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Album Review: Janelle Monae’s “The Electric Lady”

Posted by Jessica Gold on 09/24 at 01:58 PM

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Janelle Monae, the dancing machine who’s “uniform” consists of black and white just released her second album called The Electric Lady. Monae hasn’t released an album since her debut, The ArchAndroid in 2010.

The Electric Lady is a mix of 19 songs that channel R&B, Soul and Rock n’ Roll sounds. Many of the songs like “Dance Apocalyptic,” “Q.U.E.E.N.,” “Ghetto Woman,” “We Were Rock and Roll and “Give ‘Em What They Love” are high-energy tracks. They either make you want to bob your head along with the beat or break out in choreography. Appearances by Solange, Erykah Badu, Cee-Lo Green, Miguel, Esperanza Spalding, Prince and Big Boi enhance the album. Some, such as Pretty Much Amazing, would say that The Lady Electric is a double album according to the track list.

If I had to describe this album in one word it would be innovative. The album is put together very well and there is a great mixture of up-tempo songs and ballads. Monae’s sound is very unique and I love that her sound is not typical R&B. She mixes many other styles into her music, which makes her versatile and fresh. I only disliked one track called “Look Into My Eyes.” It sounds like an opera song and it is very boring. I wanted to skip it within the first 30 seconds.

There were several tracks that stood out for me. One of my favorite songs is her single,“Q.U.E.E.N.” featuring Erykah Badu. It’s a guitar-grooving song that makes you want to get up and dance, and also preaches the great message of being comfortable in the skin you’re in and being a leader and role model in our society.

Also of note is the title track “Electric Lady” featuring Solange. The production sounds similar to the music of 90’s R&B girl group TLC. Another one of my favorites is “Victory” because of how personal the lyrics are. Monae talks about the tears and sorrow from her life and she encourages listeners to find glory in the little things. It is extremely inspirational and her voice sounds amazing. Listeners are able to hear her vocal range because of the soprano notes hit in this song.

“It’s Code” reminds me of Jackson 5 records because of its Motown feel. Although the emotion of love is timeless, the sound of this track channels music from the past. She actually sounds like the younger Michael Jackson on this track, not only by the high notes she hits, but also by her ad-libs.

The beginning instrumentals of “Ghetto Woman” sounds like a mixture between a Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson track. The bass, keyboard and percussion are very easy to recognize in this song.  Also, Monae’s tenor vocals on “Cant Live Without Your Love” reminds me of Toni Braxton and Anita Baker, who are known for their deep but sultry voices.

In addition to full tracks, The Electric Lady includes three short interludes: “Good Morning Midnight,“The Chrome Shop,” and “Our Favorite Fugitive.” They seem to be set at a radio station in the 70s with a twist of futuristic-sounding motifs.

“Primetime” featuring Miguel is a little different from the other songs on the album. It’s a love song that seems to be written about a specific person and it could possibly be about a woman. “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes” also seems to be about a woman. Monae sings “that’s when you know you’re hypnotized and her intoxicating will not be denied. And when you touch her glove, she then becomes your drug.”

According to USA Today, Monae would not discuss her own sexual orientation with Sway from MTV because she does not want her fans to stop supporting her. However, she did reveal her beliefs on love:

I have friends who are in same-sex relationships and I feel love has no sexual orientation. Love has no religious belief. Love is the purest and most important thing we can possess for ourselves and for others.”

In conclusion, if you enjoy music that exhibits the flavors of many other genres, then this album is a perfect purchase for you. This album can be set on repeat and you won’t get sick of it. You’ll get into the groove time and time again, and you’re sure to notice something different each time it pumps out of your speakers.

Check out the Dance Apocalyptic video below:

{name} Author: Jessica Gold
Bio: Jessica Gold is a senior at the Pennsylvania State University. She is majoring in Print Journalism with double minors in African-American Studies and Sociology. Gold has a love for fashion, style and culture, and plans to work her way through the magazine industry after graduation. Her dream job is to become a writer/editor for Essence, but her ultimate goal is to create her own publication that incorporates multiculturalism in various arenas. She has hopes of achieving this by the time she is 30.

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