I didn’t intend for this to be an all female vocalist week, but here we are and there it is. Anyway, Janelle Monae:
Janelle Monae is really confusing to me, because she’s exactly the sort of musician I feel like I should like, and yet I can’t quite get there. Her aesthetic is really interesting, she’s nerdy in the sort of way few musicians are, and she uses a sci-fi concept that no one’s really using, meshing concepts from Metropolis and Blade Runner into an extended concept project that should, by all rights, be awesome. She’s doing something really unique by cross-breeding these concepts into R&B, she’s an amazing singer, and even her most conventional music videos still exist in the strange universe she’s created for her android protagonist Cindy Mayweather (and how much of a 1920’s protagonist name is that I mean how can you not love it), so honestly, it’s exactly the sort of thing that should speak to me on a primal level.
Monae’s non-single worthy tracks are generally questionable at the best of times, and even some of the tracks she does release as singles aren’t anything interesting (“PrimeTime” is boring as shit for example). Her best work, outside of her first record, is in simple songs that make small steps forward, and until “We Were Rock and Roll” becomes a single from the record, “Electric Lady” is probably the best song from her most recent release of the same name. Hanging out with Prince and Erykah Badu will probably help her out a bit going forward, but man, I want to love this so bad and it’s just a couple radio-friendly tracks and then… nothing.