Janelle Monae: Six essential tracks you need in your life

Get to know the Electric Lady with our selection of Janelle Monáe's key tracks.

Pop fans may have noticed there's been lots of talk about Janelle Monáe and her forthcoming album Dirty Computer. New tracks, and accompanying electrifying videos, have appeared over the last few weeks, achieving almost universal praise.

Janelle herself is no pop newcomer – she's been around for over a decade and even has a million seller under her belt thanks to a cameo on Fun's Number 1 We Are Young in 2012. But if you're discovering her for the first time and want more, our pick of key tracks might be a good place to start.


The first single from Janelle's debut ArchAndroid, Tightrope introduces you to the idea that Ms Monáe is not like the others. Featuring Outkast's Big Boi, Tightrope showcases Janelle's energy as her speedy vocals dance over the hip-jerking soul beat that starts off fairly stripped back and adds more layers. It's a journey! 

Cold War

If you thought Tightrope was frantic, buckle in. Another track from ArchAndroid, Cold War is relentless, with Janelle's effortless delivery never missing a beat. It's futuristic, rocky, and has about 200 things happening at once, but like the vast majority of Janelle's work, has an important message at its heart. Janelle performed this song as part of a medley with B.O.B and Bruno Mars at the 2011 Grammys and almost stole the show.


Moving on to Janelle's second album The Electric Lady, which was her first Official Albums Chart Top 20, peaking at 14. This lead single, featuring the talents of Erykah Badu, takes its title from Queer, Untouchables, Emigrants, Excommunicated, and Negroid and despite – or maybe because of – its serious message, is an empowering hip-hop soul bop. Janelle's talent is schooling you and keeping you on the dancefloor at the same time.


OK, so now we've established Janelle can help you work up a sweat, but she can slow things down with just as much authority. Miguel guests on this soulful ballad that has hooks and harmonies for days. 

Dance Apocalyptic

Janelle's not afraid to explore her influences and have a bit of fun. This cute, retro tune is a cross between '60s girlgroup classic and Grease soundtrack – high praise indeed. As ever with Janelle, the backing vocals are always worth listening out for. Smash smash bang bang don't stop chilang-a-lang-a-lang. Amazing.

Django Jane

Coming right up to date, Django Jane is one of four tracks we've heard from Dirty Computer so far. While most of the attention has been on the slick, hook-laden funk of Make Me Feel, Django Jane is a powerful statement of intent. Janelle reflects on past critics, her current achievements and the state of the world today, with haters and trolls paid dust in little over three minutes. Boom.

Look back at Janelle Monáe's hit singles and albums in the UK