Janelle Monáe "Django Jane"
We already told you about the excellence that is Monae's other new single, "Make Me Feel," but if you missed "Django Jane," please don't sleep on it. Where "Feel" goes full Prince, "Jane" is about the power inherent in womanhood and Black girl magic. With lyrics like "We gon' start a motherfuckin' pussy riot / Or we gon' have to put 'em on a pussy diet" and "Remember when they used to say I look too mannish / Black girl magic, y'all can't stand it," Monáe is at her most personal and most powerful. And you know I am here for when it she shouts out mansplaining by saying "Let the vagina have a monologue." Masterful wordplay, gorgeous music: this is why 2018 is the year of the woman.
Kacey Musgraves "Space Cowboy"
Kacey Musgraves followed Janelle Monáe's suit and also dropped a pair of double A-side singles this week. Her track "Butterflies" is also worth a spin, but "Space Cowboy" caught my attention because of that play on words. It's part of a trend that's regaining popularity in country music called bent phrasing. Its roots run deep, but the way Musgraves delivers the lines space and cowboy, with an exasperated pause in between, sums up how most of us feel about relationships we know are going nowhere fast. No fences aren't always a good thing, as Musgraves illustrates.
On first listen to this song, before seeing the accompanying video, I had visions of RuPaul's Drag Race contestants lip syncing to it in my head. So seeing Leikeli47's video fantasy point to a more muted take of that theme marries the sound with an image. Everything happening here is a love letter to otherness, from the mask to obscure femininity to the embrace of queer dance culture to that Juvenile shout out. The delivery in the chorus also makes me mentally go straight to "It's Britney bitch," both in terms of the plain-spoken reanimation of the word and the dgaf attitude. The tribute within the song to everyone from Grace Jones to Beyonce is icing on the attitude cake.
King Princess "1950"
So you like James Bay, Lorde, and Adele and wish there were a middle ground between all of them? I have to admit, this is one of those songs that appealed to me instantly when I hit play. The musical structure of the chorus makes it so singable. The vulnerability and confidence of the lyrics make it feel like you're living your best life. And the visibility of queer love in a song, with a nod to the days when it was a buried narrative not considered publicly acceptable, is enchanting. Watch out, because this is one of those tracks that sneaks up on you.
Ashley Monroe "Hands on You"
It's been awhile since I heard something sexy come out of country music. They do a lot of things in Nashville, but sex is rarely one of them these days. Ashley Monroe hasn't been one to do what everyone else does though, so it's no surprise that she's the one bucking the system with this piece of hotness. The video is equally not ready for CMT; I'm not even sure you're allowed to show your midriff on that channel. Country radio has a long history of banning songs by female musicians when they talk about sexuality, god I hope that's what Monroe is going for here.
After my first job at MTV working as a music programmer, I can't stop trying to matchmake people with music they might like. So, I wrote a book called Record Collecting for Girls and started interviewing musicians. The Music Concierge is a column where I share music I'm listening to that you might enjoy, with a little context. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or leave a comment below and tell me what you're listening to this week.
Read These Stories Next: