Record Club: Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid

It’s time to talk about Janelle Monáe‘s spellbinding, genre-bending “emotion picture”, The ArchAndroid.

If you’re a new reader and want to get involved, catch up now so we can call this motherf*cking record club to order!

So, What Did You Think?

Did you lock yourself in your bedroom and perfect ‘the tightrope’? Yeah I know you did. I’ll tell you what I thought. My number one feeling about The ArchAndroid is that it’s 70 minutes long. That’s a lot to take in, right? Particularly if your formative years involved way too much punk music, MAD & MTV. 70 minutes is a goddamn lifetime.

Janelle Monáe intended for this record to be an “emotion picture”, something to be consumed from start to finish, like a movie. But the moment I realized that the record was split into two parts – Suite II & Suite III – this idea became far less daunting. If you approached this album in halves like I did, which end of the record did you prefer?

Suite II is no doubt the crowd favorite, a full-on assault of kicks, hooks and hits that have been designed to make you soar. Suite III, on the other hand, was made up of far softer, more experimental sounds. Once Suite II lifted me up and up, Suite II did such a perfect job of bringing me back down. And I think that’s exactly what she wanted. Clever, huh.

I won’t say too much more about what this album sounds like – if you’ve read this far then you’ve probably already heard it. And if you haven’t, Pitchfork can fill you in.

The ArchAndroid immediately dazzles you with its ambition. It’s a 70-minute, 18-track epic telling a futuristic story starring a messianic android. The songs zip gleefully from genre to genre, mostly grounded in R&B and funk, but spinning out into rap, pastoral British folk, psychedelic rock, disco, cabaret, cinematic scores, and whatever else strikes her fancy.

This Is A Story About A Robot. Isn’t It?

Let’s talk  about the concept, this futuristic story starring a messianic android. Who heard it in the music? I didn’t. Short of the occasional shout out to a cyborg or android, for me the story didn’t cut through. I suspect it’s largely because I haven’t yet heard the beginning of the saga, Metropolis – Suite 1. So rather than embark on a research intensive hunt for Monáe’s robotic messiah, I decided to blindly accept its existence and move on, there was no time to dig for the little nuances. But if you have heard Metropolis, I hope you’ll share a little about how The ArchAndroid stands up as a continuation.

What I admire most about The ArchAndroid is the amount of ambition and bravery behind it. Not only is a complete genref*ck, she’s taken every idea we’ve had about what popular music and popular female artists should be and smashed it to pieces – apologetically. It’s not that she’s without influences, some of you may have noticed she’s tipping her hat to those visionaries before her – Andre 3000, Big Boi, Gnarls Barkley and more. Like them, Monáe hasn’t just tinkered with a few new sounds. What we she gave us was a no holds barred expression of her individual style with seemingly (thankfully?) no regard for what her peers were doing. She took huge risks, and according the critics and fans, they led to huge rewards. Just not ones that reflect on the Billboard charts.

Dress & Mainstream Success

Some of the more interesting conversations I’ve heard regarding Monáe’s lack of chart success was started by Jezebel, who posed the question, is real talent just not that interesting? A quick scan of Billboard today says it isn’t so. Hasn’t it always been this way? Or are we just starting to hold music consumers to a higher standard now? We should. The world’s far more interconnected now, digital devices and connection to the internet give us exposure to more music than ever before. There are no fools anymore, we’re all fully accountable for we choose to consume and support. But I digress.

Another popular theory for Monáe’s lack of success is her image, her androgynous tuxedo-sporting ways that we love so much. She doesn’t just sound different, she looks different – and if you don’t like it, she’s not afraid to call you out for it. Just see Music Nerdery’s piece about the stylish b&w remix video of ‘Tightrope’ [“People sayin’ why don’t she change her clothes? Well they ain’t seen the last 3 times I’ve posed in Vogue.”]

And while this record does indeed play out like an extended theatrical experience, every single song stands up on its own. Well, almost every single song. I still don’t know what to make of ‘Neon Gumbo’. I have a strong appreciation for the lead single, ‘Tightrope’ (ft. Big Boi). Alex does too. But for me, ‘Locked Inside’ and ‘Oh Maker’ were the real heroes on the album. What were your favorite tracks?

