Song of the Day #936: ‘Tightrope’ – Janelle Monáe

For the past 36 years, Village Voice has released their year-end “Pazz & Jop” poll, a compilation of top albums as voted by over 800 music critics. And while some of their selections are on the pretentious side, they actually have a pretty great track record when it comes to naming the top album of the year.

Artists who’ve had an album in the #1 spot over the past few decades include Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. In fact, I don’t see a weak pick in the history of the poll (you can see all the winners here).

For the past 31 years, the publication has also released a list of the best singles of each year to accompany the album list, honoring songs as varied as Public Enemy’s ‘Fight the Power’ and Hanson’s ‘MMMBop.’

This year the album of the year is, predictably, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the single of the year is, perhaps also predictably, Cee-Lo’s ‘Fuck You.’ Two fine picks, close to the top on my personal lists as well.

For the rest of this week I’m going to feature three songs in the ‘Pazz & Jop’ top ten singles list that I hadn’t heard of prior to its release.

Kicking things off is Janelle Monáe, whose single ‘Tightrope’ earned the second spot on this year’s list. I’ve heard Monáe’s name but I don’t know much about her music. This is a great R&B song with an irresistible video.

Despite the Kid ‘n’ Play hairdo, Monáe is extremely cute and she has some excellent dance moves. This is the sort of discovery that has me curious about the rest of the album. These Pazz & Jop people seem to know what they’re talking about.

LISTEN TO THE SONG HERE

Whoaaa
Another day
I take your pain away

Some people talk about ya
Like they know all about ya
When you get down they doubt ya
And when you dip it on the scene
Yeah they talkin’ bout it
Cause they can’t dip on the scene
Whatcha talk about it
T-t-t-talkin’ bout it
When you get elevated,
They love it or they hate it
You dance up on them haters
Keep getting funky on the scene
While they jumpin’ round ya
They trying to take all of your dreams
But you can’t allow it

Cause baby whether you’re high or low
Whether you’re high or low
You gotta tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
T-t-t-tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)

Baby, baby, baby

Whether you’re high or low
(High or low)
Baby whether you’re high or low
(High or low)
You got to tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
Now let me see you do the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
And I’m still tippin’ on it

See I’m not walkin’ on it
Or tryin’ to run around it
This ain’t no acrobatics
You either follow or you lead, yeah
I’m talkin’ bout you,
I’ll keep on blaming the machine, yeah
I’m talkin’ bout it,
T-t-t-talkin’ bout it
I can’t complain about it
I gotta keep my balance
And just keep dancin on it
We gettin funky on the scene
And you know about it,
Like a star on the screen
Watch me tip all on it

Then baby whether I’m high or low
(High or low)
Baby whether you’re high or low
(High or low)
Ooh, you gotta tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
Yeah, tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)

Baby, baby, baby

Whether you’re high or low
(High or low)
Baby whether you’re high or low
(High or low)
Tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
Baby let me see you tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
And I’m still tippin’ on it

Big Boi
You gotta keep your balance
Or you fall into the gap
It’s a challenge but I manage
Cause I’m cautious with the strap
Doing damage to your canvas thta a doctor cannot patch
See why you don’t want no friction
Like the back of a matchbook
That I pass as I will forward you
And your MacBook
Clothes shows will shut you down
Before we go-go backwards
Act up, and whether we high or low
We gonna get back up
Like the Dow Jones and NASDAQ
Sorta like a thong in a ass crack,
Come on

I tip on alligators and little rattle snakers
But I’m another flavor
Something like a terminator
Ain’t no equivocating
I fight for what I believe
Why you talkin’ bout it
S-s-she’s talkin’ bout it
Some callin’ me a sinner
Some callin’ me a winner
I’m callin’ you to dinner
And you know exactly what I mean,
Yeah I’m talkin’ bout you
You can rock or you can leave
Watch me tip without you

N-N-Now whether I’m high or low
(High or low)
Whether I’m high or low
(High or low)
I’m gonna tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
MMMMMM
(Tip, tip on it)

Baby, baby
Whether I’m high or low
(High or low)
High or low
(High or low)
I got to tip on the tightrope
(Tip, tip on it)
Now baby tip on the tightrope

You can’t get too high
(You can’t get too high)
I said you can’t get too low
(We can’t get too low)
Cause you get too high
(You can’t get too high)
No you’ll surely be low
(No, you’ll surely be low)
1, 2, 3, Ho!

Yeah, yeah
Now shut up, yeah
Yeah, now put some voodoo on it
Ladies and gentlemen the funkiest horn section in Metropolis
Yeah, oh
We call that Classy Brass!

Ohhhhhhh
OH!

Do you mind?
If I play the ukulele
Just like a little lady
Do you mind?
If I play the ukulele
Just like a little lady
As I play the ukulele
If I play my ukulele
Just like a little lady

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #936: ‘Tightrope’ – Janelle Monáe

  1. Dana says:

    I must admit that I went in wanting to dislike this song, probably because it was being touted by the pretentious Village Voice, but damn if it isn’t a pretty infectious song, and she is quite striking–definitely a presence.

  2. Clay says:

    Well, the poll is just compiled by Village Voice, not created by them, so at least some of the hundreds of critics are bound to not be pretentious!

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