Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Janelle Monáe, "Tightrope"

What's not to like about 25-year-old R&B queen Janelle Monáe? She wears men's suits. She has an Afro pompadour. She looks right at you with wide, unblinking eyes as she foot-slides and sidesteps so smoothly that for a minute you think you're watching James Brown. Oh, and her debut release, The ArchAndroid, is an unwieldy sci-fi concept album about a mythical robot — pretty gutsy for a rookie artist. Monáe's standout song "Tightrope" proves she's got some serious funk inside her. She switches from quickly rapped verses to a high, soulful croon of a chorus with the skill of a veteran entertainer. "Tightrope" may sound vintage, but there's no way it will ever feel old.