My overall feeling about this artist is the exact the same as this website expressed back in April. Janelle Monáe is the future. And come December, I think The ArchAndroid is going to be a very strong contender for Record of the Year.

But enough about my feelings. Let’s finish this conversation in the comments section. To get you in the mood, watch Monáe do the Tightrope. The Vine calls this live performance a kick-ass, life-affirming and truly career-defining four minutes, and I couldn’t agree more.


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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. OH my god, I LOVE this album! There are only two songs that I don’t like (“Come Alive” and “Make the Bus”) but ohhh, the rest of the album is fabulous! I love that she has experimented with so many styles and managed to fit them all on one record. My personal favorites are “Sir Greendown” and “Say You’ll Go.” Those are absolutely beautiful! I like to get lost in those songs. When I need something upbeat and equally awesome, I play “Dance or Die” “Faster” and “Locked Inside” in order. They mesh together wonderfully. Okay, I am going to stop gushing about this album. I am so happy that ya’ll are bringin attention to it!

    • “Sir Greendown” was one of my favourite tracks too – it reminds me so much of the 1930s classic jazz and blues records that my grandmother played when I was a child. I think our appreciation of this track places us in the minority, but that’s fine.

      • Yea, I think we are in the minority! Also, I double posted because I thought I deleted my first comment (you can see my second, slighlty longer comment below.) I love the album so much that I had to post again because I thought I deleted the first one! True Love right here : )

  2. I LOVED this album but I think only a few songs really stand alone (eg Tightrope, Cold War, Come Alive and Sir Greendown) I think it works best when listened to in sequence, you can tell it is a story (although I didn’t pick up on the android thing) and the science fiction theme comes through – which I really liked because a couple of the songs reminded me of Inspector Gadget…

    Tightrope is catchy and dancey which I instinctively like and it stands out on the album. I don’t think it’s the best one but it is a good choice for the first single as out of all of them it does have a more mainstream sound, and who couldn’t like it after watching that video?!

    I also really liked Oh Maker, but I didn’t like Locked Inside very much.

    • I wasn’t hugely impressed with “Locked Inside” in the beginning – my first impression was that it was one of the less exciting tracks on the record. But then something changed a week or two in, I started noticing that the song’s tempo & groove, the way it really swings, would pick me up. It’s mood altering.

      • Yea I often find the songs I like least at first turn out to be my absolute favorites, if I listen to the album a few more times I expect my opinions about it will completely reverse.

  3. Oh yay. I have been addicted to this album for for the last week and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the listening surface yet. Is that a phrase. I am making it one.

    I think the record is structured sort of like a symphony where each movement flows into the next and I’m finding that I’m drawn more to certain parts of songs over others (rather than entire songs) so it’s a difficult thing to describe favourites. Maybe “Faster”? Such a perfect song.

    I also haven’t heard another album that stands up as way more than a sum of it’s parts in a long time. There are a couple of songs that fit perfectly into the narrative, but are kind of weak heard alone. (Sir Greendown being one).

    Little snatches of the lyrics have been swimming around in my head the last few days. Like CONSTANTLY. I woke up singing “La da die da die da die da die” this morning.

    “BaBopBye Ya
    Danger on the bayou
    BaBopBye Ya
    I can’t leave without you”

    “This is a cold war, you better know what you’re fighting for”

    And, most hilariously:
    “Take her back to wonderland, she thinks she left her underpants”.


    • We’ll make ‘scratching the listening surface’ a phrase. Effective immediately. Bam.

      I hear you, that line from “Cold War” has been stuck in my head for the last three weeks.

  4. We have to examine the lack of her chart success in regards to Lady Gaga and her takeover of the music world. I think that dressing different isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it worked for GAGA. But I don’t know I just love her style. I think mainstream music has been dumbed down to sell more. Even Jay-Z admitted his lyrics aren’t at the higher caliber he’s capable of and it’s sad. I think that Monae is the future. Some of my friends have said it was the kiss of death to sign with P. Diddy, but I don’t think so. Just look at Mary J. Blige….

