Q.U.E.E.N. (feat. Erykah Badu)

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YouTube Uploader: Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe - Q.U.E.E.N. feat. Erykah Badu - Directed By ALAN FERGUSON

"The Electric Lady" on iTunes http://smarturl.it/theelectriclady
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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Q.U.E.E.N. (feat. Erykah Badu) on Wikipedia
"Q.U.E.E.N."
Single by Janelle Monáe featuring Erykah Badu
from the album The Electric Lady
ReleasedApril 23, 2013 (2013-04-23)  United States
Recorded2012
Genre
  • Pop
  • Soul
  • Hip-Hop
Length05:10
Label
  • Wondaland
  • Bad Boy
Writer(s)
  • Janelle Monáe Robinson
  • Kellis Parker Jr.
  • Roman GianArthur Irvin
  • Nathaniel Irvin III
  • Charles Joseph II
Producer(s)
  • Nate "Rocket" Wonder
  • GianArthur
  • Monáe
  • Chuck Lightning
Janelle Monáe chronology

"Q.U.E.E.N." is a song by American psychedelic soul and R&B singer Janelle Monáe featuring neo soul singer Erykah Badu. It was released on April 23, 2013 as the lead single from Monáe's second studio album, The Electric Lady. Unlike Monáe's previous singles, "Q.U.E.E.N." goes deeper into her concept of self-perception. Stylized in the form of question and response, each line of the song has Monáe expressing her thoughts on subjects ranging from sexuality to religion. Prince, a mentor to Monáe, called the music video for "Q.U.E.E.N." the best music video of 2013.[1] Many music critics praised the single while also praising Monáe's boldness and creativity.

Contents

  • 1 Background
  • 2 Song info
  • 3 Critical reception
  • 4 Music video
  • 5 Live performances
  • 6 Track listing
  • 7 Charts
  • 8 References

Background

Following the release of her critically acclaimed album, The ArchAndroid, Janelle Monáe went on tour to support the album. While on tour, she began painting on stage during performances with many of the paintings being of women's figures. This is how the concept of her next album, The Electric Lady, came about. With a new album on the horizon, Monáe decided to take on a new direction. While The ArchAndroid focused on Cindi Mayweather's journey as she ran from persecution for falling in love with Anthony Greendown, The Electric Lady puts the focus on Cindi and Monáe's influence over women and more importantly women's rights.

Song info

According to Monáe on her Twitter page, "Q.U.E.E.N." was inspired by "private discussions between her and Erykah Badu," and "is meant to make you jam, dance, funk out and dialogue later."[2] While the album focuses on the empowerment of women and the need for women to control their own images, the single "Q.U.E.E.N." focuses on the empowerment of other oppressed peoples as well as women. The title is an acronym for Queer, Untouchables, Emigrants, Excommunicated, and Negroid.[3] Throughout the song, Monáe uses a question-answer format to explain the stereotypes, misconceptions, and oppression of those in the queer community, untouchables (those in poverty), emigrants (those who were forced to leave their home countries due to dangerous/unlivable circumstances), the excommunicated (those who have served/continue to serve time in prison), and the negroid (black people of all origins).

Monáe uses various terms and phrases from queer slang in the beginning of the song. She opens the song with, "I can't believe all of the things they say about me, walk in the room they throwin' shade from left to right. They be like 'ooh, she servin' face,' and I just tell 'em cut me up and get down." Both phrases throwing shade and serving face are phrases used by many in the queer community, especially in the African-American gay community. She also alludes to lesbian references later in the song when she sings, "Hey, is it weird to like the way she wears her tights?" and, "Am I a freak because I love watchin' Mary?" Monáe then juxtaposes these references with religion by asking, "Hey brother can you save my soul from the devil?" and, "Hey sister am I good enough for your heaven? Will your God accept me in my black and white? Would he approve the way I'm made or should I deprogram, reprogram and get down?" Her reason for putting these together is to show how many use religion to oppress those in the queer community.[4]

Erykah Badu sings the bridge of the song, which serves as a wake up call to many. She sings to the oppressed peoples, "Here comes the freedom song, too strong we movin' on," as a way to give them comfort and let them know she and Monáe are here for them. She continues, "Maybe this melody will show you another way. Been judged for far too long, come home and sing your song. But you got to testify, because the booty don't lie." Her lines are filled with phrases used by those in the African-American community, but can also be applied to other oppressed peoples who share similar struggles in America.

