Janelle Monaé may look like a petite, pompadoured doo-wop singer straight out of early Motown. But when she hits the stage, she bursts into something light years beyond that. Possessed by a beat too funky to be from the 20th century, she nearly dances right out of her saddle shoes.
Yesterday, Monaé released her new album The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV). The tracks make up the latest chapters in the sci-fi adventure epic starring her alter-ego: Cindi Mayweather, an android from the 28th century on the run from cyborgs who want to imprison her for falling in love with a human. I know, it sounds weird – but ground-breaking work usually does, no?
The video for the single “Tightrope” (featuring Outkast’s Big Boi) is so damn fun, I dare you not to groove in your desk chair:
Say you’re from the future, a future in which time machines exist. Why not take a trip back to the good old 21st century? And join us here at WNYC on Tuesday, November 17, as Kurt hosts the live taping of our show all about time travel. You’ll meet some of the great scientists and fiction writers of our time as they grapple with this age-old fantasy, and hopefully you can enlighten us.
People from the present are also welcome. Serious scientists argue that time travel is theoretically possible, so get prepared — and get a funk fix from The hottest android diva of the 28th century, embodied by Janelle Monae. For more information and tickets, visit the Greene Space.
"Mirror Image"; "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"; "The Hitch-Hiker"
Errant kid-carrying balloons, planes that overshoot the runway by 150 miles — these days, preternatural occurrences are the stuff of cable news. But 50 years ago, viewers tuned in to “The Twilight Zone” to get their weekly eeriness fix. Before the “The Twilight Saga,” and before “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF” became the creepiest show in TV history, Rod Sterling’s groundbreaking sci-fi series premiered on a Friday night in October 1959. Not only did it offer far-fetched premises and unexpected twists; there was also a heavy dose of social commentary shrouded in all of the fantasy and suspense.
This month has been full of “Twilight Zone” 50th anniversary commemorations across the country. Regional theaters in places like Tuscumbia, Alabama and Ben Lomond, California have produced stage versions of some of the show’s classic episodes. Binghamton, New York, Sterling’s hometown, hosted its own celebration. And if you’re reading this from Los Angeles, consider checking out tonight’s panel discussion and screening at the Egyptian Theatre. There’s also a lot to look forward to: Warner Brothers, in conjunction with Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, is developing a new “Twilight Zone” feature film for 2011.
And on a different sci-fi note, “Studio 360” is planning its first ever live show in WNYC’s Greene Space on November 17, and it’s about time. The time travel-themed show will feature astrophysicist David Goldberg and forward-thinking funk singer Janelle Monae (along with her alter-ego Cindi Mayweather). We’ll broadcast the show later in the year, so you’ll literally be glimpsing into the future by joining us: tickets info here.
The SXSW music festival in Austin has an absurd number of bands play every year — this time it was up to 1900. So to find the gems, needless to say, is challenging — and wonderfully refreshing if you succeed. I saw the amazingly inventive soul/funk singer Janelle Monáe play at a small club in Boston back in the fall and was determined to try to interview her for Studio 360. In the end, I got 6 minutes with her backstage after her Austin Music Hall show. My story airs this weekend. Meanwhile, check out this video of her performing “Sincerely Jane.” One catch: the bass was so loud in the venue that it blew out my recording. So I synced it up with the audio from her CD. It ends up working quite nicely, and you still get a sense of her dazzling stage persona.