Music + Movies + Books

Janelle Monae.

So, you know when a bunch of people tell you that they think you’d like really something (a book, a movie, a musician, whatever) so many times that you kind of get this attitude like, “Oh please, if it’s THAT obvious that I’d like it, I’d probably hate it!”, and then you’re reluctant to even give whatever this thing is a chance? …No? Okay, maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, after the millionth person told me I’d probably really dig Janelle Monáe, I finally took five minutes to go on YouTube and watch a few videos and live perfomances, and, well—all of you know-it-alls were right this time. I definitely dig this chick.

I really appreciate when musical artists go the extra mile and put everything they have into all aspects of their public persona and performance—clothing, production, attitude, packaging design, videos, stage presence, references…all of it. There is a quality level that I look for, and it has to be one that’s genuine, not contrived by a label or the artist as an attention-getting gimmick that detracts from the music itself. I’m talking about real style that serves to complement actual talent. (Think: James Brown, Prince, Morrissey, Siouxsie, Michael Jackson, David Bowie…)

On top of all of that style, Janelle is…really, really great. (Ugh, could I possibly be a worse “reviewer”?) I’m also excited to be excited about cool music being released by someone 10 years younger than me, rather than 20+ years older. That doesn’t happen often, probably because of that cruddy attitude I mentioned having.

In other words: Janelle Monáe! Yay!

ETA: Since everyone is talking about her Letterman performance, I figured I’d edit it in. Also, WOW. Also, why do I not own a pair of saddle shoes?

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  • Reply victoria May 27, 2010 at 1:15 am

    sold!! wow! thanks for the introduction. she’s rad!

  • Reply Siobhan May 27, 2010 at 1:15 am


  • Reply jenna at sweet fine day May 27, 2010 at 1:28 am

    yeah, she’s rad. I love this video. And there’s something about the way she screams “ow!” that reminds me of young MJ. Ok, there, I said it.

  • Reply Tommy May 27, 2010 at 1:45 am

    She is definitely the truth! Did you see the performance on Letterman?

  • Reply HIStory May 27, 2010 at 6:23 am

    my fav line: In other words: Janelle Monáe! Yay!

    Lol, i Totally agree.

  • Reply kat May 27, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Yes! She’s been in heavy rotation on CBC radio here in Toronto and I tend to get a bit ridiculous in my car. I definitely hear shades of Outkast (the influence of Big Boi?), but hope she goes farther than “Hey Ya!”.

    PS: it doesn’t hurt that she has a quiff of sorts, does it? 😉

  • Reply Alina May 27, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Wow – thanks, total funk religious experience!

  • Reply Adam May 27, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I have been checking her out and think I will continue to do so! She’s really got something going!

  • Reply Michelle May 27, 2010 at 8:39 am

    I saw her on Letterman and sat there completely entranced through her entire performance. She is awesome & I was shocked I hadn’t heard of her before that.

  • Reply Anna at D16 May 27, 2010 at 9:53 am

    @jenna: Yes, totally — her “ow!” sounds verrrrry much like young MJ, especially in “I Wanna Be Where You Are”! 🙂

    @Tommy: No, I didn’t see her on Letterman (I’ll have to check it out later), but I did see her on Ellen. Fabulous!

    @kat: A quiff never hurt anyone, that’s for sure. 🙂

  • Reply flights of fancy May 27, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Totally agree! Saw her perform live a couple years ago and was mesmerized. She’s definitely got a specific point of view and I’m digging it. Yay indeed!

  • Reply Jen May 27, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Oh wow- I LOVE her! Thanks for the great post and the introduction to Miss Monáe.. AMAZING.

  • Reply Jeremy May 27, 2010 at 10:17 am

    oh man her band is so awesome. just watched her Letterman performance the other day.

  • Reply Kim May 27, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Thanks for sharing. She is really awesome and I am off to Itunes to download!!

