Janelle Monáe is a great singer !
I first saw her perform on the David Letterman Show where she danced and sang her way through Tightrope. She later sang the same song on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and also on an episode of So You Think You Can Dance, where, not surprisingly, she and her backup dancers really shone. There is also her official video for it with the same backup dancers but a much different vibe than the live performances.
One of the outstanding qualities of Janelle is her articulate explanation of the meaning and intent of her music.
She shows a completely different type of performance is her song "Cold War" which is filled with intimacy and authenticity. It has a political and social justice message and I find myself deeply moved when I listen to it.
It is her song "Sincerely, Jane" that most directly speaks to me. I first saw it in a 2007 clip from an Atlanta TV show. She's performed it at many locations and you can watch how its evolved. "Are we really living or just walking dead now" is the quotation from the lyrics I find especially thought provoking. In her live performance at Criminal Records she both sings the song and also speaks to it at the end of the clip.
It was her live performance at the Fillmore, where her normally tight and neat chignon came undone, that I find very endearing.
Rather than putting words into her mouth there is an interview she did with Monique on late night TV that is enlightening. If you haven't watched Monique's talk show on BET then you aren't fully experiencing all TV has to offer.
Lastly, for something completely different, listen to her sing "Smile" and fully enjoy the beauty she brings to the song. Janelle has said she is influenced by James Brown in her dancing and singing but I also see Lena Horne.
Let me know what you think about her music and which song you like the best !