Janelle Monae goes classic popstar for her latest video, the second single from The Electric Lady, due for a 10th September release.
With her incredibly versatile vocal abilities and fantastic stage presence, Janelle’s pretty much got free reign with the style of music she puts out. Her dependable level of performance and infectious energy add the consistency to bind the diversity of her work together, and that variety is on show once again- whilst Q.U.E.E.N. came on a more soul-funk tip, this one seems to throw back to the sounds of the 60s (and even earlier), with bouncy yet light guitars, fast-paced percussion and backing vocals that add a ton of melody to proceedings. Janelle’s vocals are upbeat, positive and high-tempo, keeping pace with that rapid drum line well, whilst having plenty of catchy rhythmic sections to get listeners singing along. It’s an addictive, energetic ride that you’ll find rather easy to replay.
The video is another fun effort from Monae, and hangs well with the uptempo vibe of the track. Monae (literally) lets her hair down and pretty much gets wild, demonstrating her inimitable on-screen magnetism with a passionate performance that makes a mockery of the relatively regular environment the vidoe is set in. She looks great, she sounds fantastic, and with this audiovisual Monae once again proves to be one of the most complete acts in music today. That album cannot come soon enough.
For most artists, getting Prince on a remix is not only an honour, but a massive surprise. Here however, it’s not actually that shocking, given both the funky vibe of the track and the eclectic nature of the two talented ladies involved, and instead it feels like a rather natural fit.
The production is retooled to pull back a little on the bouncy, upbeat elements and instead Prince throws in sleazy, late 80s/early 90s-style melodies for a throwback vibe that works perfectly with the original vocals. The addition of thick, chunky bass is what really anchors that retro vibe, evoking memories of the funk-inspired hip-hop beats Digital Underground often favoured, whilst the the retention of the more vintage pieces in the original production only serve to further that trip down memory lane. Sadly, there’s no vocal contribution on this potentially-unfinished version, but we can hold out hope that we’ll get a sprinkling of Prince’s unique delivery on a proper release for this remix. Nonetheless, it’s a good rework of the Janelle Monae single that doesn’t stray too far from its original charm.
It only happens with particularly gifted acts, but when you spend a lot of time immersed in someone’s music, it’s rather easy to forget the other facets of their act, brand and personality. Allow Janelle’s new video to be a reminder of just what she can bring to the table.
Whether it’s a crisp fashion sense that lands somewhere between vintage and forward-thinking, a hugely charismatic on-screen presence through fun facial expressions and great body language, or her skills as both a choreographed dancer and a freeform rhythmic mover, Janelle’s one of the most rounded entertainers in music today. And we’ve not even touched on her impressive vocal capabilities.
This clip combines all of the above talents in with a video that’s wrapped in good production values and great colour palettes: opening with the minimal white environment, Janelle’s movements are similarly economical before expanding into more energetic expressionism, which coincides with the injection of more chromatic vibrancy. Things get suitably leftfield when Badu enters the fray, with the track’s relative mellowing coinciding with the appearance of a poodle, lots of clocks, and Erykah looking rather dishevelled. The video ends well, with Monae’s defiant closer throwing out all of the detailing used previously and instead focusing on her lyricism and its empassioned delivery. It’s a fantastic video for a track that gets better with every listen, and that Electric Lady LP can’t come soon enough.
No-one in the last 5 years has made as big an impact on the soul genre as Janelle Monae. Her 2010 album, The ArchAndroid, has stood up in the intervening period as one of the best neo-soul albums in recent memory, whilst her exploits elsewhere (not least on fun.’s huge We Are Young single) have allowed her talents to be exposed to wider audiences. Monae returns with this brand new effort, featuring one of neo-soul’s pioneers, and taken from her upcoming Electric Lady album.
Immediately noticeable is the funk influence on the instrumentation, with jagged, razor-sharp guitar plucks instantly adding attitude and a fun rebelliousness to the track. Those strums are eventually backed by retro-style samples, smooth, clap-heavy percussion and more, adding plenty of character and padding out that backdrop with a positivity that’s quite infectious. Janelle and Erykah are two of the finest vocalists in the game, and the guitar work brings the best from both, with energetic, stop-start vocals that annunciate heavily to enhance the in-your-face, punchy nature of the track, whilst the brief moments where they cut loose from that mould are great demonstrations of their melodic ability. A lively track with plenty of bounce, it’s a track that should find favour with both Janelle’s fans and a wider R&B/soul audience.
A very slow week for R&B/pop music this week (those new Chris Brown/Rihanna collaborations don’t count as music), and as a result it’s a pretty short, and stream-heavy, episode this week.
I’ve made this statement before, but R&B really is in a bad spot at the minute, with a serious lack of both quantity and quality as many of its stars are either inactive or pursuing pop careers. It’s a sad state of affairs, but I retain hope that the likes of The-Dream will be back soon to restore the natural order.
These Game Changer videos are seriously becoming music highlights of my week. The last two episodes were extremely captivating, and both offered insights into different aspects of each artist’s personalities.
