Tag Archives: Janelle Monae

Watch This Now: Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu – “Q.U.E.E.N.”

“Hey sister, am I good enough for your Heaven?”

Back in the game, people! My sincere apologies for the lax posting as of late. Just been quite busy with a myriad of other projects, things, bitlets… it’s all good, though. You can take the music videos away from DJY, but you can never take DJY away from the music videos! Especially if we’re talking about my next client. In 2010, she released the hands-down best song of the year in Tightrope, as well as one of the absolute finest records of the year in The ArchAndroid. Needless to say, she was featured in my best videos of the year. Twice! In 2012, she also played the single best show I saw in 2012 – keep in mind I also saw PrinceThe Beach BoysBen Folds FiveColdplayRadiohead et al. when I say that this woman utterly dominated.

So, where do we find Miss Janelle Monae in the throes of 2013? Once again, it looks like the petite powerhouse is out to save the world again; as she readies her new album The Electric Lady. So, how do you get people even more excited that you’re back? I mean, apart from the fact there happens to be a guest verse from Erykah freaking Badu just sizzling away in the song’s third act. No, no, we need bigger! Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B1? It’s video time!

Q.U.E.E.N. sets itself in the seemingly-not-all-that-distant future, in which time-travelling rebels have been captured, thrown into suspended animation and brought to The Living Museum in Metropolis. Two women enter the exhibit which contains Monae, Badu (here known as Badula Oblongata) and her bandmates, known under the Wondaland collective. After Q.U.E.E.N. is put on a very cool-looking record player, the exhibit comes to life. I’m sure you can imagine the chaos that ensues – we are talking about one of the greatest creative forces of the 21st century, after all. When Monae steps up, she steps fucking up. It’s such an exciting clip to watch – gorgeously shot, with great direction work from one Alan Ferguson; not to mention the outstanding costumes and wigs (I’ve always wondered what JM would look like with a short cut). I love the concept, I love the song. The Electric Lady could well be another game-changer. Don’t believe me? The booty don’t lie.

Top 30 Videos of 2010: 10 – 1!

You’ve waited long enough – or not at all, depending on whether you’ve read this blog before or not. Regardless, this has been a really fun countdown and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. Here are the ten best videos released within the year 2010. We’ll get back to bitching about shitty nineties videos this afternoon. As you were!

10. Janelle Monae feat. Big Boi – Tightrope

The funky was most certainly on section in the Metropolis when Janelle nailed this brilliant, shiny spectacle of a music video. Introducing the world to her bizarre, futuristic universe, Monae made this a video of several important lessons. Firstly, she is an incredible talent when it comes to…well, everything she does. Secondly, Big Boi still knows how to absolutely kill a verse, which he would later prove with his awesome solo record.  Most importantly, however, it taught us how to do THE dancemove of 2010 – the motherfucking Tightrope.

Devastatingly cool, it was very easy to get caught up in the pure frenzy of this video – and perhaps the best part of it was that it didn’t get old or become tired after multiple views. You’re still there, dancing your fucking genitals off. Right on, Janelle.

9. Mark Ronson and the Business Intl. feat. Q-Tip and MNDR – Bang Bang Bang

Well, now. Here’s one way to make an impression upon your comeback. For those who had no idea of the imminent return of Mr. Mark Ronson, this was a perfect re-introduction. No horns, no Motown, no Amy Winehouse…this one’s all about sharp suits, Tron-like graphics and a magic watch that can pretty much do anything as presented on a Japanese talk show where the host is speaking French. Confused? Good, that’s exactly what Ronson wants.

Bang Bang Bang is trippy, and maybe just a little freaked-out, when it comes to its music video. Conceptually, it’s killer – a really fun and inventive insight into Ronson’s imagination. Watch out for the awesome breakdancing kids and MNDR just generally being sexy as the particular highlights, but really, there’s plenty to be enjoyed in basically every second of this.

8. Gorillaz feat. Bobby Womack and Mos Def – Stylo

The Gorillaz team have never made a video that isn’t awesome. Simple fact of life, that one. What they’ve never tried before, however, is a video on THIS level of awesome. Here’s the skinny: It’s 2D and Murdoc in a car, being chased…by Bruce Willis. That name once again is Bruce. Fucking. Willis.

It’s all craziness to see who outruns who in this thrilling vid, which also saw the premiere of the Gorillaz’ new 3D look…well, for half of them, anyway. Noodle has apparently been turned into an android and Russell is about the size of an average whale upon diving into radioactive waters swimming towards Plastic Beach. What, you think I’m too caught up in the characters of Gorillaz? Maybe I am – but, if anything, that is a complete credit to the work of the people behind the act itself. I’ll always be at least partially obsessed with Gorillaz, and Stylo has done nothing to buck that trend.

7. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Another vivid display of beauty came, typically, from Arcade Fire – perhaps even more typically, in their collaboration with Spike Jonze. Dealing with some of the major themes which are found within the album, this is a twisted, haunting view of the insecurities, frustrations and fear that can come with seemingly innocent suburban life.

It probably won’t be a video that you particularly “get” or have a complete understanding of, but in a way that’s not quite the point of The Suburbs. It’s a video that’s open to interpretation and discussion, and it’s sure to have a lot of different ideas circulating around it. The way I see it, however, is that it’s an extended metaphor – it might seem safe to lock yourself in the suburbs, but when war comes knocking, the first people the suburbanites will turn against is one another. Make of that – and this video – what you will.

6. Brendan Maclean – Practically Wasted

The highest-ranking Australian video of the countdown doesn’t go to the most popular Australian artist, nor one with the biggest budget. Why Brendan Maclean made unquestionably the best Australian music video of 2010 was purely on the basis of his imagination and flair for creative, exciting ideas within the short space of three minutes.

Maclean basically went nuts with his first-ever music video, taking a bizarre split-personality concept and quite literally taking it to the circus. Whips, chains, cages and drumming midgets ahoy! This was the first video that was ever blogged about on Y,WGAV!, and I’m incredibly proud to see how it’s stood the test of time. A remarkable achievement from an artist that can only get better and better from here.

5. Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg – California Gurls

The biggest, brightest, boldest and cutest pop video of 2010. Almost blindingly colourful and exuberant, Perry made a huge statement with this video – first and foremost that the bitch was indeed back, but also a statement that showed there was still room for inventiveness within the mainstream pop music video.

Yes, there was plenty of T &A – as you’ll find with so many of her peers’ videos – but there was amazingly still a totaly innocence about it for the most part of this video. This is a magical candy land, there for Katy’s taking, where everything is sugary sweet – except for those jelly baby things that KP off in the first verse. It’s hard not to get lost in the alternate reality, where candy rules and jellybean pimps get buried in the sand up to their heads. Oh, also, I’m not sure if this has been mentioned but SHE SHOOTS WHIPPED CREAM FROM HER TITS. That is all.

4. Hot Chip – I Feel Better

There were some wonderful, clever and hilarious videos that were scattered throughout 2010, as you’ve seen ever so clearly throughout this list. With that being said, I put it to you that there was no video in 2010 that was THIS wonderful, THIS clever and THIS hilarious in addition to being THIS friggin’ weird. Yes, Hot Chip‘s unforgettable lazer-eyed rampage against the manufactured pop treadmill was my easy pick for this year’s biggest “WTF” moment when it dropped around mid-year.

Who the fuck is that guy? Why does he have no hair? How is he levitating? Wait…what the FUCK did he just do to the shirtless guy? Was that Hot Chip in the crowd? Holy SHIT, what the hell is that thing?…you get the idea.  This video is a complete mindfuck – savage in its humour and just a little goofy for good measure. You’ll be laughing for days and reeling in the corner from shock for a little bit more.

3. OKGO – This Too Shall Pass

In a double whammy, who else but the clever bastards from OKGO to get two videos for the same song tied in the top five? The marching band version was an ambitious attempt from the band, literally performing the song live in the middle of a forest in the style of a marching band – big drums, uniforms, the lot. Swamp monster jumped up to join them on wind instruments before a whole horn section took over and everyone went crazy. It’s a really fun video, and another risky one-take concept that works beautifully. If they’d just left it at that, we’d have all been happy – but no, there was even better things to come.

We were promised a new video for the studio version of the single, and there was a chance it would pass even their crowning achievement of Here It Goes Again. Now, I’m not one to get ahead of myself, but I honestly believe that they may well have made their best video ever in the form of round two of This Too Shall Pass.

The effort they went to, the cleverness of it and the fact that you could always pick up something new upon each and every view. Circulating around what’s called a Rube Goldberg machine, the camera follows through a variety of fascinating objects that you wouldn’t normally expect in such a contraption. My personal favourites include the puppet version of the band, the sneaky plug for the album (Of the Colour of the Blue Sky) and – perhaps the most symbolic of all – the smashing of  several TVs that happen to be playing the Here It Goes Again video. Subliminally bitchy? Who knows? All I can say is that OKGO fucking nailed it. Again.

2. Arcade Fire – The Wilderness Downtown (We Used To Wait)

You may be wondering why there is no embedded video. It’s simple, really – this video depends entirely on you. Yes, you. To participate in this experiment, all you need to do is type in the location of the area in which you grew up. From there, you get lost in this beautiful experiment that has significantly pushed the boundaries of the music video by introducing the factor of interactivity. Literally unlike any other video of 2010. To make your own, visit www.thewildernessdowntown.com

1. Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce – Telephone

Technically, this one shouldn’t even be on the list. In the time since its release, we’ve seen Telephone evolve beyond a music video and into a complete cultural phenomenon – a milestone of pop culture by which all other music videos, genre regardless, will be compared against. Borrowing from Tarantino (literally), classic Hollywood horror, New York modern art, spaghetti westerns and vintage science fiction, Gaga created something peculiar, entrancing and, above all, big.

