WVAU Top Music of 2010: #10

Maeve McDermott, Dan Raby

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#10 Album:
Janelle MonÁe – The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)

I imagine that somewhere in Atlanta twenty-something years ago a mad scientist was trying to create the perfect artist. Stealing DNA from James Brown, Andre 3000 (he‰’s a very forward thinking scientist), Donna Summer, 1920s flappers, and every member of the Animals, he shouts with glee as his creation comes to life. He has done it‰Û_he has created the perfect blend of pop, funk, rhythm and blues, rap, experimental, paisley, and whatever else you can name.

Janelle MonÌÁe is that fascinating specimen. When WVAU first got her debut EP a couple of years back I burned it on my computer and it stuck. With the release of The Archandroid MonÌÁe took her place on the pantheon of the neo-soul, new-urban gods.

I‰’m going to try to explain the plot of the album. Monae plays both herself and the android Cyndi Mayweather. Mayweather lives in a future controlled by the evil Star Commission and the secret time-traveling Illuminati group known as the Great Divide. It is illegal for a robot to love a human, but Mayweather finds herself falling for Sir Anthony Greendown and has to flee from the cyberguards. Caught as she hides in a burlesque bar, Cyndi is tortured and her soul transferred to the present to find refuge in the body of a human musician named Jane. Jane now must try to save the future and destroy the evil society once and for all.

The story‰’s all good, but the songs are where the album shines. To call MonÌÁe a genre-bender is an understatement. If you don‰’t like a style of a song on the album it‰’ll only take about three minutes until you experience a completely different genre. MonÌÁe skillfully is able to evoke classic Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder AM pop with “Locked Inside‰” and then transition into the thirties-era ballad of “Mr. Greendown‰” without flinching. Over the course of the album there are tracks devoted to contemporary R&B (“Tightrope‰” which features Outkast‰’s Big Boi), paisley folk (“Oh Maker‰Û), jittery skeleton cabaret (“Come Alive‰Û) and pure psychedelic haze (“Neon Gumbo‰Û).

The Archandroid was my favorite album of the year. It‰’s got something for everyone. Fingers crossed the fourth chapter of MonÌÁe‰’s saga is this great!


Written by Dan Raby

#10 Song:
Cee-Lo Green – “Fuck You”

My mom can‰’t stop singing this song. Neither can my brother, my roommate, my friends, strangers on the Metro, and evidently the guys responsible for Grammy noms. If my dog started howling Cee-Lo‰’s riffs, I wouldn‰’t be surprised.

Way back in July, “Fuck You‰” hit the airwaves and instantly became a viral sensation. In the Year of the Meme, “Fuck You‰” could have very well bounced around the Internet for a few months before joining Antoine Dodson and the Pants On The Ground dude in the graveyard of Youtube irrelevancy. Yet, while the Bed Intruder song is nowhere to be seen among the best songs of 2010 (thank goodness), “Fuck You‰” is up for a Grammy and sitting pretty on our list. “Fuck You‰” is one of those songs that implants itself in your brain and bounces around your frontal lobes for months and months, helmed by viciously buoyant vocals from one of the strongest and most underrated performers in music today. Cee-Lo Green puts a twist on the R&B tradition with some good ol‰’ profanity, and as many of his jilted Motown predecessors have done before him, Cee-Lo transforms the bitter tale of a young man‰’s misadventures with a gold digger into the best pop song of the year. It was the same deal with Gnarls Barkley mega-hit “Crazy‰” ‰ÛÒ the countless covers simply reinforced how nobody can belt it like Cee-Lo can. Gwyneth Paltrow, back off.


(dig that pink suit!)
Written by Maeve McDermott