14. Dirty Computer - Janelle Monae (Wondaland/Bad Boy/Atlantic)
If we could step aside from all this album reviewing nonsense for one moment and identify just one actual song that brought more joy in 2018, then it's 'Make Me Feel' by Janelle Monae.
That squelchy, synth intro, her deconstruction of desire and then that powerful chorus ('it's like I'm powerful with a little bit of tender/an emotional sexual bender), and that's all before the Prince-like guitars add to the excitement. There really is no other competition for single of the year.
'Make Me Feel' was also the calling card for the frankly wonderful (and wonderfully frank), album 'Dirty Computer". If Monae had hidden behind the android alter ego, Cindi Mayweather beforehand, this was Monae as herself - and it's remarkable. Once we get past the slightly awkward technical puns of the title track (and yes, that's Brian Wilson singing heavenly harmonies), then the rest of the album is a celebration of her sexuality, gender and race. Albeit set in the shadow repressive Trump regime.
'Screwed' juxtaposes sexual desires with the relentless stench of getting screwed over in society: 'everything is sex, except sex, which is power...you screw me and I'll screw you too...' It's resistance in the face of constant oppression. The song segues into the finest moment on the album, the single 'Django Jane' where she raps and rages against sexism ('...and we're gonna start a motherfucking pussy riot'). It's the album's fiercest moment. It's staggeringly honest.
'Dirty Computer' is a brave and confident concept. It is a declaration of defiance in such a distressing era.
not even the best verion of this brilliant song... try this - better than amazing! reggae mix with the Easy All Stars just don't rate her a 6...
Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]
If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]