  • Reply Jessica May 27, 2010 at 11:35 am

    oh my! thank you, thank you

  • Reply Cheryl May 27, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Wow. I heard one of her songs on NPR over the weekend but hadn’t yet gotten a chance to listen to anything else of hers. This video has me sold. Her dancing is fabulous. Some of her singing takes me back to the Jackson 5. Love it.

  • Reply jennifer in sf May 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I never really thought I’d give saddle shoes a serious thought, but she’s made me do it!

  • Reply Peter May 27, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I first saw her on Stargate Universe and had to look her up! She’s amazing. Her dancing and singing are mesmerizing.

  • Reply Carly May 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Wow, this girl is awesome, thanks for the notice!

  • Reply quelle May 27, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    love it! thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Yolanda May 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Heard about her, but didn’t have th chance to check it out until now. Awesome! Love the D16 color scheme, too!

  • Reply Caroline May 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    oh yeah! this work is such a great breakout from conventional musicianship. and the dancing…oh the dancing is brilliant. LOVE IT! Thanks.

  • Reply Fiona May 27, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    All of the above plus…. FULLY DRESSED! Very cool.

  • Reply Catherine May 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Just discovered Janelle this week myself – she’s a real breath of fresh air! May she never trade the suits and awesome retro dance moves for hot pants and booty shaking.

  • Reply Catherine May 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I’m glad she’s getting such good press. I saw her open for No Doubt in June of last year, and she’s completely rad as a live performance.

  • Reply megan May 28, 2010 at 12:14 am

    ok, she is awesome. thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Catherine May 28, 2010 at 12:24 am

    I hadn’t heard of her until this Monday when a friend gave me her album saying it was pure pop perfection. I have to say I rather agree and it’s been on non stop ever since.

  • Reply Kathinka May 28, 2010 at 4:25 am

    you are completely right, now I cant stop listening to her. I love your blog btw, its a huge inspiration!!

  • Reply m May 28, 2010 at 9:41 am

    she sounds great, like a younger, funkier sharon jones (and the dap kings).

  • Reply erin@designcrisis May 28, 2010 at 11:04 am

    The hair alone makes her worth checking out. Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply Making it Lovely May 28, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Yeah. Totally into her lately too.

  • Reply Jesse Lu May 28, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Yeah, love this girl… I’ve been watching Tightrope non-stop since I heard it.

  • Reply Design Blahg May 28, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    She rules my face.

    Also: “not contrived by a label or the artist as an attention-getting gimmick that detracts from the music itself.” –YESSSS! In fact, this is why I just can’t get over my hatred of Lady Gaga. Every single solitary nuance of her persona her is completely manufactured and gimmicky.

    Anyway, go Janelle!

  • Reply tamstyles May 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    she is the business…so under rated! but her time will come full blast. I found shoes like hers at a dlea market a while back for 30 and love em.

  • Reply Sarah May 29, 2010 at 12:14 am

    LOVE! She popped up on my radar a while back just from a visual/style perspective, makes me so happy to hear such amazing music goes along with such a unique, beautiful style.

  • Reply frannie May 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    someone else noted the young sharon jones comparison.

    such great style…

  • Reply this humble abode May 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    I am exactly the same way about people raving too much. You’d be shocked at some of the movies I refuse to watch because everyone in the whole world had to gush on and on. I know I’m missing out occasionally (I almost didn’t see Amelie) but it totally turns me off to see everyone else so turned on.

  • Reply lindsey clare June 4, 2010 at 2:35 am

    wow. yes. she is fantastic. those shoes! that dancing. i want to be in that video.

  • Reply Stacey June 6, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I’m ecstatic that she’s getting the publicity that she deserves. She is certainly unique and is a breath of fresh air. My husband and I refer to her as the female version of Andre3000 from Outcast. We love her and definitely appreciate her style!

  • Reply amr June 7, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Go ahead Janelle! It is your time to finally shine and be the star that you are! I love it!

  • Reply amy goodhouse June 15, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I was trying to google her name and mistakenly kept writing “Janae Morelle”.

    But thanks to my memory of your post I was able to check back here and get her correct name! duh.

    Can’t wait to check her out!

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