Well, unlike some infatuations, my lust-on for Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope” – a recent “Song of the Day” – shows no sign of abating. The video… so awesome. But the song is terrific on its own, and the whole album is solid. Currently, though, I’m got her previous effort on continuous repeat…
Janelle Monáe, “Violet Stars Happy Hunting!” – from her debut album Metropolis-Suite I: The Chase (2007) – with an apparently semi-autobiographical riff that is really great, and worth listening to closely for its insights into Monáe’s project.
The fictional sci fi world that Monáe depicts in her albums – this one and the just-released ArchAndroid – is one of cyborgs and androids, phasers and “electro-daggers,” bounty hunters and a “Star Commission” (Star Chamber?), cy-boys and cyber-girls, that draws for its imagery and ideas on films like Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927 – recently restored and re-released) and Bladerunner (Ridley Scott, 1982), and also perhaps the music videos created by Chris Cunningham for björk:
I have to say, though, much as I like björk and enjoy her videos, I don’t think any video is going to impress me in the slightest until the impact of “Tightrope” has worn off – until that lust-on fades. Remember how people used to go on about Michael Jackson’s dance moves in his videos? Well, go watch “Tightrope” again and check out Monáe’s moves…
I find it interesting that the name of the alter-ego that Monáe adopts in these records – the android Cindi Mayweather – is similar to the name of the alterego adopted by the science fiction writer Pat Murphy, Max Merriwell, in eg Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell. But I don’t want to make a claim for any influence there until I’ve had a chance to really parse and make sense of the world/story/character Monáe constructs in the two albums…
Janelle Monae: A Dance Musician Who Dreams In Science Fiction: Janelle Monae is hard to pin down.
She plays indie-rock festivals and the R&B circuit. She sports tuxedos and a sky-high pompadour. And her musical influences seem to include a blend of James Brown, David Bowie, Nona Hendryx and Kraftwerk…. (via NPR.)
And because it’s all so good, here’s the next track on Metropolis: Janelle Monáe, “Many Moons”
- Metropolis Suite I of IV: The Chase – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- Metropolis: The Chase Suite – Amazon.com
- Metropolis: The Chase Suite – iTunes
- Janelle Monae: An ‘ArchAndroid’ Ascends : NPR.
- Janelle Monae’s Funky Otherworldly Sounds – on Fresh Air.