit of affection for the brilliant artist that meticulously crafted this masterpiece. To put out such a wonderfully orchestrated album, you just have to respect and become intrigued with Janelle’s great attention to detail.

The Mastermind: Janelle Monae. She turns heads with her diminutive and slender figure, not to mention her accentuated pompadour. But, it is her musical genius, pure vocal skill, and obvious unique perspective on this same world that we all see that demands everyone’s attention. She must see in Technicolor, while we see in grays!

The single from the album, “Tightrope”, features Big Boi from Outkast and is an obvious throwback to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, complete with her vocal stylings and a wicked horn section she puts on display towards the end of the track. There are hints of The Runaways in “Come Alive(War of the Roses)”, along with glimpses of some Mariah Carey-like range on an accentuated wailing fit towards the end of the track. “Neon Street Valley” has shades of Whitney Houston meeting Sade. It has a funky bass line with sensual and controlled vocals that, like the lyrics implore, “may this song reach your heart,” indeed do so. As the song proceeds, there is a nice breakdown in the middle for a rapped verse, similar to Lauryn Hill of old. Those are just a few that have evident shadows of some greats that have come to pass. The rest of the 18 track album is, without a doubt, the future. She teams with the odd indie-synth group Of Montreal for a track that proves ever so fun and hip, with some light allusions to the silliness of the 1980’s. Every time you think you know where it is going, it moves in a new and excited direction you would have never guessed. The album is complete with two instrumental overtures that seem to be prologues to their respective chapters in the story.

Artistry like what Janelle has produced just doesn’t seem to exist anymore. I hope you all take a minute to give it a listen and, at the very least, respect the masterpiece that Ms. Monae has constructed.

Enjoy the videos below. Apologies for putting a bunch, but, like I said, her style changes song to song. To just put one would insult her as an artist.

3 Responses to “I Fell In Love Today… Janelle Monae!”
  1. r gladwell says:

    wonderfully written…and congrats on listening to your father….

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