In an era when so many artists rely on shock value to turn heads, it’s almost more shocking when someone like Janelle Monae comes along and turns heads without relying on hypersexuality.
If you’re unfamiliar with this genre-defying, era-blending, snazzy-dressing, alter-ego-having, vocally gifted, business-savvy genius…well then, I’m happy to introduce you.
She’s an artist who seems to exist in the past and the future all at once. Her ability to create immediately catchy pop gems makes her perfect for the mp3 age. Meanwhile, her ability to create high-concept albums connected by a continuous story arc places her more in the context of The Who, Pink Floyd, David Bowie.
On this particular song, she builds a wonderful loungy atmosphere worthy of a James Bond theme song from the late 60s.
What makes this a beautiful song:
1. The chord progression keeps you guessing. It’s not crazy enough to alienate your ears, but different enough to be interesting.
2. The triangle. It doesn’t show up too often, just every few bars to sprinkle a bit of fairy dust.
3. I love the way the backup vocals echo her on lines like “love is fantasy” at 1:00. My dream in life is to have a group of backup singers follow me around all day to emphasize important things I say.
Recommended listening activity:
Getting fitted for a tuxedo.