    As for my favorite track: I can’t pick one because I love them all. I love how eclectic her album is and just the awesome range of styles. Janelle Monae is the future.

    • I’m not sure that Monae’s chart performance can be compared with Gaga’s. Both ladies are known for their unique styles and artistic performances, but that’s where the similarities end. Dressing differently worked in Gaga’s favour, she made us sit up and take notice. But while she presents herself in a very unique way, we can’t forget that she still plays a very popular style of music. Monae not so much.

      I hope Jay-Z wasn’t referring to ’99 Problems’ when he was berating his own lyrics. That song is poetry.

  5. I’ve listened to this album many times through already, but mostly while in the car, so I couldn’t really pay every track the attention that it deserves. You definitely get that it is some sort of otherworldly story though, even if you can’t quite place what is going on.

    I love Tightrope, obvs, but I also really love Dance or Die, Faster, Cold War, Come Alive and Wondaland. I think that the first chunk of the album from Dance or Die to Tightrope would be stronger/better without Sir Greendown, though. It’s not a bad song, it just doesn’t fit the energy progression of the other 5 tracks it’s nested between. I understand the pulling back a little before hitting the climax/crescendo (like the mix tape rules of High Fidelity!) but I think it’s too much.

    I’m sort of kicking myself that Metropolis: The Chase Suite is still sitting in my Amazon cart, I’d love to listen to the whole deal from beginning to end. I’m a big sucker for theatre/opera/etc. so an album that runs one song seamlessly into the next in the fashion of a symphony automatically piques my interest.

    And the track with Of Montreal, Make the Bus, makes me excited for their tour together. So much potential for amazing and weird there.

    Also, I think her live performances and videos and such show that she understands that in this digital age of instant downloads, you need do bring it (like Gaga, Pink, etc.) to draw people in, get them to your shows, etc.

    • I am also sorry that I didn’t listen to Metropolis and experience this story from beginning to end. My gut feeling was that The ArchAndroid would be hard enough to absorb without having to consider the record that came before it. Metropolis is definitely on my shopping list for pay day.

      You get points for the High Fidelity reference.

  6. Random reactions:
    Listening to the album in its entirety and being taken on a journey is exhilarating.
    I can’t stop thinking of the musical and creative energy of the British Two Tone ska movement of the late 70s.
    The sheer number of musical references reveals a deep true love of music, which reminds me of my love for music, which results in a feeling of irrepressible optimism! I can always use more of that, what the heck.
    She’s positioning herself as a member of a creative group of people: the Wondaland Arts Society, which is a refreshing change from pop personalities who, for commercial purposes, just sell themselves as the product.
    Her band is Fabulous.

    • Her band IS fabulous, they sound so tight! I’ve been watching that Letterman performance over and over and now I really want to see them live.

  7. first: which record nowadays is 70 min. long and has 18 tracks? thats extraordinary! And extraordinary is remarkable!

    these days, everyone in the business think about making fast money. the music has to be suitable for the mass, so everyone will buy it. no space for the extraordinary! B U T if there is one to take the risk to do the unexpected, there are people outside to appreciate this. who look for the out of the ordinary. and it will be rewarded. believe me! I‘m pretty sure about that.I dont think its to outlandish; extraordinary things needs out of the box thinking. hope her record company has some ideas like that.

    since the internet the obsessed music people around the world are not longer depend on their radio stations, tvs or press in their country. and not since websides like this and doing a music club, everyone who is interested in good music has a different view of music and its gonna be a challenge to discover new music, to discover the unexpected and to present this new music to friends. no joke: I know a friend, who has every month a get together with the neighbours and they play the new discovered music to each other. but I get off the point: sorry!

    back to JM: I never heard from her before so thank you crystal to choose this record to discuss. Tightrope is not my favorite track from this record. Cold War and Faster, and Come Alive are my favorites! But Tightrope is a good first single with the name Big Boi in it, so everyone can get attention of Janelle and will discover what a visionary artist she is. And I think this different genres is the secret of this record. the interesting secret of this record. it is the unique sound and of course Janelle is good eyecandy and the mix of both is the secret of the success of this record. this is my opinion and I would totally agree with Ur fakt: she is visionary, innovative & breaking boundaries. And what I saw from youtube, from the live appearances, she rocks on stage! Im pretty sure the success is hers.

