Song of the Week: “Cold War” by Janelle Monáe

I’m going to admit this up front so we can get it out of the way—I’ve been behind the times when it comes to Janelle Monáe. I’d always heard her name, but I never investigated any further, never gave her a true listen.

It wasn’t until the Facing Race conference a couple months ago, when during the “Change Culture, Change the World” session, our instructor Bridgit Antoinette Evans asked us to share what pop culture entities truly changed our lives. Someone in the session said Janelle Monáe’s “The ArchAndroid.” Going through a difficult time and questioning his own identity, this person expressed that Monáe’s album had everything he needed—a futuristic world with robots, challenges to systems of oppression, and in-depth exploration around the idea of being “other.” He could have just stopped at robots. I knew I had to give Janelle Monáe a real listen.

I downloaded the album from iTunes immediately, and listened to it on my drive from Dallas back to Austin.

Mind. Was. Blown.

Cindi Mayweather, Monáe’s android alter ego from Metropolis, falls in love with a human and is being persecuted because of her otherness. After all, anything different is dangerous, isn’t it? Quite a few musical genres are melded together here: R&B, pop, classical, Broadway musical, spooky folk, and just some crazy sci-fi sounding stuff too. I chose this song in particular because it has strong pop elements and will be easy for new listeners to digest. Plus, Monáe’s incredible vocals are really showcased in this piece.

“Cold War’s” vibe and positive message will lend you strength and purpose. “All the tribes come, and the mighty will crumble. We must brave this night and have faith in love.”

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