Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Whatever Happened To RnB? - Janelle Monae Double Bill! Q.U.E.E.N. and Dance Apocalyptic

Remember when 702 had a promising career and Destinys Child released that terrible Sex In The City inspired video? In this weekly feature, I take a look back at some of the best RnB artists of yesteryear, sharing their signature videos and underrated hits, as well as looking at what's happening in RnB today. Previous posts have focussed on Lumidee and Teairra Mari, as well as new videos from Frank Ocean and Ciara. Today, the spotlight is on one of RnBs most underrated artists, Janelle Monae.
While Janelle Monae is probably most famous for her duet with fun. on the 2012 smash 'We Are Young', Monaes' first album 'The Archandroid' was one of the most original debuts released in the last decade, combining a variety of genres into one unique signature sound. Although the album received huge critical success, singles such as 'Tightrope' and 'Cold War' failed to make much of an impact on the commercial charts. 

What I love most about Monae is the bizarre fictional story that forms the backdrop for her material. As the android Cindi Mayweather, the singer has apparently traveled back from the future to free the citizens of Metropolis from an oppressive society who condemns freedom and love. Yes, I know this may sound pretentious but Monae's concept actually adds another unique dimension to her music and if you don't like it, then you at least have to give her credit for trying something different in an industry of top 40 wannabes.

Janelle Monae's long awaited follow up, 'The Electric Lady', will continue the story of Cindi Mayweather in the 'Metropolis' saga and rumours suggest that the album will feature guest appearances from Miguel and even Prince. Two videos have been released to promote the project so far.

First up is a duet with soul singer Erykah Badu called 'Q.U.E.E.N.', which was apparently inspired by private conversations held between the two artists. The song is slightly unusual in structure, with plenty of random spoken interludes interwoven amongst the synths and funky guitar playing. Upon first hearing 'Q.U.E.E.N.', I didn't warm to it as quickly as I did with 'Tightrope' but the song is definitely a grower and it made more sense to me after watching the bonkers futuristic promo, which you can check out below.

"Am I freak for dancing around? 
Am I a freak for getting down?"

Follow up single 'Dance Apocalyptic' is more immediately accessible with its pop chorus and 60s style backing but it also retains the mad genius of its predecessor with a video that includes aliens, fires and zombies, just not in that order. This is the video Britney should have filmed for 'Till The World Ends'. Remix anyone?

"But I really really wanna thank you for dancing till the end."

'The Electric Lady' will be released on 10th September and if there's any justice in the world, it should cement Janelle Monae as one of the most exciting artists of our generation. Conventional RnB this ain't!

So are you looking forward to Monaes' new project? Which single is your favourite so far? And how do you feel about Monae losing the quiff for her most recent promo? Let me know what you think by commenting, liking and sharing below. Remember to come back soon for another edition of Whatever Happened To RnB? 


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