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"

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



Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 1:56 PM Scotland’s Attack on the Status Quo Expect more political earthquakes across Europe.
Sept. 19 2014 3:24 PM Why Innovators Hate MBAs
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 3:07 PM Everything Is a "Women's Issue"
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:03 PM Kern Your Enthusiasm: The Ubiquity of Gotham
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.