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Janelle Monáe on BBC Radio's Live Lounge




Janelle Monáe has finally released her standalone single entitled “Night Dreamer”. The ferocious track is accompanied by an introduction and a narrative about having a tumultuous relationship with winter. She recently performed the song alongside with “Rise Again” on BBC Radio’s Live Lounge.

Purveyor of some of the smoothest, most romantic songs of the last three decades, the Nigerian-born, British-raised pop vocalist and her excellent band Sade was involved in Steve McQueen’s “Widows” by contributing to the soundtrack. In BBC Radio’s Live Lounge, Janelle Monáe dedicated her cover of the song to her dearest friend Viola Davis. “This song is dedicated to Viola Davis. She reflects something visceral and unpredictable in humanity that you somehow connect to. A treasure. This movie is a realistic journey into women gaining ownership of their lives. And not at the expense of who they are”  she says. Widows – an adaptation of Lynda La Plante’s 1983 British miniseries – marks Viola Davis’s first lead role in a major studio movie. “Sade is an incomparable talent and incredible artist who so rarely releases new material, but luckily the original series of Widows had deeply resonated with her” Steve McQueen says. Sade wrote “The Big Unknown” specifically for Widows’ final scene. According to a press release, Steve McQueen encouraged her to “dig deep within to write a song about loss and survival”. He states that as a director, he and Monáe incorporate current regimes “into a narrative. Horrific sort of politicians. False prophets. It's in our everyday." The underlying themes of political discourse, racial prejudice, and gender politics come intertwine in ways that underline the stakes of her excursion. Janelle Monáe was involved in last week’s episode of “How to Get Away with Murder” as well. If there is a woman with adversity, Viola Davis knows how to embody her. Grieving mothers and desperate drug addicts, for example. In Widows, she’s the wife of a fallen heist man. 

Janelle Monáe was accompanied detached cool jazz backing and even icier vocals. In cosmic jazz, afrofuturism evolved differently, with the concept of space taking on a consciousness-expanding quality. For her performance of “The Big Unknown”, she integrated South African jazz and house music. Hypnotic double drum rhythms frame the colourful interplay of saxophone and tuba as Monáe engulfed the polyrhythms without missing a note. Tenor sax and trombone became amplified the as hypnotic, Sixties-sounding bass. Her specialty is the tenor saxophone, and her style is quite somber—and the spacily fragile baritone-sax interpretation kept listeners at ease. There’s the sweet, leisurely, breathy tone at the lower end of the tenor sax. Monáe’s voice is trenchant, soothing and well-supported. She also incorporated Sade’s 1992 song entitled “Pearls”, from her Love Deluxe album. She hit every single high note with ease and made the song feel brand new again. The violin and cello-driven song offers a near-classical performance that is juxtaposed by Monáe's runs. In her performance of Pearls, she combined elements of funk, Ethio-jazz, and psyche. She plays off a rhythm section that works as a recognizable dancehall beat and made her sound more conventional. 

The theme of unreciprocated love was further executed in her following performance. Whilst performing Night Dreamer, she has crept onto that stage and interrogated that very power: by playing fast solos through thick, strange distortion, by contorting her voice into a disarming shriek, by shredding her guitar whilst bombastic percussionists correspond with her. An early backdrop of seemingly idyllic mountains suggests loneliness, however that collocates with her abrasiveness. Her aleatory approach to composition and choral voice arrangements all channel a music of the spheres.  At one point the backdrop falls revealing a dramatic scene of crashing waves, to which Monáe cries “don't run or sleep away, the night dreamer is scarred by the hands of faith”. The weight of the lyrics is much more palpable live, as the band enhances every emotion with a spot-on performance. The wistful keys initiate Monáe’s six minute track, however as the track unfurls, soulful, rock-infused production is bolstered and is accompanied by an enchanting gospel choir. The tight band’s bubbling synths and complex syncopations were soon put in the shade by her raw vocal talent; the instrumental and vocal prowess were allowed to shine unadorned. 



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Alesus 2,469


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hector 31,054

fuck this shit! i did not spent three hours doing this video for it to be almost at the bottom!

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