Friday, February 4, 2011

Janelle Monae: Your Own Personal Sock Hop

I had a request the other day that I take a look at some of Janelle Monae's music in a blog post, and it didn't seem like a bad idea, so here's her hit "Tightrope" featuring Big Boi.

"Tightrope" from The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)
by Janelle Monae (2010)

While listening to this track, I saw vague ivory or beige shapes quickly turning back and forth with the rhythm, like (please bear with me) socked feet dancing in place while seated! Perhaps why I was so reminded of feet was that the blurry cream-colored shapes seemed to be attached to a dark brown surface, almost like a dance floor. The motion is fun and energetic, but still very grounded, like everything that's happening in the music (vocals, horns, etc.) is glued to the rhythm section, hence the being seated while dancing. The rhythm also has a very natural, earthy quality which probably gives it that rich brown shade.

Sepia Shards
Sepia Shards original painting

vintage 1960's cocoa and cream party dress
Vintage 1960s Cocoa and Cream Party Dress

vintage 1960s two tone BROWN leather lace-up SHOES - size 9
Vintage 1960s Leather Shoes
from Fig and Twig $46

Foot Folly - 8X10 Fine Art Photography
Foot Folly 8x10 fine art photograph

During Big Boi's interlude, the bass line really comes out, and suddenly within the image are these popping greens, emanating from the brown surface but moving away from it and always to the left. It's like the bass line is it's own entity, reflecting the rhythm but not restricted by it, adding it's own little beat and color to the mix.

Tree Branches
Tree Branches art print
by Lucky Bluebird Art $16

Vintage 50s early 60s PASTEL POLKA-DOT WIGGLE cocktail dress MINT GREEN and AQUA S
Vintage Pastel Polka Dot Wiggle Dress
from jpyone $48

Another great element of the song occurs around 3:15, when the song shifts into this more sultry, '70s jazz style. All the individual elements of the song up to that point (the rhythm, the vocals, the horns, the bass) suddenly ooze into this more mellow sound and become a single unit, and as a result, all the colors sort of blend together and the image becomes abstract and vague, like your looking at it across a smoke-filled room.

8x10 Archival Handsigned REPRODUCTION Print of GeoHorizon 9
GeoHorizon 9 archival reproduction print
by Lisa Carney $40

1980 Vintage Clothing Abstract Flower Dress from Pudding
Vintage 1980s Abstract Flower Dress
from The Pudding Store Vintage $52

And that's Janelle Monae's "Tightrope." To be honest, it may have been a self-fulfilling prophecy, but after listening to the track non-stop while putting this post together, I am sitting here in my worn out, white socks dancing back and forth across the brown hardwood floor underneath my chair. I guess some of this "musical imagery" isn't so far-fetched after all!


Janelle Monae rocks a one-of-a-kind look that is thoroughly vintage menswear but somehow still comes across as contemporary women's fashion that is way ahead of the curve. From tuxedos to prep school blazers, I would've sworn she was raised in London rather than Kansas City, MO. Here are some pieces to help recreate her look!

Vintage 90s Black Cropped Tuxedo Jacket S 
Vintage Black Tuxedo Bow Tie EE08011519) Fabric Covered Stud Earrings (15mm)
Vintage Jazzy Spectator Oxfords 7 to 8
Vintage 1990s Black Cropped Tuxedo Jacket from Twig Vintage $42
Vintage Black Tuxedo Bow Tie from Raleigh Vintage $12
Fabric Covered Stud Earrings by Jessie Jewels $9
Vintage Jazzy Spectator Oxfords from Omnia Vintage Accessory Shop $45

1 comment:

  1. I love this girl. Her style is so rad!
    I heard Tightrope a while back and have been meaning to download her whole album. Great post.


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