I used to be one of those people who would decide not to do something just because everyone else did, and assume that because everyone else did, it was not nice. A number of things have changed my mind about this.
For instance, High School Musical is mainstream. This might not be the best example because, though it was popular, a lot of people didn’t like it because of various (*cough* invalid *cough*) reasons. But whatever. I liked HSM because it was fun, because I was a kid, because I loved musicals (still do). And its popularity did not sway me from liking it.
And Harry Potter is popular. But it’s fantastic. Twilight is popular, and I like it too…but not for the same reason that everybody else does. But the explanation for this is long, so I shall save it for another day. But, you see, you cannot honestly say that you will forever refuse to get into something for the sole reason that a lot of other people like it.
I mean, in my opinion, a lot of things that people like are foolish to me. Particularly mainstream music. I really don’t know how to understand why people like music that does not even have the capacity to enrich their lives. You see, if I were to talk about this, I would go on for a rather long time.
Anyway. If we don’t already know how much I love Janelle Monae, I think there is a problem. I lover her outfits, her lyrics, her style…Janelle is bae, to put it simply. Have you ever known an artiste who never wears anything but black, white and red? I love Janelle’s constant preaching on behalf of the unorthodox. She has shown continuously that there is another way to do things – make music, dress in public, whatever. And her decision to create an artistic society of like-minded people, Wondaland – beautiful. This android thing that she has had going on…who would be mad enough to do that? To create an entire alternate world – a Metropolis – with androids and Cindi Mayweather and Sir Greendown and Joey Vice and whatnot, and base her whole career on this fantasy.
(Side note: I started, but never finished reading Marissa Meyer’s “Cinder”, which is an adaptation of Cinderella in a world of cyborgs and androids, with Cinder, the cyborg as the main character. It fits so well. I wonder if Janelle has ever read it.)\
Also, Janelle’s hair is swag.
Now, after having established that I am a hardcore Janelle fan…sigh. After Tightrope and locked Inside and Electric Lady and Q.U.E.E.N., it would understandably be very disappointing, at least at first, when you watch Yoga. Yoga is probably the closest thing to mainstream Janelle has ever done. The song is as catchy as any Rihanna or Nicki Minaj song…but somehow, it’s still classier.
Aha, so this is where the things I’ve been talking about earlier come into play. This is where I start fighting. See me contradicting myself here? I am one who slams the mainstream left, right and centre, and here I am, making an exception just for Monae, because I like her, right? If I weren’t me, I’d look like that to myself as well, actually. I’d be looking like one of those hypocritical Justin Beiber fans who tolerate him spitting on his fans just because they believe (LOL) that everything he does is a holy action. The brainwashed population.
Alright, then. Forgive my apparent double standards. (And this is partially addressed at myself.) I’ve been conflicted in my mind for a while, so I guess I felt the need to rationalize it out in words. Because the fact of the matter is, though Yoga left me shocked at its…mainstream-ness, I could not deny that I liked the song from the moment I heard/watched it. (I did not hear the song before I watched the video.) And when I thought through the reason I would even have been inclined to dislike it even after I liked it, and concluded that it is because of its mainstream-ness, that is when I came to the conclusion that I have stated in the earlier paragraphs: you can’t just say you don’t like something just because it’s popular.
I watched a Janelle interview that was conducted prior to the Yoga release, with her new signed artist addition to Wondaland, the Nigerian Jidenna. (He’s cool. And he featured on Yoga.) Now, in this interview, Janelle had already stated that she was going to shock her fans. Well, at that time, nobody knew how much. And she also said, and I agreed, that dynamism is also a key part of the art. You legitimately could not just remain one-way throughout your entire career. Of course people would get bored of you, right? And I watched another interview where she said something controversial that I was able to immediately identify with nevertheless. You know how Janelle nearly always wears a tuxedo when she performs? Well, she said that if she came onto the scene and everybody was wearing tuxedos, she’d probably have been half-naked. And truly, I would have probably done something similar. (That doesn’t mean that it’s morally right…I’m an ethical relativist sometimes.)
But I cannot truly see Janelle’s “Yoga” as an encouragement of the over-sexualisation of females in the media – especially not from a person who tweets “Sit down. I’m not for male consumption” at a misguided male, and especially not with a song that has lyrics like, “You cannot police me so get off my areola!”
Again, to quote her in defence, “Sometimes I’m peachy, and sometimes I’m vulgar.” And actually, aren’t we all?
I think the song is about teaching girls that it’s okay to just have fun and to like your body like it is. It’s a nearly-shallow song, but actually…not quite.
So yes. This is me not breaking into lamentations about a Miley Cyrus-like transition. Of course, if that were to happen (God forbid), I won’t be deceiving myself about what I’m witnessing.
