Last night’s BET Awards closed with a performance from Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu, after Mariah Carey maybe-lip-synced into her bedazzled mic. If you’re not aware of Janelle Monae, you should go flip open a dictionary to the word “cool.” I’m pretty sure you’ll see her picture there waiting for you. Even if you don’t know her music, you might recognize her as the girl who wears those fabulous tuxedos and whose pompadour hairstyle always looks immaculate. That was certainly how I first discovered her. Then I saw her amazing video for the song “Tightrope” (which was nominated for a Grammy) and became obsessed with her music. Since everyone’s buzzing about her performance, we thought it would be fun to share 5 facts you may or may not know about Janelle, who was born Janelle Monae Robinson. You can thank us later.
1. Her music and persona are influenced by science fiction.
She might dress like a 1950s crooner, but one of her biggest artistic influences is sci-fi. Janelle told New York Magazine that she her first album was inspired by sci-fi cinema like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and literature like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Her video for “Tightrope” also features references to surrealist filmmaker Maya Deren. Janelle has said that her android alter-ego is named Cindi Mayweather. A little unconventional? Definitely. But she’s got plenty of talent to back it up.
2. Her emotional “Cold War” video is one long take.
One of Janelle’s best songs is “Cold War,” and while other videos of hers feature flashy production value and lots of dancing, she chose to go a more intimate route for this one. The video is all one take, and the emotion of the song brought Janelle to tears, which you can see in the video. She told Rap-Up.com she wasn’t expecting it.
“I remember crying during ‘Cold War’ [on the] first take,” she said. “I didn’t know how that happened but it just did. I was very moved by that. It was really a special moment; then everybody else started to cry.”
3. She was featured on fun.’s “We Are Young,” aka the song you couldn’t stop singing in the shower last year.
You’ve probably heard this song approximately 10 million times since its release, and you may or may not be sick of it. But did you know Janelle is a featured performer on the track? Listen for her voice the next time you hear it playing at the mall.
4. She’s a CoverGirl!
Janelle brings her unique fashion and beauty style to magazine ads (see a shot from her campaign below) and TV commercials for the cosmetics brand. I personally would love to look even a little bit as fabulous as she does, so I can’t think of anyone better to sell me beauty products.
5. Her second album comes out this September.
So far Janelle has released an unofficial album called The Audition, an EP called Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), and a first official album called The ArchAndroid (which she recorded under Diddy’s label Bad Boy Records). Now she’s planning to release her second official album called The Electric Lady on September 10, 2013. The album’s first single “Q.U.E.E.N.” is a collaboration with fellow cool girl Erykah Badu, and it’s just as awesome as her earlier tracks.
And did I mention she’s only 27 years old? Now that you know a little bit more about Janelle, check out her energetic BET Awards performance of “Q.U.E.E.N.” below, complete with some Janelle doppelgangers dancing in the aisles and of course a cameo from a poodle. What else?
(Photo: WMTV, PacificCoastNews.com)