Oozing energy, fire, protest, and love, Janelle Monáe’s 2018 song “Americans” capped off an amazing album, Dirty Computer — one that was heavily influenced by Prince before his death in 2016.
The song parodies the American nuclear family and religiosity while calling toward a future in which God’s children are treated equally, with references to equal pay and explicit callouts against various forms of bigotry, urging the definition of “American” to become encompassing enough for the dream of the nation to be fully realized.
Performed live on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert shortly after its release, Monáe and her fellow performers take over the place, and her chops as a performer are on full display as she sings, dances, emotes, and dodges fallen mic stands with grace and flair.
Written in A, the song’s dramatic use of a G#minor gives it an unexpected hook, with the rest of the tune flowing around this sonic boulder.
Monáe is also an accomplished actress, performing in Moonlight, Hidden Figures, and most recently Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. She has an onscreen presence that’s hard to resist. She identifies as non-binary.
Here’s to a year of expanding freedoms and improved self-governance.