The Electric Lady herself made her proper Saturday Night Live debut last night, and everyone who caught it is still looking to reacquaint themselves with gravity, ’cause girl floored the world with her moonwalking and skyrocketing scales. A bit spastic, a touch unhinged, and every ounce the textbook definition of what a late night TV music performance should embody, Monae was a veritable force of vocal might whose rendition of her latest singles provided a jolt of energy stronger than a case of Red Bull at the close of a long night out.
See also: Miley Cyrus Redeems Herself on SNL
Some folks are saying Miley Cyrus, who swung through SNL to make one of the most awkward cameos imaginable in a tired 12 Years a Slave sketch that put her twerking to use once again, overshadowed Monae. They’re wrong, and need to watch the replays of Monae taking “Electric Lady” and “Dance Apocalyptic” to task.
First up: the fullest performance SNL‘s seen this season with “Dance Apocalyptic.” Monae made the stage floor look as slick as a frog pond in January as she frenetically worked her way across it without skipping a beat. Not to keep going with the metaphors here, but Monae skated over that high belt effortlessly, keeping in time with a seemingly uncontrollable beat and fronting a band as big and formidable as the SNL studio would allow. She worked the floor, the mic, the highest reaches of her vocal register and the camera angles as though she’s been doing this since the days of Ed Sullivan, and one can only hope she keeps it up as Electric Lady’s pop anthem continues to burrow its way long past our eardrums and into our brains.
“Electric Lady” was the true achievement of the night, as the SNL stage has never seen someone take the moonwalk to a level rivaling that of the King of Pop himself. This was the live TV debut of the title track from Monae’s most recent (and triumphant) release, and she met the occasion with appropriate gusto, owning every note, every move, every glance and every leaping high note with the kind of bravado the funk-ridden R&B riffs of the track require. Solange makes an appearance in the song’s studio version, and that cameo — instead of a pop-in from Cyrus — would’ve been much more warmly received than Cyrus’ 2-second pop-in.
The peanut gallery was nearly unanimous in its adulation for Monae, but there were a couple clowns who just couldn’t help themselves from a Bruno Mars comparison. Here’s the Twitter round-up, post-Monae moonwalk.
First of all, you knew big things were in store, as Diddy doesn’t point people in the direction of a late night TV spot all too often.
Questlove couldn’t help but #humblebrag over the gal and his access to the stellar performance, and we can’t blame him.
SNL‘s own Jay Pharaoh was a huge fan of Monae’s as well. (Secretly kind of wish he would’ve come out in full-on Obama gear to dance his face off to it, but maybe next time.)
Kind of hilarious that we’re still talking about how “appropriate” vs. “iconic” Michael Jackson’s dance moves are, but okay.
Janelle Monae: Generator. Hey, Janelle, we got your next album title!
Yeah, we’d say we’d CATCH A GRENAAAAAAAADE for her. Otherwise, nah, she’s her own ferociously talented pop dynamo, man.
All due respect, we don’t think Bruno’s Panama hat would stand a chance atop Janelle’s pouf, but agree to disagree.
I don’t even know what page you’re on but I can tell you it’s the WRONG ONE.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 28, 2013
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