Janelle Monáe ≠ Lady Gaga

After reading some comments on various sites that have been promoting Janelle Monáe's fantastic new album The ArchAndroid, I noticed a budding trend. The trend is people referring to Monáe as "the Black Lady Gaga." Just stop. Right now.

Aside from being really off-the-mark and narrow-minded, a statement like this is absurd. Leave Gaga to her empty fame and decadent artifice and (extremely popular) club songs. Leave Monáe to her trippy, cybertronic romanticizing and tuxedo-clad, James Brown sliding. 

I get that because both have an electrifying stage persona to which they are totally committed the connection can be made. Sure they both consider their work "art." But let's not front: Janelle has been doing it longer and better than Gaga. No one is mentioning that. Please stop aggrandizing Gaga's contributions to popular culture and acting like she's been around long enough to have inspired more than YouTube parodies.

If you really want to take it there, and I suspect you don't, it's more like Lady Gaga is the white Janelle Monáe. But instead of digressing into a battle of originality or launching fully into racial politicking (full disclosure: I'm tempted), how about we allow them to both to make and perform their music irrespective of each other. There's much more logic and enjoyment in that.

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24 Responses

  1. I've read a couple of comments on blogs comparing the two as well. I think Janelle said it best in an interview when she said that Lady Gaga's music is fun. Janelle's music is fun but more importantly deep. Every song has so much meaning while Gaga's music is just mindless club music.
    My other pet-peeve in the blogs about Janelle is people who haven't heard the album calling her illuminati.

  2. im over lady gaga and her fucked up outfits and mediocre songs...sorry
    janelle monae is a cornball to me...again sorry

  3. The black lady gaga? hell do they call gaga the irish madonna? I mean after all gaga aint doing shit but bitting Madonna from 25 years ago. Gaga cant even compare to Janelle vocally or talent wise, now if this was crotch flashing / going out in public without panties contest then gaga would win in a landslide:-)

    • I think the comparison is way off, but, the upside is this type of exposure may open up Lady Gaga audiences to Janelle Monae... This could really work out in her favor. Janelle Monae will convert them all once they see what's what.

  4. The comparison is lame and completely baseless.
    Lady Gaga is a very successful commercial pop songwriter who launched her own very career on a platform of insincere artifice and all the "world, look how weird I am" sentiments of a high school sophomore. Every move seems calculated and forced.
    To me, Janelle Monae's sci-fi funk universe is more fully realized. There's a depth to her affectations that feels like we're seeing and hearing the real Janelle.
    Lady Gaga = artifice
    Janelle Monae = art
    Add up all those hit Gaga singles and their collective power is no match for Tightrope.

  5. I soooo agree with you, wholeheartedly. They talk about Lady Gaga as if Gwen Stefani wasn't doing similar stuff a while back, not to mention, Kelis.

  6. Gaga fakes weird, Janelle really is weird.

  7. The majority of those comments probably come from teens. You have to have had some experience in life to FULLY appreciate Monae's music. You would also have to have been around to see Madonna to know that Gaga is a blatant swagger jacker. I don't find anything "wierd" about Janelle. She shines in the same outfit everyday and she sings about real life. Gaga is trivial.

  8. On the real are they serious? Lady Guacamole is as forced as they come. Before she was famous she was selling herself as the dark haired piano framming Vanessa Carlton/Fiona Apple hybrid. Then she TRYS to put on thiswalking Warholian Ziggy stradust Grace JonesJones Madonna persona when in all realness is just a low rent Elton John with Marilyn Mason shock tendencies. Janelle is who she isand doesn't have a put a ruby encrusted toliet bowl on her head to get people to notice her unlike Gags

  9. wow. they aren't even on the same planet. if anything, lady gaga is the white grace jones. can i get an amen?

  10. I don't think either of them are that vocally talented as I read in previous comments. Janelle is more of a female Andre 3000 to me. Mos def she is a better artist. Music has more substance. I dont really find it deep tho. maybe its just me.

  11. djskytunes........what the hell are you talking about? "I don't think either of them are that vocally talented as I read in previous comments." If Janelle Monae isn't all that gifted vocally, then please let me know who is. And although I despise her music & gimmickry, Lady Gaga CAN actually sing. listen to her acoustic version of "Poker Face" if you don't know what I'm talking about.

  12. janelle monae is so amazing she can't be real. i've been waiting for a musician like her for years. i can admit to enjoying lady gaga's catchy and almost addictive songs, but she is in no way, shape, or form anything like janelle monae. if anything she should aspire to be more like janelle monae.

  13. Sounds like someone woke up on the wrong side of the 8-track player...they're both great, they both have a lot to contribute, and a lot of people find comfort in labeling and compartmentalizing...just breathe and let it a little too. That'll help. "Bad Romance" AND "Tightrope" defy anyone to stay still for long...

  14. jj - labeling and compartmentalizing in this context is for simpletons. calling monae "the black lady gaga" is illogical and inaccurate. and telling those who recognize this to "breathe and let it go" is dismissive and silly.

  15. UH OH I smell gang fight brewing between the monsters and the droids.

  16. I definitely feel as though lady Gaga is faking weirdness just to get a reaction. Babybruh was on point with his description of her. While I think she can actually sing, I just don't feel her music. She simply does not move me except to horrify me with her videos. Those I find disturbing. I saw Janelle open for Raphael Saadiq and the girl has some serious vocal chops. I love her talent but I also get a female Andre 3000 vibe from her and I'm not sure that her "weirdness" is sincere either. Has anyone heard her first album, Audition? The songs on that album sound more like regular R&B joints. I do wish her the best though. Let's not forget that she is on Badboy. I just hope that she survives the aftermath of that situation.

  17. I ain't even gonna justify this one beyond saying "I ain't even gonna justify this one".

  18. Comparing Janelle Monae to Lady Gaga is like comparing a novel with real, yet weird human beings with depth and meaningfulness to a novel with sparking vampires and werewolves.
    You got your sci-fi that could happen and sci-fi that will never happen... unless you like sparkling vampires a lot. Most of these kids like sparkling vampires. Damn kids.

  19. I think gaga gets too much play. I will see comments on Grace Jones videos comparing lgg to Grace Jones. No way. She came in on the heels of MIA who is a performance artist and worked hard at a weird image but not much on original sounding music.


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