The climax of the song showcases Monáe's rapping talents as she delivers verse after verse about the treatment of the aforementioned oppressed peoples. With the rap portion of the song, Monáe sums up what she has been trying to convey throughout the rest of the song just in case her message was misinterpreted by the listener. She raps, "Are we a lost generation of our people? Add us to equations but can never make us equal. She who writes the movie owns the script and the sequel. So why ain't the stealing of my rights made illegal?" Taking on the concept of wealth and income inequality, she continues, "They keep us underground working hard for the greedy, and when it's time to pay they turn around and call us needy." She later raps, "March through the streets cause I'm willing and I'm able, categorize me I'll defy every label," criticizing those who wish to categorize her. Finally, she brings the song to a close with, "And while you sellin' dope, we gone keep sellin' hope. We risin' up now you gotta deal, you gotta cope. Will you be electric sheep, electric ladies will you sleep? Or will you preach?" calling out to like-minded women who wish to help wake up those who are unconscious to the oppression of themselves and/or others.

Critical reception

"Q.U.E.E.N." has been cited by many music critics as one of the highlights from The Electric Lady. The song has been discussed in many blog discussions and has been used as a source for debate when talking about oppression, female empowerment, the fights for LGBTQ and African-American rights, and various other causes related to the song's content.

Music video

A music video for the song, directed by Alan Ferguson, was released on May 1, 2013. It features Janelle Monáe as herself in the future. She, along with her band members and Badoula Oblongata (Badu), have been frozen in time and placed on display in the Ministry of Droids museum. They are all described as "rebels who time travel," by a representative for the Ministry of Droids at the beginning of the video. Two women dressed in black arrive to the museum and knock down the guards. They then put on Monáe's song, "Q.U.E.E.N." and within seconds, Monáe and her band begin to reanimate. As well as portraying herself in the video, Monáe also portrays her android persona Cindi Mayweather. Cindi along with her android sisters dance and question each other throughout the song. Towards the end of the video, Monáe delivers her climactic rap wearing her tuxedo "work uniform." The camera focuses in on her as she raps and then cuts to black immediately after she finished.[5]

Writing for Billboard, Gregory DelliCarpini Jr. said of the music video, "Channeling the retro swagger of Elvis’s “Jailhouse Rock” video, Monae jams while surrounded by six dancing ladies rocking bold black-striped looks. Janelle contrasts the backup dancers in a solid look while getting her groove on in a puffy sleeved white shirt and black second skin pants paired with fierce metallic Givenchy heels."[6]

Live performances

Mon`ae first performed the song live at the 2013 BET Awards along with Erykah Badu to critical acclaim.[7] She has also performed the song at the 2013 iTunes Festival in London.[8]

References

  1. ^ Wochit (January 1, 2014). "Prince Declares Janelle Monáe Had The Best Album And Music Video Of 2013". Yahoo. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Janelle Monae on Twitter". Twitter. April 22, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  3. ^ Benjamin, Jeff (September 18, 2013). "Janelle Monae Says "Q.U.E.E.N." Is for the "Ostracized & Marginalized"". fuse. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ Sieczkowski, Cavan (September 12, 2013). "Janelle Monae Discusses Gay Rumors, Lesbian-Tinged Lyrics In 'Electric Lady'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Janelle Monáe - Q.U.E.E.N. feat. Erykah Badu [Official Video]". YouTube. May 1, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  6. ^ DelliCarpini Jr., Gregory (May 2, 2013). "Janelle Monae’s Erykah Badu-assisted “Q.U.E.E.N.” Video: Style Breakdown". Billboard. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Janelle Monae Closes The 2013 BET Awards With Erykah Badu With "Q.U.E.E.N."". Theybf.com. July 1, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Janelle Monáe - iTunes Festival 2013". jmonae.com. 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Q.U.E.E.N. - Single by Janelle Monáe feat. Erykah Badu". Amazon.com. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Q.U.E.E.N. - Remixes by Janelle Monáe feat. Erykah Badu". iTunes. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
   

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