  8. re: the concept

    “I decided to blindly accept its existence and move on, there was no time to dig for the little nuances.”

    I agree completely. I was a lot more aware of the concept’s existence throughout ‘Metropolis’, and I think that’s mainly because: 1) it’s more explicit (the opening track basically spells it out) and, more important, 2) it’s 17 minutes short. Keeping the concept in mind throughout 70 minutes (The Length was one of my first feelings as well) is just a little too much for me. So, with ‘ArchAndroid’ I usually think about it only during certain songs (e.g. “Oh, Maker” and ‘57821’) or during the occasional shout outs (“You’ve got “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” under your pillow” was a nice one). And I am fine with that.

    re: favorite tracks

    Standout shower track: ‘Come Alive (The War Of The Roses)’- because I like to pretend I know how to sing some sections of it while I should be pretending that I know how to clean some sections of myself [Awful joke. True story.]

    Standout track overall: ‘Oh, Maker’- it’s the song I’ve listened to the most, mainly because the lyrics mention: SYNESTHESIA, lost love, rain, a ‘maker’, hoping to see someone again, and The Flopping Bitter End Of All The Flipping Beauty That We’re Living In. I’m an atheist-agnostic-asswipe (in that order, plz) but that song gets me all spiritual and, therefore, a little frazzled. I mean: “Oh, Maker tell me did you know this love would burn so yellow?” and “we suffered a rare, rare blue”. Frazzled I tell you. I like everything about this song. And I enjoy ‘Neon Gumbo’, actually; I always listen to it and let it take me to ‘Oh, Maker’ because I find it effectively preps me for that profound spiritual journey [I’m half-joking, so I’m only 1/2 as obnoxious as I may ‘come off’].

    Standout danceable track: ‘Faster’- I do enjoy perfecting “the tightrope”, but ‘Faster’ appreciates it the most when I aggressively dance to it. I also like dancing to ‘Oh, Maker’, but it’s a more interpretative kind of dance, so it can get pretty gloomy for the numerous clubes I attend every noche [don’t let my flawless code-switching get you all envious, gente].

    re: wepa enjoying the album very, very much and being glad its maker is (at least a part of) the future

    I enjoy ‘ArchAndroid’ very, very much and I’m glad Monáe is, at least in part, the future.

    • ‘Oh Maker’ touched the atheist-agnostic-asswipe in me, too. Beautiful, uplifting track.

      Also I’m so glad that I wasn’t the only one who struggled with the length of this album. I still haven’t heard Metropolis, but the 17 minute duration is very attractive.

      • I suppose that is helped by the fact that there is an actual, literal maker that Cindy Mayweather is talking to in that song…

  9. First off anyone who hasn’t listened to Metropolis (Suite I) MUST, it is excellent. You can see the short film for Many Moons at youtube, it is pretty damn gorgeous and may help contextualise ArchAndroid for you. It only has five tracks and three of them are as good as anything on ArchAndroid (Violet Stars Happy Hunting!, Many Moons, and Sincerely Jane). Highly highly recommended.

    ArchAndroid as a continuation – the scope of ArchAndroid is so different, nearly four times as many songs as on Metropolis. It’s like hearing a few good songs by someone and then checking out their album – you’re relieved if the rest of it holds up! And I think it does, but musically they have some differences, IMO. ArchAndroid has more melodrama, is more operatic in tone (except Tightrope, which I think is the most conventional of all, but I s’pose if that sells some albums I don’t care!) The story is definitely much more clear and explicit on Suite I – it’s like Suite I is the exposition and Suites II and III are the development, but there isn’t a hell of a lot of recapitulation.

    I think more songs stand alone than most of us are giving credit for. If you’re a lyric addict, maybe Dance or Die doesn’t stand alone, but if you just want to jump around for 2min on a Friday night, sure, why not? Ditto Faster. Yeah, they work wonderfully as part of the Suite, but it’s not necessary.

