Before Monday night's listening party for Janelle Monae's third album, "The Electric Lady," none of us were quite sure what to expect—or how to get there. After arriving at a nondescript building in West Town, we were ushered through the back and into an Electric Ladyland—or, rather, a teeny club festooned with Courvoisier shot glasses, Janelle-themed swag and a cupcake table. There actually was a girl whose job it was to guard the cupcake table until Janelle arrived. This does not sound like a good way to spend a Monday evening.
Janelle was who the crowd was really there to see, and Janelle they would get, after nearly two hours of waiting. The most important thing you need to know about Janelle Monae is that she is completely awesome. Even tinier and more gorgeous in person, she didn't hesitate for a second before prancing her way into the crowd to dance at the center of the circles that formed around her. During one song, she even lead the entire floor in the Electric Slide. Thankfully her extremely minimal security allowed her to fully enjoy and interact with the audience.
And since this was a listening party, there also was new music. Along with already-released singles "Q.U.E.E.N.," "Dance Apocalyptic" and "Primetime," Janelle belted and trilled along with "What an Experience," "Victory," "Electric Lady" and "We Were Rock n' Roll." One was sad, most were energetic and all sounded significantly more commercial than anything on her last album, "The ArchAndroid."
"The Electric Lady" is still going to be a great album. I'm just hopeful that the same fame that's allowing Janelle a contract with Cover Girl isn't going to compromise the funky-fresh individuality that makes her such a standout artist. No matter what, I can't wait for her Vic show in October.
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