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.