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Janelle Monáe shocks ‘Voice’ viewers with sexy, Princely performance

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  • Janelle Monáe
    Janelle Monáe
    American singer

As I’d correctly forecast Monday, the bottom two in this week’s The Voice top 11 results were Sharane Calister and Christiana Danielle, with Sharane eventually going home. It was sad to see the two talented women in jeopardy, but let’s start on a positive note by mentioning a very talented woman and the true winner of The Voice this week: Janelle Monáe, a sexy MF who brought down the house and raised more than a few eyebrows with her results-show performance of the Dirty Computer banger “Make Me Feel,” a song so Princely that it was once (falsely) rumored to be co-written by Prince himself.

The spectacle was racy by Voice standards, as Monáe and her new power generation of sex-shooting, Vanity 6-leotarded backup dancers got funky to lyrics like “You got me right here in your jean pocket/Laying your body on a shag carpet.” As some of the closed-minded, damning tweets below demonstrate, some viewers didn’t think the performance was appropriate for this family-friendly program. But I thought it was awesome. If only the contestants on this lackluster Voice season could be so electrifying and risk-taking.

Dirty Computer is a lock to land on dozens of year-end music critics’ lists, and on the album Janelle, who recently came out as pansexual in Rolling Stone, wears her Prince influence on her glittery purple sleeve. Rolling Stone reported that Prince even “personally blessed the album’s glossy camp tone and synthed-out hooks,” telling Monáe, “That’s what y’all need to be doing.” In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Monáe said Prince was her “Yoda.”

Anyway, back to the Tuesday elimination news that could make doves cry. As per my prediction, neither bottom two contestant was a surprise. Sharane failed to crack the iTunes top 200 last week and still fell outside the top 100 this week with her hoarse performance of Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” Christiana, a usually masterful and fascinating song stylist, simply went too far this week with her near-unrecognizable “Umbrella, which stalled at No. 98. (Meanwhile, Rayshun LaMarr was safe — a rare feat for a contestant who was in the bottom two and saved just the week prior, but singing the right song and having a touching TV moment with a Parkland school shooting survivor clearly helped his cause.)

During the Instant Save sing-off, Sharane still seemed to be suffering from vocal-cord wear and tear as she tackled Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy,” but she did her best, attempting to belt her heart (and throat) out. Doing Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” for her shot at redemption, Christiana once again veered dangerously far from the Twilight love theme’s original melody (her tendency to practically rewrite the songs she covers seriously has me wondering if she’d be better off competing on Platinum Hit), but her performance was undeniably compelling.

Both singers were pitchy tonight, but ultimately I tweeted to save Christiana — because, as her coach Alicia Keys worded it, she’s “a beautiful piece of art, an original, a one-of-one,” and this dull Voice season would be even duller without her. Thankfully, America saved Christiana, but if she wants to survive another week, she better derive inspiration from Janelle and give a fearless performance but also make sure to deliver a solid, memorable melody.

Meanwhile, here’s a question: Is it too late to enlist Janelle Monáe to be the guest mentor on this upcoming Sunday’s American Idol top seven Prince Night?

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