Janelle Monae falls off her tightrope

Larry Ryan
  • By
  • Arts
  • Last updated: Tuesday, 10 August 2010 at 11:41 am

Janelle Monae has received admiring glances from all sides for her boho-futurist sound, style and general outlook (listen to an example of such praise here). Basically, she seems like quite a cool person, and her music’s pretty good too. “Tightrope”, the opening single from her acclaimed new record The ArchAndroid has made a strong bid for the year’s best song (though, “ATL” mentor/friend and “Tighrope” collaborator Big Boi will run her close with his own “Shutterbug”).

Last week she got further plaudits for the video for her new single “Cold War”. The song is quite good (though it’s no “Tightrope”) and the video is nice too – shot in a single take with Monae’s face on a dark background, it’s essentially an update on Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” (including the tear), but with more BPM and higher definition. Watch it below…

So far so good. And then she goes and spoils it all by Tweeting (@janellemonae) something like, “When I shot “cold war” i started to feel an uncontrollable emotion take over. Felt like I was crying for so many… Indescribable.”

She didn’t stop there, following this statement with, “It touches me to know that the vulnerable moment I experienced on camera (re: “cold war” 1st take) has also moved u. You feel something”

And, “We r 1. U r not alone.”

Ok, call me cynical – my mother said I was too cynical for my age when I was 12 – but this will not do. Two of my colleagues shared my disappointment at Janelle’s dispiriting turn towards the earnest. In fact, earnest is too polite a word for it: a hideously lame display of bogus pyschobabble. That will do. From one so previously poised, so interesting and adventurous. Oh Janelle: say it ain’t so.

But that wasn’t the end of it. “I’ll retweet some of your reactions (re: “cold war” emotion picture),” she wrote “in hopes that we meet and connect with one another.”


Here are some examples of the reactions Janelle retweeted:

@spacefroot @JanelleMonae felt like you were me . like i was looking in the mirror…. just WOW thank u for that <3

@chrispulaski @JanelleMonae watching was like feeling all emotions at once; happiness from understanding, sadness from the wounds, hope for the healing

@Barbie_Bentonn @JanelleMonae i felt like all the pain , fear , hurt i had inside you let out in your words & tears . iloveyou so much

@lilbaldlady @JanelleMonae I feel human again. I hold back my emotions becuz of fear that someone can take advantage of my (cont)

It was like some horrible combination of Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”, a Kate Winslet Oscar acceptance speech and every word uttered on Oprah’s coach, with a side salad of Dr Phil.

I fear we will never be able to consider Janelle Monae in the same way again.

In a desperate attempt to bring things back down to earth, I tweeted my own sarcastic response to the video:

@JanelleMonae I felt sad.Then happy that U could MAKE ME sad.Happiness & Sadinees are important.We are blessed.PS: glad the Cold War is over

She did not retweet my reaction.

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  • Violet King

    I don’t think you understand what the song is about, or what she was talking about at all, which is why you would even write about this.

  • Erik Chowbay

    So, because she wants to connect with her fans, and has succeeded in doing that, there is a problem.. Right

    This very article is a great example of Psychobabble at its finest..

    With this very article, you have summed up the one of the many reason why Janelle Monae made the Cold War video.. And why it contains the content it does..

    You can never get to high or to low.. Never to high from the praise, or to low from the critiques and criticisms..

    I hope all Janelle Monae supporters, will do what I did.. Tip on the Tightrope!! And tip on Larry Ryan lol.. Stay Balanced People


    This article is a complete mess. I feel as if you hate how myself and other Janelle’s supporters can relate to the video, the song and it’s powerful message. Artists are supposed to connect with their fans through their music. It’s so obvious that you can’t understand that! I hope Janelle keeps touching more and more lives so it can make you even more mad than what you really are. Also, no it’s not Jane falling off of the Tightrope, it’s actually YOU who’s falling off. While you continue to hate, Janelle will keep on climbing higher and higher and will continue to uplift, inspire, motivate and change the lives of many people through her music! She is the realest artist out and I know that she won’t change for you and anyone else who spend their precious time hating!

  • Tyrellium

    It’s clearly obvious that you don’t understand the song, nor do you understand the video, NOR do you understand Janelle Monáe as a person. Who are you to say that Janelle is lame because she’s in touch with her emotions and she likes to identify with her fans? It seems like this article is the definition of psychobabble. You’re entitled to your opinion, but your opinion is a bit too much if you ask me.

  • Mike Reynolds

    A Secret Koolaid Drinker.

  • Graceful

    It’s people like you that are killing art… Sad. You are the exact repressive cult she is predicting… But the artists will prevail.

  • jocey bee

    Not only killing art, but unrealizing of the very serious message within the song. You mention nothing of the conditions Cold War speaks of, but critique her critique of the video? What exactly are you reporting? Wheres your artistry? Perhaps your time would have been better spent listening to the lyrics, & writing an article on how we could improve the conditions of humanity, rather than reading her twitter timeline. It would produce a more serving article im sure.

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