Praise For Janelle Monáe, But Not Enough Buzz

Illustration for article titled Praise For Janelle Monáe, But Not Enough Buzz

Janelle Monae's album is getting great reviews, though she is still relatively under the radar. Seems like it's pretty hard being an actual artist these days.


As Seth Colter Walls gushes in a piece for Newsweek:

The Kansas-born, Atlanta-based R&B musician is a singing, dancing, and art-making machine… Monáe's voice-as fine a device as any in sci-fi when it comes to arguing for otherworldly intelligence-can make the hyperspace leap from its crooning, chanteuse register to the gritty exhalations required by funk… [She is] also doing something that tends to look impossible: making high art and pop talk to one another in a way that transcends gimmickry.


Monáe is cute and original, with a distinctive voice and musical style, but her album debuted at 17 on the Billboard charts — below the Glee soundtrack, Justin Bieber, LCD Soundsystem, the Iron Man 2 soundtrack and Carole King & James Taylor's live album. Meanwhile, Ke$ha — who is almost the same age as Monáe — earned dismal reviews from critics. And her album hit number one on the Billboard charts.

Why does buzz surround the trainwreckery of Ke$ha — from her Jack Daniels-swigging to her faux-rap to her Native American headdress — and not Janelle Monáe? Have we gotten used to showering attention (negative or otherwise) on bad girls who "act up" and exhibit bad behavior? Is real talent just not that interesting? Lord, let's hope not. Janelle Monáe's sound is infectious.

Pop Goes The Art House [Newsweek]

Earlier: Janelle Monae's Tux: Inspired By Marlene Dietrich
March's Teen Vogue Dishes Up Diversity With A Smile

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I love how folks decry Kesha for being a hack while elevating Lady CaCa to a higher standard that she is unworthy of.

I bring this up because BOTH are guilty of being overhyped due to white privilege while an actual artist of color like Ms. Monae (as opposed to the tired coochie-poppers that the industry only allows young black performers to be) is virtually ignored.