    Like others, Come Alive is probably my favourite track, but I also really like Dance or Die and BaBopByeYa. I liked Oh, Maker, but I probably would have liked it more on a different album! I found it so unexpected.

  10. I haven’t listened to the whole album yet but I love it already because there’s a song that features Saul Williams, and I love Saul Williams.

  11. Clearly I need to buy her first album because I LOVE this one! There are only two songs that I do not like “Come Alive” and “Make the Bus”) but the rest I like a lot! Songs 2 through 4 are really strong as a sequence. I mostly feel that I cannot listen to “Dance or Die,” “Faster” or “Locked inside without listening to the other two in order!

    “Sir Greendown” and “Say You’ll Go” win me over as my dreamy, slow-er favorites. I feel like I am in another world when listening to “Sir Greendown.” Maybe it is because it is so sweet, soft and romantic?

    I am so happy ya’ll created a post about this album! It is SO SO good! Okay, I will stop gushing now : D

  12. Love this convo!

    First of all this album is amazing. From top to bottom. Anyone and everyone MUST get Metropolis the chase suite 1 into their lives. It definitely helps you get the whole story of Cindy, Anthony Greendown and the ArchAndroid. It’s simply out of this world. I love how the story cascades throughout all of these suites, really painting a picture. It’s truly fitting that they say this is an emotion picture. Have you all seen her in concert. I seriously lost my sh*t. Homegirl is BAD. I mean…it’s crazy how good they all are. Her band is so captivating and still so fun. It’s the kind of fun and good music I can bring my whole family to. I LOVE that. Long live Janelle Monae, Metropolis and the entire Wondaland fam…they’re dope.

  13. Dope Dope Album! Everyone needs this in their life. Saw her live recently in Connecticut and it was pure magic. She threw water on me from the stage. L-O-V-E.

  14. OK, I’m cutting and pasting this from when I jumped the gun and responded to your initial kick-off article. Must learn to pace self:

    Been listening to this album for a couple of months or so now and am so glad it was chosen for the inaugural edition of Audiostraddle. It’s a fantastic and really diverse listen.

    I was introduced to Janelle Monae via the queer blogosphere, which, in retrospect, doesn’t surprise me all that much. It was the queer scene that first really embraced Lady Gaga, for instance, and it’s probably no coincidence that people are already drawing parallels between the two.

    Thing is, JM is definitely her own creature. Whereas I definitely think Gaga has opened the door for future mainstream success by more avant-garde artists like JM, her act is very different.

    What I love about JM is her dedication to androgyny and, frankly, songs that make you wanna bust a serious move. And none of it feels manufactured or put on – it feels very much like JM doing what’s natural. And that sense of realness can go a long way toward making an artist more appealing.

    Crystal, you asked, “Is this album and artist too outlandish for commercial success? Is there such a thing?”

    Like I said before, I think Gaga’s success has the potential to really open up the mainstream to far more in the way queer sensibility and underground performance art – but that’s more in terms of image and not music. And it may, unfortunately, not yet extend to women of color. Which is some serious bull, but we’d be pretty ignorant to claim that women of color don’t have a mountain of extra stereotypes and stigmas working against them that blonde, white women like Gaga just don’t.

    So an (albeit beautiful) androgynous black woman who wears tuxedos, dances like James Brown, and sings like her very soul is on fire? Still sadly more difficult for the mainstream to comfortably digest.

    I hope JM is able to break through all of that – and if anyone should, it’s absolutely her – and I hope the general public surprises me. But regardless of the end result, the fact that all the critical and underground praise in the world hasn’t broken her yet points to those terrible barriers still being in place.

    My two cents, anyway.

    And yes, she looks smokin’ hot in those tuxedos.

    • w/r/t the potential for her to be successful with the mainstream, i wonder if her PR people are trying too hard to keep her out of the queer box. for example, we haven’t been able to get an interview with her and have been trying for months, which could be ’cause we’re not big enough, but though i’ve seen her talked about all over the queer web, i haven’t seen her interviewed by any gay press or feminist press (though we’ve all done really good write-ups on her), it’s mostly been mainstream and hip-hop music publications where she’s been featured. lady gaga thanks the gays a lot — maybe it’s ’cause they have been really good to her w/r/t press and she’s seen that outreach pay off, you know? like, embrace your niche, JM! It’s got nothing to do with her I’m sure, it’s her press people. Anyhow I could be totally off-base on this, just an idea.

      Also i love the album and Tightrope is stuck in my head.

    • ‘Oh, Maker’ is very j-worthy. I’m not trying to one-up you just to needlessly fabricate “conflict” or anything (ok, I am), but it made me j in my Soul.

      Souls are a lot harder to wash out, by the way.


  15. great write up about the album! i need to revisit it so i can crystallize (see what i did there?) my impressions/refresh my memory. i like thinking of monae part of the musical trajectory set up by david bowie (a la major tom). all around, i’m a sucker for a concept album, even if the concept is kind of loose so far.

    • That’s what you do.

      I’m a sucker for a concept album too, particularly if it’s created by Green Day.

  16. I liked the album, but I’m not totally convinced that she is as ground-breaking as people are saying.

    I think Janelle Monae creativity stems from her, the artist: not her producers, not the mastermind behind Janelle Monae. HER. And I think this is part of what is attracting attention because so many other female singers are at the mercy of their record label puppeteers. So… she definitely stands out. But I’m not sure this is enough to win me over. That said, I love “Cold War.”

    Also, her image. I don’t really find her tuxedo/pants style that alternative, but I do think it affects how we interpret her music. I personally feel like it sets her apart from the more mainstream artists, whereas her music doesn’t necessarily set her apart when consumed “blindly.” Does that make sense? I’m not comparing her to Britney Spears at all, but if Britney Spears never made a music video, would she have been able to continue selling music without her image? Who knows. Music + tuxedo + ____ is part of Janelle Monae’s formula.

    Anyways. Great post, Crystal!

    • I understand what you’re saying with regard to JM’s style affecting the way we interpret her music. It’s possible. Personally I like to think that if I listened to this album blind then I’d enjoy it as much as I do now. But I can’t say that with 100% certainty.

      I think her style definitely impacts awareness, our initial drive to hear her out. People send me albums/singles/music videos every day, and I only listen to about 50% of them. When the ArchAndroid album showed up, there’s no doubt that my decision to listen to it was driven by my curiosity in her style. If I didn’t have that curiosity then maybe it’s possible this record would have wound up in the stack of unheard CDs collecting dust on my desk.

  17. I like a lot of the songs, but I don’t love the album. I really don’t have the attention span to listen to a 70 minute long album and actually listen to the entire thing and not just have it as background noise. And I had no clue about the whole messianic android thing until I read about it on io9.

    But, I absolutely love Tightrope and Cold War

  18. I’m seeing her at Outside Lands in a few weeks and I HOPE SHE DANCES A LOT. Her feet put me in a trance. When they’re moving I mean. Actually they probably would put me in a trance even if they weren’t moving.

  19. The album is super interesting, and I’m loving the tuxedo like woah! However, for me, the genre-hopping makes it a tad difficult to listen to straight through (gay through).
    Two thoughts:
    Her vocals on ‘Come Alive’ are the perfect kind of crazy.
    And I love the collaboration with Of Montreal on ‘Make the Bus.’ I’d love hear what come up with when touring together this fall.

  20. I’ve had ‘The ArchAndroid’ since it was featured on Feministing and I’ve been in love with it. It isn’t too often that you find an album that crosses the genre boundaries so much that it doesn’t even have a sub/mix genre (i.e. Afro Pop, Electric Funk, Synth Rock, etc.). Her mix of R&B, pop, classical, jazz, and even experimental rock makes this album always interesting. I never felt a lull or a dull moment.

    I definitely prefer Suite II, but some of my favorite moments on the album are “Tightrope”, “Neon Gumbo”, Oh, Maker”, “Cold War”, and “Wondaland”. I know a lot of people aren’t too keen on “Neon Gumbo”, but I’m a huge Radiohead enthusiast, and “Gumbo” reminds me a little of their experimental lull in “Nude” and some of their more laid back tracks off of ‘In Rainbows’.

