Two Octobers ago, Roger shot a portrait of a woman whose smile and style made me do a double take. She was just... dapper. (A woman with a pompadour tends to be.) So I googled Janelle Monáe and found Many Moons; it was easy to fall in love with her look, voice, and endearing weirdness.
Last summer, I interviewed her, and that made me an even bigger admirer. She was soft-spoken, confident, positive, thoughtful, and s-m-a-r-t. (What's not to love about a woman who gets excited when talking about German expressionist film?) To misquote Born Against quoting Ben Weasel: Janelle is awfully bright for a fresh girl of 24.
Meg and I caught Janelle on Monday; it was her second night in San Francisco, and the show was sold out. I expected it to be good, but she put on one of the best performances I've seen in years. She was five feet of unbridled energy, bouncing around the stage while throwing all of herself into every measure of every song. ("She's like a tiny girl version of James Brown," Meg said.) And despite her nonstop dancing, her voice was smooth and buttery on every note. I was glad that I'd remembered my earplugs (old) because at one point, the band got "You Made Me Realise"-style loud, and even with the plugs I had ringing ears afterward. But it was worth it.
Here are two tunes from the record coming out in May, but honestly, you need to see the live show to see why I'm so fangirly about her. Anyway: Cold War and Tightrope. Now you know.