Listen to Janelle Monáe's Jazzy, New Age Cover of David Bowie's "Heroes"

Slate's Culture Blog
April 2 2014 8:37 PM

Janelle Monáe Goes New Age With David Bowie's "Heroes"

480591453-clear-channel-presents-an-exclusive-performance-with
Janelle Monáe unleashes her inner Ziggy Stardust in her latest cover.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

The ArchAndroid has met the Thin White Duke. Janelle Monáe today released a cover of David Bowie's classic anthem "Heroes" updated with all the jazzy inflections and neo-soul instrumentations that have become her trademark. It's a bold move: covering Bowie, especially "Heroes," is treading on sacred ground. But Monáe, more than most, is equipped for the task—her cross-genre, future-funk sensibility is very much of a piece with Bowie's legacy of experimentation, and the two musicians are massive fans of each other. That being said, this cover is by no means a worshipful act of imitation. Gone are Bowie's slow-burn delivery and droning guitars; Monáe instead threads her dreamy vocal through waves of crashing reverb and glossy synth chords, and somehow makes this take seem, if not up to the original, at least worth a listen.

Unfortunately, the cut is part of a Pepsi campaign, so it's merely a one-off rather than a harbinger of forthcoming Monáe material. But enjoy.

Sharan Shetty is a writer for Brow Beat. You can follow him on Twitter

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 16 2014 5:47 PM Tale of Two Fergusons We knew blacks and whites saw Michael Brown’s killing differently. A new poll shows the gulf that divides them is greater than anyone guessed.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 5:07 PM One Comedy Group Has the Perfect Idea for Ken Burns’ Next Project
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.