Janelle Monáe is renowned for being something of an LGBT icon, who unashamedly embraces sexuality and calls out BS over pop hits. Her new release ‘Pynk’—the third instalment of her upcoming album Dirty Computer— absolutely lives up to this, offering a brash feminist statement which is both empowering and ripe for the current political climate.
A collaboration with Grimes, ‘Pynk’ bears striking similarity to the Canadian musician’s distinctive computerised sound, particularly circa Art Angels, the album that gave us the previous collaboration between the two artists. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the track is a pop hit; its robotic verse is followed by a fun, anthemic chorus. The lyrics shamelessly center on the female anatomy and all that it represents, making the song both personal and political.
However, it would be an understatement to refer to ‘Pynk’ as a track alone. The accompanying music video, with credit rightly due to low-profile filmmaker Emma Westenberg, demands respect in itself. The video is a joy to both the eyes and the mind, with a gorgeous pink palette, sandy landscapes and BME women at the forefront. In one scene, the all-female cast is shot poolside- a setting we’ve seen before in music videos- but critically not in a submissive, overly sexualised way suited to the male gaze as we’re used to: this is about ownership and power. The all-female team and casting is a statement in itself; this is a video created by women for women.
The overt visual references to the female anatomy and sexuality throughout the video (think vagina pants, oysters and citrus fruit) complement Monáe’s lyrics, creating something of an entire production dedicated to self-love and sensuality in a way that is (refreshingly) not predominantly male.
With political motifs and quotations (‘I grab back’, ‘sex cells’, ‘pussy power’, etc.), it is no surprise that ‘Pynk’ has been met with great acclaim across the Internet: not only is the track catchy and buoyant, it is significant and extremely timely.