8 thoughts on “Let Janelle’s Booty Do That Yoga”
Hi. I feel as though this is somewhat condescending. In fact your whole view on “mainstream” sounds very condescending and like someone trying way too hard to be cool. I’ve read your stuff for some time now and you seem to be obsessed with this very american high school movie notion of “popular kids”, “jocks” etc etc sort of social status quo (which we do not have to be honest) and seem to think you are that girl in the movie who does everything “uncool” and doesn’t care about how she looks or whatever and so is “cool.” This is just like that line in Taylor Swift’s ‘We Belong Together’ about ‘I wear sneakers, she wears high heels, she’s head chearleader and I’m on the bleachers’. So what if she wears high heels or is a chearleader? So what? So that makes her snobby? Anyway this is not about Taylor Swift, it’s just that I used to be like you too and thought I was better than people because I wasn’t into mainstream stuff, didn’t listen to rap and read and wrote but what the heck, that was stupid and pretentious. Calling something mainstream alone is hipster-ish and pretentious. If you don’t like rap or pop or whatever that’s cool but stop making it seem as if it makes you better than others because it doesn’t. Hopefully you will grow out of this. And by the way, there is usually a reason why a lot of people like something- it’s nice. Don’t take this the wrong way, you’re a great writer and seem like a really nice person but the way you create this idea of “me” and “them” based on superficial things like “mainstream” music and other preferences in a lot of your articles is unnerving and seems obnoxious.
Hi back. Thanks for your comment. I understand why you think the way you do. I appreciate your opinion. But I also disagree somewhat with some things that you say. (But we may never reach a consensus. This might be one of those incidences when we must just agree to disagree.)
I am not trying to be condescending and it kind of sucks that I have come across that way to you (and to whoever else might be thinking like this). I do not, in fact, think that I am better than everyone else. In fact, I have more of what is referred to as an inferiority complex. I love pop, actually. I used to be a Trace addict (before boarding school, when I actually had access to TV), and I knew lyrics upon lyrics upon lyrics.
As I have stated in this post, at some point, I started to think that I didn’t want to get into something because everyone else was in it. In fact, a lot of people think this way about a lot of things – especially books. And as for those, I read all the popular ones! And I keep trying to tell people who think this way that, hey, this book/series is actually nice. It’s popular BECAUSE it’s nice. Additionally, I have stated in this blog post that I can’t decide not to like something just because it’s popular…which is what you’re saying. So, you’re saying what I’m saying.
Back to Taylor Swift (who is, by the way, mainstream herself)…As far as I can tell, she never called the lead cheerleader snobby. She just wanted the guy, and she was invisible, while the cheerleader was ‘out there’ and plain visible. I would never have come to the ‘snobby’ conclusion, reading into it. Honestly, I think perhaps, you may sometimes be reading into things that are not there.
I disagree that calling something mainstream is pretentious. Call a spade a spade. Popular, familiar to the masses, conventional…if that is what it is, then that is what it is. What would be pretentious would be saying that something which follows all these recognized conventions is so different and so unique.
I am into what I am into, and I am not doing it to be pretentious. I do not think I am better than everyone else and I am not trying to be obnoxious. I don’t dislike rap. (I actually kind of want to be a rapper myself.) I apologize for coming across to you that way.
In conclusion, what I want to say is: familiar can be comforting, while different can be refreshing.
I don’t totally agree with you but I understand you. Mainstream and “indie” exist for different reasons but they need each other to survive. I also listen to a lot of “weird/unpopular to the ‘popular’ music”. Check out the February 15 EP before the bad guys start playing it. 🙂
Well I agree with that.
First, I like the way you write.
As I watched Yoga, I thought to myself ‘This is probably Janelle’s most humanist, feminist move yet’. I didn’t feel comfortable with how people held her up as some sort of shining symbol of black female dignity and purity in opposition to people like Beyoncé or Minaj.
I like that she ditched the suit and made a booty song, because for women to have freedom of choice means they’re free to pop that booty if they so desire, and nobody should make them feel bad for doing so 🙂
Also some music is for forgetting you have problems. I couldn’t listen to deep, serious stuff all the time – I would get seriously depressed.
Never really heard any songs of Janelle’s until “Yoga”. I had heard about here unorthodox nature prior to so I had a fair idea what the hype around “Yoga” was. High School Musical was the bomb-diggity. Let no one say otherwise. Except for the sequels after. I watched the DVD 27 times and by the end of the week I had actually memorized the entire movie (not just the songs) top to bottom and could recite it back.
I honestly have nothing to say about the post. I just enjoyed reading your rant. Ha. As someone who drinks from both the mainstream and the not-so-main-stream, I can half-relate to this post.
LOL your comment made me smile.