Janelle Monae “Heroes (David Bowie cover)”

janelle-monae-primetime-video-2“Heroes” is an old favorite and Monáe is one of my favorite artists at the moment (The Electric Lady and The ArchAndroid were my top albums in their respective years; I’m a fanboy), so my expectations were high for this cover. Janelle Monáe is such a versatile artist. She’s run the gamut from Lauryn Hill-style neo-soul to Simon and Garfunkel-like folk.

My expectations were not completely met, but calling this track a disappointment feels harsh. Monáe plays with energy in a really interesting way over the course of her albums. Part of the reason the success of 2010’s “Tightrope” is a little frustrating is the fact that it doesn’t really represent Monáe as an artist. All over The Electric Lady she turns up the tempo and is just a ridiculous ball of energy. But her slower, lower-energy tracks show off a level of care and precision that trump the blowouts like “Tightrope” or “Q.U.E.E.N.” The problem with this track is that it’s a bit lower energy for Monáe but is short on the subtleties that make her slower tracks so good. While it’s pretty and her voice sounds great, it certainly can’t stand next to the work on her first two full-length albums.

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