You’d be remiss to ignore the extremely talented women playing at Life Is Beautiful Festival, happening in less than 4 days in Downtown Las Vegas. Today we highlight the cream of the crop: Janelle Monáe, Haim, and Charlie XCX.
Janelle Monáe: Maybe you caught her brief appearance in Fun.’s breakout hit “Tonight”, but Miss Monáe has so much more to offer music lovers. A protege of Outkast and early advocate of the Wondaland Arts Society, Monáe sings powerful funk and R&B enriched by sweeping symphonies, a fiercely rocking back up band, and a healthy kick of subversive messaging.
Her live shows are wild. She wears a tuxedo every day. She has a cybernetic alter-ego known as Cyndi Mayweather. Her albums take place in the futuristic urban dystopia where androids are third-class citizens who exist for the amusement and service of the wealthy elite. And if that premise sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because Monáe’s music is conceptually based on German expressionist Fritz Lang’s 1927 science-fiction epic silent film, Metropolis, and serves as an allegory for the plight of modern black men and women whose culture is commodified for the benefit of the rich. Seriously. These motifs run through each and every one of Monae’s songs and music videos:
Social (and deliciously intellectual) commentary aside, Monáe is a captivating performer with boundless energy, charisma, and talent. She’s worked with every influential black artist from Prince to Big Boi to B.o.B. Her supporting band is a musical force to be reckoned with. Stopping in Las Vegas in the midst of her headlining tour for her latest album Electric Lady (featuring Prince, Erykah Badu, Solange, and Miguel), Janelle Monáe is guaranteed to put on the funkiest set all weekend. You can catch her beforehand on SNL this Saturday. You can also catch her at Nokia Live on Saturday, November 2. Or you could be a seriously smart cookie and do all three.
Haim: Three sisters from Los Angeles and one male drummer, Haim makes 80s-style/R&B-inspired synth pop with mean guitar licks that has caught the attention of some heavy hitters. Danielle, Alana, and Este Haim and Dash Hutton have opened for such varied acts from Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros to Ke$ha, won the BBC Sound of 2013 (the first female act to ever do so), were one of our must see bands at Lollapalooza, and just completed their headlining tour of the US in support of their first full-length album, Days Are Gone. While they commonly draw comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, a few listens reveals an awesomely new wave/Paula Abdul feel to their music. See them Sunday at 3:40 on the Huntridge Stage, if you’re not checking out that other band we recommended in the exact same time slot. Hey, we never said it’d be easy to take in all the great music here.
Charlie XCX: She co-wrote the Icona Pop megahit “I Love It” and has even penned tracks for Britney Spears. Now English singer-songwriter Charlie XCX is touring in support of her proper debut album, True Romance – a critically acclaimed post-modern electro-pop collection that’s as much of a throwback to the 90s as it is a love song to modern pop music. (Why “proper debut album”? Because she wrote her first first album at age 14 in 2006!) Likened to Santigold and Lilly Allen, you’ll want to catch Charlie XCX on Sunday at 2:20 on the Ambassador Stage so you can say you saw her before she became a household name.