How big are we talking here? Let’s put it purely in the perspective of its impact – there were evening news reports on the video. The blogosphere lost its collective shit. Within hours, there were Facebook fan pages for everything from quotes (“You’ve been a very, very, very bad girl, Gaga”) to props used (“Lady Gaga’s cigarette sunglasses”) from the Telephone video. From MTV to the LA Times and back, you couldn’t have been on a single pop culture related website for at least a fortnight without major discussion of Telephone going on. Even FOX News got in on the hype, with Culture Campaign leader Sandy Rios describing the video as “poison for the minds of our kids.” Charming.

Now, to validate this frenzy – what is it that makes Telephone so remarkable? Buddy, how long have you got? There is so much going on here – from fierce commentary on sexuality and the damaging ways of the celebrity rumour mill, all the way into popcorn-horror fantasy and bitingly ironic product placement. Gaga, in collaboration with director Jonas Åkerlund, was not intending to reflect any world but her own, any imaginative vision than one of hers. In short, this ten-minute saga is completely insane. With that said, that’s exactly why it worked so well. I mean, the lesbian makeout scenes? Wrapping herself in caution tape? Dancing around with who many agree to be the sexiest woman alive in order to celebrate mass death by poison? Sepearately, none of this should work at all, but when you throw it all together it becomes this beautiful, unforgettable mess.

Any edited version you have seen of this video is nothing short of an insult. Either take it in its unabridged glory or not at all. Whatever your experience or interpretation of Telephone, to deny its importance and its significance is nothing short of dumbfounding. Gaga has been building up to something big with her videos – including Bad Romance, which is officially the most watched music video in online history – but with Telephone, she has undoubtedly cemented her legacy. We’ll be looking back on this one in years to come as a turning point, believe you me.

Top 30 Videos of 2010: 15 – 11

15. Crowded House – Saturday Sun

Neil Finn, you diabolical. Did not see a vide of this level of awesomeness coming from these guys. In one of the more trippy video sequences of 2010, the members of the Crowdies painted themselves blue and inverted the colours on their video in which they perform, hang around pools and generally look a bit weird. 100% guaranteed freak out material right  here, people! This video was also the debut of Neil’s moustache, which was pretty divisive amongst longtime fans. I thought it made him look like a bit of a dude, but judge for yourself.

14. Adrian Lux – Teenage Crime

How do you make one of the catchiest dance songs of 2010 even better? Simple: add MILFs. Given how well the adventures of this particular cougar on the prowl worked with this banger for its music video, one can’t help but be surprised that no-one had really thought of it sooner. After putting her kids to bed, our heroine goes out in search of some fresh meat and finds it in the club. It doesn’t exactly sound like the most riveting concept on paper, but in a way that’s exactly why it worked so well.

13. Adam Lambert – Whataya Want From Me

It’s pretty amazing that this video stood the test of time after being released only fifteen days into 2010. An arresting, enigmatic and powerful pop video saw Lambert arguing with the camera – or whomever’s perspective we are watching from. We’re caught up in the moment and only get momentary relief as the action pans to Lambert rocking out with his band. This definitely isn’t normally my thing, but what’s so brilliant about this video is how involved in it you become – wanting to know what’s happened, where you are, why Adam is so furious with you. As far as mainstream pop goes, it was pretty outlandish and bold to create something like this.

12. Janelle Monae – Cold War

Bare, stripped to the core and amazingly confronting, this face-to-face video is all that was needed for this song. Janelle says every last word to your face in a way that only she can. It’s nothing short of remarkable. Enough said. View my original post on the video here.

11. Gotye – Eyes Wide Open

Whatever you take this video for – social commentary, an adventure through a new universe or just simply another stunningly cool animation from the team that brought us the brilliant Hearts A Mess video – Wally deBacker once again completely nailed it. This one just got better and better with each viewing – truly a trait of a great music video – and its creativity is simply undeniable. Can’t wait to see where he goes next in 2011.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the top 10!!

Watch This Now: Janelle Monae – “Cold War”

“I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me…”

Janelle Monae might look little, but she’s the biggest and most important woman in pop circa 2010 and beyond if her mind-blowing debut album The Archandroid is anything to go by. You’ve probably already seen the very, very cool video for Tightrope featuring Big Boi – expansive, exciting and all over the shop. By shocking contrast, a song with an equal burst of energy in Cold War has been given a very different style of music video. That said, it is just as affecting – if not more.

Believed to be a tribute to the classic Sinead O’Connor video for Nothing Compares 2 U, the video consists of Monae herself. You might think I’ve forgotten a word or a phrase there. I haven’t. It’s Janelle Monae. Staring into the camera. Without a shirt on (you only see her shoulders, perv). Miming the words to the song. It’s strange, and occasionally difficult to watch. But persevering with this video results in one of the most raw, honest and powerful videos of the year. You’ll not only appreciate the woman’s natural beauty, but her talents as a performer with this video. Fearless, strong and with a stronger grip on reality than any of her contemporaries, please experience Janelle Monae. Literally.

(watch in full screen if possible)


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