This week’s delves into self-esteem, misconceptions of success/confidence, and even more. It ends on a very inspirational note too, and surely offers a lot of hope to artists who are coming up right now through many of the same struggles these shining lights have faced.
Sadly, this seems to be the last ‘episode’ of this particular series, but hopefully we’ll get another roundtable with some different artists soon, as this was a genuinely enlightening mini-series that probably got more good PR for Atlantic than anything else they’ve ever done!
A few interesting remixes this week, with over a third of this week’s tracks being of the remix variety. Other great tracks in there too, making this an R&B Friday that you’ll forgive for being a little late to the party.
I really enjoyed part 1 of the Game Changers series, offering us an insight into the minds and motivations of four globally successful, and critically-acclaimed artists. Definitely worth a watch.
Part 2 continues in the same vein, offering a further look into the ways in which they feel they’ve changed the ‘game’, with each artist giving very different accounts: from Estelle’s more descriptive process to B.o.B philosophical musings, this roundtable discussion is a very refreshing watch that really fleshes out the ‘characters’ we see on TV or hear on iTunes. Another good video, and hopefully there are more of these to come!
3 of the most diverse and talented acts around the music scene at this moment in time (2 of whom feature in this video) combine to give us a truly sensational performance.
First off, we have B.o.B combing with both Janelle (backing vocals) and Bruno (keyboard) to give an enchanting rendition of Nothin’ On You. Bobby Ray then jumps onto the keyboard as Mars, whose vocals are once again utterly superb, breaks out into an amazing 50′s inspired performance of Grenade (grab the latest remix here). We then get treated to Janelle Monáe singing her brilliant single, Cold War, as B.o.B gets on the guitar and Bruno smashes it on the drums.
Somehow, both Bobby Ray and Janelle Monáe managed to walk away from the Grammys with nothing, though Bruno Mars managed to pick up the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance award. Props to Ajay for spotting Bruno’s talent way back in November ’09
Atlantic Records present a very interesting roundtable discussion series, kicking with four of their most prominent artists. I’ve definitely got appreciation for all of them too (albeit to varying degrees), and it’s a fantastic insight into the motivations, artistic directions and individuality of each of the artists.
It’s so rare to find such detailed, honest discussion, and it certainly results in an eye-opening look at the power of the industry, the drive it takes to follow your own directions and a whole lot more. In particular, Janelle Monae comes across incredibly well, articulating her studied and measured approach superbly and really embellishing her artistic integrity.
Normally I don’t have the patience for these long videos, but I can’t recommend this one enough. You’ll definitely be left wanting part 2!
The footage is from a recent concert, and whilst it seems quite far away, the audio quality is surprisingly good. Janelle’s clearly got the respect of some of the biggest names in the music world right now (rightfully so), and collaborations like this will hopefully become commonplace.
It’s a fantastic duet, and I’d love for a studio version to be released at some point, as there voices work brilliantly with one another. This video has certainly solidified my love for Janelle’s voice, particularly between 3:30 and 4:00: a great performance of a classic song!
It’s been a hectic few days for me, and unfortunately some great music got put on the backburner as a result. My apologies for holding this stuff from you, but you know how we do it around here: we don’t post the stuff until we’re ready to do it justice!
First up is a fantastic little track from the brilliant Janelle Monae, who brings her modern soul sounds to Max Frost and The Troopers’ 1968 single. It retains a vintage sensibility in its jazzy production, but is embellished appropriately by Monae’s energetic and memorable vocals. I just wish it was longer!
Real nice remix to a track dropped by Ajay a while back . It’s a bouncy, funky, head nodding affair – happy music if you will, which is much welcomed considering how depressingly slow it’s been today (as well as yesterday) for new music! Stupid sexy July 4th American holiday.
Ajay brought you this official remix a month ago (click here to get hold of the track) and now we have the visuals. Always great to see B.o.B and Lupe Fiasco, even better to see them on the same track and video!
Janelle Monae grabs two of hip-hop’s finest for a complete remix of her awesome track Tightrope. The original was energetic and bouncy, and the remix retools the beat into a much more hip-hop oriented style. Nice to see someone doing a proper remix for a change, in terms of adjusting the production as well as adding guest spots.
A very solid remix from top to bottom: nice work on the production, new Lupe and B.o.B verses, and most importantly those ever-harmonic vocals from the inimitable Janelle Monae.
I got quite lucky with this week’s episode. I’d hoped to throw in a couple of older tracks that I revisited/reloved this week, and thankfully there hasn’t been a huge glut of material released this week to overshadow that. Don’t panic: Naturally, there is still a load of new stuff. I usually try to sneak in some older tracks when I can (dedicated followers will attest to this), I’m just extra keen this week.
Quite the range of acts once again, both in terms of popularity and age, with the boy Justin Bieber making an appearance as well as veterans Jagged Edge. Not too much range in the quality though: it’s predominantly good stuff as I’ve taken time to root out (most of) the poor stuff. Any crap stuff is just there to make the rest look better.
I’ve been listening to a lot of R&B this week, so click on to sort yourself out for the coming week.