In 2010, Janelle Monáe broke out like acne on an eighth grader with her robot-obsessed, asexual and surprisingly human R&B record The ArchAndroid
. Filtered through anyone else's vision, such a concept would yield a gimmicky nightmare that would, at best, capture Kraftwerk's coldness. For Monáe, it was the perfect vehicle for her eccentric otherness, like a female Andre 3000, minus the poo-poo jokes. Monáe's next album is in the works; until then, ArchAndroid
and her near-hit "Tightrope" — the most genuinely funky song to ever feature ukulele — have pushed Janelle into the space between the lowest rungs of stardom and the upper echelon of the underground.
Last time: Monáe stunned a Pageant crowd opening for her cohorts in Of Montreal. This go- round, Katy Perry's fans get a taste of Janelle's sass and class.–Ryan Wasoba