Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

The character of Mary pops up again in Sally Ride, a song named after the first American woman to go into space which draws parallels between her pioneering trip into space and the struggle for women’s rights (and possibly gay marriage) in America. Monáe implores Mary to “wake up”, telling her that she has the “right to choose” and dreaming of a journey to the moon “where there are no rules”. Dorothy Dandridge Eyes, referencing the first African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, is a sweet and breezy jazz-tinged number (with another feature, this time the jazz musician Esperanza Spalding) which finds Monáe rhapsodising about a girl who has “got Dorothy Dandridge eyes and you love her, you love that girl” (harking back to Electric Lady which observes that “once you see her face, her eyes you’ll remember and she’ll have you fallin’ harder than a Sunday in September”). The heavy hints of gay themes certainly lend weight to the otherwise confused and confusing sci-fi story and some of the songs here acquire real power when viewed through this prism. The gentle shuffling positivity of Victory, for example, takes on anthemic qualities with the promise that Monáe will “count your every kiss as a victory”.

This was quite an interesting review to write, as I sat down knowing what I was going to say and ended up writing something completely different. It was a pleasant surprise, though – I really enjoyed this one.

Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

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