The Belle Jar- Union Station
Mar 5, 2014
We all have a soft spot for pop music, but we don’t need to keep it a secret anymore. Janelle Monae is the real deal – a bona fide pop star with genuine credibility.
She breezes her way through R&B, soul, funk, pop and dance, weaving between sharp horn sections, Hendrix-style guitar solos, dance beats and everything in between.
The ArchAndroid, her debut album, runs through a labyrinth of genres, telling the story of an android in the year 2719.
The futuristic epic also pays homage to the past. On “Tightrope,” Monae delivers lines like, “Whether I’m high or low, I’m gonna tip on the tightrope,” with all the diction of Otis Redding. She also uses semi-improvised, spoken-word segues like “Now put some voodoo on it,” mimicking soul legends.
She also tackles “Ziggy Stardust” psychedelic rock on “Mushrooms & Roses,” which according to the liner notes, was inspired by a stage dive at Bonnaroo and Jack White’s mustache. Monae’s melting pot also includes guests like Saul Williams, Big Boi and Of Montreal, who each brought their unique flavor.
The ArchAndroid fuses all sorts of styles but remains cohesive – like a science fiction Thriller.
Janelle Monae is taking the guilt out of pop music. We should all thank her.
Check out the video for "Tightrope":