You know the face but do you know the singer? We all know Janelle Monáe the cover girl, the spokesmodel, the personality — but how many of us know how she sounds? With the release of her hotly anticipated new record The Electric Lady dropping this fall, The Singles Party decided to go beyond the surface and dive into her brand new single featuring Miguel.
Kelly Spoer: Prediction: this will be the wedding song this fall. It also has movie soundtrack potential; with the star-crossed enemies finally realizing that “it’s a prime time for [their] love.” You can see them running in the rain/airport trying to stop the other from making the wrong choice. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. For a song that will be undeniably overplayed it’s a good thing it’s catchy. The beat hooks you immediately and gets you grooving through the whole track. Janelle Monae’s voice sucks you in and takes your breath away, while Miguel’s falls a bit short compared to the lushness of Monae’s. It’s not songwriting genius at work, but packs an emotional punch. The track does dabble in eye-roll territory near the very end where we have Monae speaking over the music in a very dramatic monologue that over uses the word “mysterious.” Overall, it’s a sweet, catchy tune that’s already stuck in my head. Verdict: Add to playlist.
Matt Agosta: Janelle Monae is a seriously talented R&B musician and her voice shines in PrimeTime, but this song sounds pretty pop to me (but I guess there isn’t much of a difference these days). Miguel is someone I usually look out for but his addition in this song doesn’t do much for me. His voice never impressed me like it usually does and it sounds like he was added only because he’s popular at the moment. He never gets to flex his vocal muscle like Janelle does and decides to take the safe route. The drums also over power the vocals at certain points, which really threw me off. The best part of the song is when Janelle and Miguel combine their talents and sing to together but unfortunately this only lasts for a small part of the song. The guitars at the end got me back into it, but since they only last for about ten seconds at the end I was disappointed again. I’m still interested to hear Janelle’s new album, but this song didn’t do anything to up the hype for me. Verdict: One and Done
Jason Kundrath: This one is a no-brainer. “Primetime” is modern take on the classic slow-jam ballad that pairs two of R&B’s most talented up-and-comers, Janelle Monae and Miguel. The song is a win on all fronts. From its deep groove and smokey production, to its simmering vocal performances, the track is undeniably sexy. But the lyric puts it over the top. Never explicit or cheap, it speaks simply to the power and purity of love as a centering force in a world full of distractions, a bit of heaven on earth. So put down your electronic devices for a bit, turn up this track, and get cozy with your significant other. Verdict: Add it to the playlist.
Jason Stives: Janelle Monae has made a profession of dipping into the strangeness of her soulful sound but she proves with her new single “Primetime” that the slow jam approach is just as punctual as the uniqueness that she is known for. Delivering a more than obvious Prince vibe with its background echoes and sonic, window rattling guitar work relying on a simple beat that is more than reserved. Yes, this is the same woman who delivered a genuine all out thumper months back with her Erykah Badu collab “Q.U.E.E.N” but the simplicity allows Monae to flex her vocal talents. The exchange between her and everyone’s favorite stage dive crasher Miguel is perfect giving off a dynamic that keeps the track’s momentum from growing stale. With three songs released now The Electric Lady is definitely going to be one of the most talked about releases of the coming month and if you need to know why this is definitely a…err.. prime example why. Verdict: Add to Playlist
Bill Bodkin: R&B has never been my genre of choice, but damn, you cannot deny how good this song is. Musically, the song is such a throwback to the heyday of good R&B — rhythm, soul, lyrics that mean something. Monae’s vocals are intoxicatingly lush and are unique enough to make her stand out as an individual artist in a sea of faceless crooners. However, “PrimeTime” is not without some warts. Miguel’s addition to the song feels, as Matt Agosta stated, tacked on for popularity sake. I don’t feel his contribution added anything to the song and could’ve been performed by any R&B singer in the scene today resulting in the same sound. Yet, outside of that, this is a “prime” candidate for a smash hit single. Verdict: Add to Playlist.
Final Verdict: We believe in Janelle Monae’s talent and we believe in the smoothness of this slow jam.