Sheesh!... there was a rapid fire succession of video premieres last week that I wanted to cover but I simply could not get to them all—- well I could have, but I opted to interact with actual human beings as the week wore on instead.
So here I am, a few days late, finally getting around to doing a post on the new one from Janelle Monae. The R&B girls really put it down on the video front last week what with Kelis’ Eurodance mysticism, Erykah’s controversial naked late night R&B, and Janelle’s James Brown-ian funk party all racking up YouTube hits with a quickness. The ladies more than made up for the double disappointment from a pair of dud Usher videos and a weak one from Janet.
“Tightrope” opens with Miz Monae delivering the first verse in her uh, “suite” at the Palace of The Dogs, an asylum where dancing is considered subversive behavior and strictly forbidden. As the video progresses, J. Mo meets up with her similarly hot-footed homies before spending the rest of the clip executing choreography that would make the Godfather of Soul proud. The vid is a rapid-pace mix of retro cool tuxes, naked ankles, and some serious jaw-dropping gliding not only from the crew of spandex-tight dancers, but from Money Monae herself—- was I the last to know that homegirl could put it down like that? Not content to simply be a highly stylized dance performance, the video also features a subplot involving ‘Nelley being pursued by two mirror faced grim reapers who apparently want it to be “lights out!” for her and her happy feet.
What’s interesting about “Tightrope” is that it looks and feels equally modern as it does authentically retro. Sure there is a definite back in the day vibe about the whole affair, but it doesn’t seem as time warp stuck as say, Raphael Saadiq and that whole 60’s R&B thing that he has been doing for a couple of albums now. What will be interesting to see is how Janelle’s image evolves as this schtick grows old with audiences rather quickly and she runs the risk of pigeonholing herself if she stays with it for too long. In the meantime, she can take pride in one-upping an artist who is supposed to excel at these types of choreography-heavy videos as he is too busy singing about “boobies” and re-hiring the one trick pony lighting director from “Yeah!”. Grade: A
Download “Tightrope” here.
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