Janelle Monae vs Grace Jones vs Prince

janelle monae

TWO LEGENDS AND A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.

I’D LEAVE IT AT THAT, THE SECOND AND THIRD NAMES ARE ENOUGH TO BRING TO MIND IMAGES AND SOUNDS OF UNDENIABLE IMPORT. THE FIRST NAME HAS BEEN LEADING THE WAY ON THE NEW FUNK AND POP SCENE FOR A WHILE NOW.

BUT IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY NOTHING. WE REMEMBERED PRINCE ON APRIL 21 AT THE TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF HIS DEATH; ON MAY 19 GRACE JONES TURNED 70, AND JANELLE MONAE FOLLOWS IN PRINCE’S FOOTSTEPS WITH VERVE AND RESPECT.

WHAT DO THESE THREE ARTISTS HAVE IN COMMON? JANELLE MONAE, THE NEW INTERNATIONAL POP PHENOMENON, IS THE CONNECTION THAT JOINS THE OTHER TWO. HER FRIENDSHIP AND COLLABORATION WITH PRINCE IS VERY WELL-KNOWN, AND IF YOU LISTEN TO THE YOUNG SINGER’S LATEST SONG YOU’LL NOTICE THE PRINCE OF MINNEAPOLIS’S INFLUENCE IN EVERY NOTE OF THE CHORUS. HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=TGRZZ0OQGUE

AND BEYOND WHAT YOU CAN NOTICE BY LISTENING, MONAE DID SEVERAL LIVE PERFORMANCES WITH PRINCE, WHO LOVED TO SURROUND HIMSELF WITH ARTISTS OF A CERTAIN CALIBER, AND ASKED FOR HELP FROM THE LORD OF POP & FUNK FOR THE CREATION OF HER LATEST ALBUM. TO PLAY LIVE WITH PRINCE AND BE SELECTED BY HIM AS A YOUNG PROMISE TO HELP OUT IS A PRECIOUS GIFT… IF PRINCE THINKS YOU’RE IMPORTANT, THE ROAD TO SUCCESS WON’T BE SO DIFFICULT!

PRINCE WAS A MULTIFACETED AND CONSUMMATE ARTIST: NOT JUST, OR NOT ONLY, THE PRINCE OF POP, AS MUCH AS PRINCE OF FUNK, FOLLOWING A LONG TRADITION OF ARTISTS GOING BACK TO THE UNDENIABLE STAR JAMES BROWN. THE PRINCE OF MINNEAPOLIS HAD REFINED TASTE AND AN ABILITY TO MIX DIFFERENT MUSICAL GENRES TO CREATE GEMS. I’M LEFT EVEN MORE ASTONISHED BY HIS TALENT WHEN LISTENING TO HIM LIVE. CHECK THIS OUT, IF YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT: HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=NAJ7OXBQYTW

IF HIS VOICE AND GIFTS AS A COMPOSER WEREN’T ENOUGH, HIS SKILL AS A GUITARIST AND TO HIS HYSTRIONIC, ENDLESSLY FASCINATING, MAKE HIM EVEN MORE MAGICAL. FOR SURE, LIKE MICHAEL JACKSON, GEORGE MICHAEL, AND WHITNEY HOUSTON BEFORE HIM, WE CAN SAY THAT IN RECENT TIMES INTERNATIONAL POP MUSIC HAS LOST ITS BEST AND BRIGHTEST.

I’M GUILTY OF HAVING DISCOVERED HIM LATE, PRECISELY BECAUSE I FOUND HIS FUNK STREAK LESS APPEALING IN MY YOUTH, I COULDN’T GIVE HIM THE APPRECIATION HE DESERVED. FORTUNATELY, WE GROW UP AND LEARN TO RECOGNIZE THE VALUE OF THINGS THAT ARE MORE SOPHISTICATED AND LESS COMMERCIAL. HIS WORK WAS TRULY DIVERSE AND DREW ON MANY DIFFERENT MUSICAL GENRES THAT DERIVE FROM AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE, WHICH HE WAS ALSO PART OF: FUNK, SOUL, R’N’B, AS WELL AS THE MOST CHARACTERISTIC OF WHITE CULTURE LIKE POP AND ROCK. THE MIXING OF MULTIPLE GENRES GAVE RISE TO AN ESPECIALLY ORIGINAL AND INDIVIDUAL STYLE THAT PRINCE DEVELOPED OVER MORE THAN TWO DECADES, ON MANY OCCASIONS SHOWING HIMSELF TO BE AN INNOVATOR AND PIONEER OF THE TIMES.

