Every media outlet, newspaper, magazine and blogger with a keyboard has already published their “best of” list for 2010. Now, I’ll annoy you with MY choices!
THE BEST: Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid: A stunning album, continuing a thematic trilogy started with Monae’s 2009 EP. In context, the songs are all about Monae’s alter ego, the android Cindy Mayweather. But they’re timeless songs that mix classic R&B with futuristic sounds. There were several really amazing, mindblowing songs here: Cold War, Locked Inside (recalling Stevie Wonder), 57821, and the catchiest shoulda-been-a-hit of the year, Tightrope, a song I’m still not tired of hearing and that will be a classic for years to come.
The true centerpiece for me is Oh, Maker, a song loaded with imagery (is she singing to her lover? Her creator? God?) which starts quietly and eloquently and soon soars with Monae’s voice. The only mystery to me: How did this not become a huge hit in 2010?
This album woke up my ears and created a hybrid out of different styles in a way I haven’t been excited about since the heyday of Prince (with Wendy and Lisa’s influence) and Michael Jackson’s initial pop albums. And that’s saying something.