    My favorite part of this album is its spirit, its youthful abandon. I haven’t done a lot of lyric research on the songs, but the sounds make me feel like a kid, or at the very least, a self-absorbed teenager again. The way one song makes you want to dance, and the next makes you want to ponder…it builds angst and releases it. The lack of stylistic focus make an album that, instead of being contradictory, is actually refreshing, while the thematic lyrical elements serve to unite the album into a work.

    Basically, contemporary program music is awesome.

  21. See, I’m surprised people (out on the vast internet) didn’t like ‘Make the Bus’ – I love it. Though to be fair, I pretty much love this whole album, start to finish. I’m a big fan of the Album as a thing – as opposed to well crafted singles, I like to be taken away transported for an hour or two and feel like I’ve really journeyed..

    ‘Oh Maker’ is one of my faves, I’ve listened to Tightrope a gazillion times anyway and was glad to see that it wasn’t just a highlight from the album but a good representation of the high quality of the thing as a whole.

    • I like Make the Bus a lot, too, but my problem with it is that it really doesn’t seem to fit the style of the rest of the album. (Which is weird to say because the album’s really stylistically diverse, but… you know.)

  22. as another whole album listener i love all of it. sure i wouldn’t choose listen to ‘neon gumbo’ by itself but i think it provides that perfect transition between ‘tightrope’ and ‘oh maker’. mainly i listen for hooks either rhythmic or melodic, and every single track has something, not even counting the extreme range of styles where lady gaga can’t even begin to compete.

    i’m a big of montreal fan so i like ‘make the bus’ because it could pretty much be a ‘hissing fauna..’ b-side. that being said i wouldn’t have picked any janelle monae on it if it weren’t on her album. but my fave tracks are probably ‘babopbyeya’ and ‘dance or die’, so smooth in such different ways.

    overall i love the variety of styles, the references, plus her vocal versatility! man. what i want to know though is how much does her production contribute? or does she solely have so many amazing ideas?

    • That’s a really good question about how much she is influenced by her production team. Does anyone else know?

  23. It’s bedtime now and I don’t have time to make extensive comments, but I will say that I have listened to both this album and Metropolis, and the storytelling aspect is not terribly strong in either – less so in The ArchAndroid, though.

    • Moar feelings:

      – I think Suite II is more cohesive than Suite III, but some of my favorite songs are in the back half (Say You’ll Go, Wondaland, Babopbyeya).
      – I feel like The Archandroid is more of a concept album than a rock opera, which is probably why I find the storytelling aspect so weak.
      – I’m sure you’ve all worked out that Neon Gumbo is the last part of Many Moons backwards, but I just thought I’d say it and make myself feel clever.
      – Standout track for me would have to be Wondaland. There’s a moment where the music stops and she takes a small breath… that moment is perfection to me.
      – There was a dance to Tightrope on So You Think You Can Dance last week, so it looks like it’s getting at least some attention in the mainstream. And SYTYCD’s audience is a very young crowd!

  24. I think it is an excellent album – not only musically, but sonicly, emotionally and lyricaly. My highlights are the outro of ‘OH Maker’..”Lost inside a lonely world where no-one pays the price”. I also think she is trying to tell us what is going on in the world. In ‘Locked inside’ there are lyrics are “The writers and the artists, all are paid to tell us lies. To keep us locked inside, they keep us locked inside” I believe is what is going on. Another highlight is Say you’ll go. I love this album and will never tire of it!!

  25. She reminds me of Micheal Jackson. Can anyone else see a resemblance? Even a miniscule type of resemblance?

  26. She’s awesome. It’s like her feet don’t stop moving any time she sings and her voice – blooming marvellous hehe I sound so very British. The album’s fresh and very creative- exactly what we need :)

  27. You guys – Janelle played a free concert at my school this past weekend. All I can say is that she puts on an AMAZING show. I didn’t really expect to see that many people there, but it was packed and the audience was the most diverse I’ve ever seen at any concert performed on FSU campus before…

  28. Look at me. Im some Sotho guy from South Africa and nobody understands why i love this album, and madlib, and slum village_all at the same time….i think its reminiscent of Andre3000’s The Love Below_i certainly havent heard nothing as brilliant since that album_my opinion ofcourse

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