The video for Janelle Monaé’s “Cold War” debuted today on Pitchfork.tv and I couldn’t be more pleased. The video matches exactly, the raw emotion I felt the first time I listened to “Cold War”–a song that I perceive as being personally relevant to me–so closely that I now feel an even greater connection to the song than I ever did before. The video is exactly what it says–the first take, exactly as everyone in the studio experienced it while it was being filmed for the first time. It is unaltered and so beautifully simple that it may be the best music video I have seen all year.
Janelle Monaé is such a beautiful girl–she’s so refreshing! The video is well worth the watch and because I’ve been meaning to, I’ve finally reviewed her album The ArchAndroid. Read more for the review–or just listen to the album!
After watching this video twice–unearthing the same emotions I felt the first time I heard Janelle Monaé’s entire new album, and especially this song, I decided that there was no better time review it than now.
I won’t pretend to know just how much better than her past albums The ArchAndroid is, or exactly where it falls short, because this is the first album I’ve heard in its entirety from Janelle and the only thing I’ve heard of her prior the the release of The ArchAndroid is her duet with Chester French in the song “Nerd Girl”.
What I am, however, in the position to say about her album is that it’s produced to perfection–it places no limits on Hip Hop and R&B and it breaks all the barriers of convention surrounding that genre, making me feel sea foam blue, periwinkle, calypso pink, orange and all sorts of delicious colours while listening to the entirety of the album. It is an album that tries hard but doesn’t fall deficient because of the extra effort. It seeks to take you on a journey with metamorphosis or rebirth as the ultimate destination–it reminds me so much of my favourite book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but with a futuristic edge and no acid trip. “Suit II Overture” opens the album to a world of wonder, a world that greats you, takes you by the hand and asks you to dance like no one’s looking. After the seamless transition between “Dance or Die” ft. Saul Williams and “Faster”, an up-tempo Jazzy number, Janelle gives us a taste of her vocal abilities with sweet melodies in “Locked Inside”–a song that reminds me a lot of some of Michael Jackson’s earlier numbers.
It’s right before her first single, “Tightrope“, that Janelle hits you with a bit of reality with the emotive “Cold War”, the first song I felt inclined to instantly replay while listening to the album. I didn’t like “Cold War” as I had liked the tracks prior to it–I connected with it. The opening line: “So you think I’m alone, but being alone is only the way to be” is what made me know that this song was my favourite on an album I had only started listening to–because nothing beats a song with lyrics you feel like you could have written yourself, because they’re that personal. When Janelle shouted out on that track I shivered, and when she told me not to cry, I wanted it to.
But much like a comforting gesture, the tempo picks up with her Hip Hopping first single “Tightrope” ft. Big Boi, a song featuring some empowering lyrics and an authentic Hip Hop feel.
The album continues to take you on the wildest most vivid journey of soulful, new wave and Hip Hop rhythms an album will likely ever take you on. When you think the tempo is coming to a lull with tracks like “Oh, Maker,” others like “Come Alive,” one of my favourites–picks you right back up.
Equipped with an amazing vocal cast, including Saul Williams who’s mentor is Trent Reznor of NIN, Big Boi of Outkast who Co-Executively produced the album and dance-punk band Of Montreal among others, The ArchAndroid was inspired by the works of creative greats the likes of Salvador Dali, Walt Disney, David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Outkast and others. Besides the assortment of high quality muses, The ArchAndroid is an inspired work of art written all over the world and infused with the energy of locations like Prague, Berlin, Istanbul, New York and Amsterdam.
Janelle has evidently made an effort to be different and it’s exhilarating. There is nothing about her demeanor, or her craft that gives you the impression that she just doesn’t care, or that she didn’t have to try very hard to create something amazing–she cares, and it’s that attention to the details of her work that allows The ArchAndroid to be something worth talking about.
So if you haven’t already, enjoy the video above, and listen to her album–you probably won’t regret it.