An Ode to Ms. Janelle Monáe, The Electric Lady

Jm_theelectriclady_coverThis week, Janelle Monáe released her second full-length album, The Electric Lady, which serves as Suites 4 and 5 of her Metropolis concept series. The album has already seen two singles: “Q.U.E.E.N.” and “Dance Apocalyptic,” and being the hard worker that she is, Monáe has been all over the place throughout the summer, stopping by Letterman, The Today Show, and more to promote the new album…which is to say the least, one of the best albums of 2013.

With a little help from Prince (!), Erykah Badu, Solange, Miguel and Esperanza Spalding, Monáe has created one of the funkiest genre-bending albums since…well, her last album, 2010’s The ArchAndroid. She’s an artist that doesn’t like being defined, and if you tried, you’d surely fail. To pigeonhole her as strictly R&B would ignore her Rock, Soul, Funk, Jazz, Psychedelia and even sugary Reggae-Pop inclinations, all of which are sprinkled throughout her entire catalogue.

This post is going to venture into fanboy territory, but first, here are The Electric Lady’s highlights as I see ’em:

“Givin Em What They Love” features Prince, as if anyone would need any other reason to check this track out. This song is pure sex. If I ever hosted an orgy, this would totally be playing on loop in the fuck room. Monáe and Prince have produced a beautiful creation with this one and they should most definitely work together again in the future.

“Primetime” featuring Miguel is the kind of track that makes you love your lover that much more. It’s got that real 80’s, slow-dance jam vibe to it, with some real tangible emotion behind it. You can dub it over your favorite teen movie’s prom scene and it’d complement it perfectly. She’s clearly a student of the Purple Rain era.

“What An Experience” serves as the perfect closer, examining the good times of life and the memories we collect along the way. And a Reggae breakdown at the end? Yes, please. And thank you.

My wife and I became huge fans after seeing JM open for No Doubt in the summer of 2009. While at the Boston show, our friend Daniel Henry took this shot. Janelle was a rock star and jumped right onto us in the pit. Once she moved back a bit, he snapped this shot with a throwaway camera. We loved it so much that he blew it up and gave it to us as a wedding gift. She now hangs in our new home by the bar…The Electric Lady. The ultimate badass.

JanelleUnbeknownst to Dan, we had been planning a full-fledged opening to our wedding ceremony using the track “Violet Stars Happy Hunting” from the Metropolis: The Chase Suite EP. We hired break-dancers and let the song serve as our introduction to the crowd. (Apparently dry ice can be slippery on a dance floor…one of them slipped, but lived to tell another tale.) I think we confused people – some even questioned if our ceremony was legal – but we were determined to entertain, a lesson learned straight from JM, herself.

I told you this post would take a fanboy turn, but huge props and thanks to JM for her music and inspiration. She’s one of the best artists out today. She’s the real deal…an original.

Our ceremony is below. The Electric Lady is out now, with a special double-disc (4 bonus songs!) only available at Target. Check it. And big thanks to Daniel Henry for his print. You can check his work out at!