Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dance, android, dance!

Are androids freaks for twerking in the mirror? Are they weird for dancing alone late at night? Do they dream of electric sheep? According to ArchAndroid Janelle Monae, the answers are no, no, and maybe.

Monae began her psychedelic soul/sci-fi odyssey with her 2007 EP Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), which follows her alter-ego Cindi Mayweather, an android on the run because she has fallen in love with a human. The futuristic drama continues on Monae's full-length follow-ups, 2010's The ArchAndroid and 2013's The Electric Lady, where Cindi Mayweather becomes a kind of messiah to the people of Metropolis.

While Monae's sound and style draw influence from a wide variety of sources, there's a considerable portion of Fritz Lang's classic 1927 sci-fi epic Metropolis in her sensibility. Both share common themes, like class disparity and the mechanization of humanity, and both feature leading lady androids. Monae's android is completely different in character from Maria in Metropolis, however. Maria is an evil double of her human counterpart who works to destroy the people of Metropolis, while Monae's Mayweather is a champion of her people/robots, a group Monae calls "the Other."

Each of Monae's albums contain spoken interludes that bring home the sci-fi theme, but most of the songs stand alone as joyful anthems of individuality and forward progress. For instance, check out Project Q.U.E.E.N.: A musical weapons program in the 21st century. Researchers are still deciphering the nature of this program and hunting the various freedom movements that Wondaland disguised as songs, emotion pictures, and works of art. 

But wait... is that frozen android moving?


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