ON THE OTHER HAND, WE HAVE GRACE JONES: THERE’S PROBABLY NO OTHER INTERNATIONAL ARTIST AS TRANSFORMATIVE AND ECLECTIC! A MUSICAL LEGEND SINCE THE 70S, SHE RUBBED ELBOWS WITH THE GREATEST TALENTS IN THE MUSIC AND ART WORLD, WAS PART OF THE STUDIO 54 SCENE, IS AN LGBT ICON, WAS A REFINED SINGER AND A SKILLED ACTRESS. A WONDERFUL WOMAN, WITH A STRONGLY ANDROGENOUS BEAUTY THAT ENABLED HER TO BREAK INTO THE FASHION WORLD AND THEN TO BECOME A PROMINENT FIGURE IN SHOW BUSINESS.

SHE WASN’T AN ICON JUST BECAUSE OF HER APPEARANCE AND ATTITUDE, SHE HAD A FABULOUS VOICE, POWERFUL AND ELEGANT, AND HAD FIRST-RATE PERFORMATIVE ABILITY AS A SINGER. SHE DIDN’T PRODUCE A LARGE AMOUNT, WHICH IS A LITTLE DISAPPOINTING BECAUSE WITH A VOICE LIKE HERS SHE COULD HAVE DEFINITELY DONE MUCH MORE, ALTHOUGH PERHAPS IF SHE HAD SHE WOULD HAVE GONE INTO A SYSTEM THAT WOULD HAVE SUCKED HER IN AND TWISTED HER OUT, AND SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN RUINED LIKE SO MANY OTHERS. SHE WAS A TRUE OUTSIDER AND SO A TRENDSETTER, TOO.

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO FIND A RESEMBLANCE WITH JONES’S METHOD OF SELF-PRESENTATION, AND WHILE I’M SURE SOME WOULD ARGUE THAT ONE IS BETTER THAN THE OTHER, IT’S NOT MY JOB TO JUDGE, JUST TO NOTICE A COMMON THREAD, PERHAPS ONE THAT’S NOT EVEN INTENTIONAL.
SHE TOO HAS AN ELEGANT VOICE AND PUTS CARE INTO THE PERFORMANCE OF HER LYRICS. SHE’S FLIRTATIOUS, PROVOCATIVE, AND A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, DEFINITELY A NEW LGBT ICON. PRINCE HAD GREAT FORESIGHT, AS IS NO SURPRISE. LET’S HOPE SHE KEEPS IT UP AND KEEPS DEVELOPING HER WORK WITHIN QUALITY AND AVANT-GARDE MUSICAL PRODUCTION, JUST LIKE HER MENTOR AND TEACHER.

MONAE HAS A LONG WAY TO GO TO REACH JONES’S LEVEL, BUT SHE’S YOUNG AND FACED WITH A DIFFERENT SCENE WHICH IS MUCH MORE ADVENTUROUS AND OPEN TO NEW THINGS THAN THE ONE JONES WAS IN.

IT WAS PRINCE WHO INTRODUCED HER TO QUALITY MUSIC AND A CERTAIN DEGREE OF ELEGANCE IN PRODUCING TRACKS. WE EXPECT BIG THINGS FROM HER, HOPEFULLY SHE IS ABLE TO BRING TOGETHER THE QUALITY OF HER MUSIC WITH HER TRANSFORMISM AND THE STYLE OF WHAT HAS BECOME HER PERSONA.