Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Janelle Monáe ft. Grimes – Pynk

Those pants get a [10] though.


Leah Isobel: Seeing Janelle Monae do something this explicitly, unavoidably gay is fabulous. Her clipped, coy phrasing in the verses gradually opens up, persuading the production to follow suit, until the chorus hits with a beaming “YEAHHHHH!” accompanied by an equally joyful guitar riff; that build-and-release structure is candy-sweet and really hard to resist. The accompanying imagery is a little bitter for me. “Pynk” feels so personal, so heartfelt, and so liberating for her that I can’t help but feel like a killjoy when I say it doesn’t fully connect with me. It’s not because it’s a bad song, but because of my creeping suspicion that its vision of utopian womanhood leaves me locked outside its gates. It’s there in the chorus’s color-coded lyrics, the femininity celebrated as uniformly pretty and soft and gentle as the song’s blooping synths. It’s especially there in how the video retrofits the message with Pussy Power and Sex Cells emblazoned across Monae’s body. I can’t fault her for finding joy and freedom in her own reality, but the more I think about it the more I feel like it doesn’t fit in mine. I want to love this song so badly. But I don’t.

Stephen Eisermann: Janelle’s third LP is turning out to be better than I could’ve hoped for and “Pynk” is a goddamn masterpiece. The bubble-gum, electric, R&B fusion complements this celebration of femeninity so well and Janelle gives a terrifically instructive and robotic interpretation. This is pop art at its best — fun, engaging, but, above all, relevant. 

Alfred Soto: I do what I rarely do and watched the video first. I’m glad: it’s a minor masterpiece of queer representation. When I played “Pynk” it didn’t disappoint, it too an excellent queer-refracted take on machine funk, for which Aerosmith should be delighted about sharing writing credit.

Alex Clifton: I can’t remember hearing Janelle Monáe ever so soft and vulnerable, which is lovely — I’d like more of this style (although my favourite Janelle is always going to be when she’s going at five thousand miles an hour). But I’m just not getting this one, I guess. It’s delicate, it’s fine, but the first listen was great and every subsequent listen has been with diminishing returns. But if it works for other people — makes them feel empowered and brave and beautiful — then that’s cool.

Claire Biddles: “Pynk” puts my teeth on edge. Everything here is kind of embarrassing: The neither-here-nor-there production (it’s Grimes! Of course!), the giggly refusal to follow through on the (pretty simplistic) suggestions of lyrical double entendre, the ad-lib sections that are barely worthy of a vocal warmup. It’s tinny and weak and I had to listen to about two hours of Nicki Minaj to wash the sickly taste of it out of my mouth.

Julian Axelrod: Janelle Monae is on an otherworldly hot streak right now, in the sense that her singles sound like intergalactic pop music beamed in from two dimensions over. Consider this: “Pynk” is a surreal ode to cunnilingus that opens with vagina pants and the line “Pink like the inside of your baby,” and it’s probably the most straightforward song she’s released since “Primetime.” But like an (Arch)android who’s finally deciphered human emotion, Monae’s learned how to convey large concepts without sacrificing an ounce of pop magic. Come for the knotty gender musings, stay for the exuberant chorus that transports you to a convertible in the desert, with the wind in your hair and Tessa Thompson by your side.

Edward Okulicz: I’ve usually found Monáe to be fussy and fun-free, with her songs failing to live up to the conceptual highs she must aspire to and seldom having the pop hooks to compensate. “You Make Me Feel” is a wonderful exception, but this one isn’t. There’s a lot going on but it’s fidgety and boring to listen to, despite its queerness, and let’s face it: “Pink” by Aerosmith is a deeply terrible song, even by 90s Aerosmith standards. (Maybe if she’d interpolated “Falling In Love (Is Hard on the Knees”, eh?)

Reader average: [8.33] (9 votes)

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2 Responses to “Janelle Monáe ft. Grimes – Pynk”

  1. Leah said my exact feelings way more eloquently, phenomenal writing!

  2. Seeing her this morning on the Breakfast Club saying “not all women have vaginas” just made this song even better.