For aintasuperhero, Janelle Monae’s “Cold War” in the style of pop-folk.
Sigh. Okay. Where to begin.
This was significantly harder than I had expected, for many reasons. One, I respect the ever-loving bejeezus out of Janelle Monae, so I was loathe to touch any of her work. Two, “Cold War” is one of her most personal songs, to the point where she’s cried in the middle of it performing it live on more than one occasion. Three, the song is about her experience growing up as a young black girl, so the idea of taking this personal song and translating into a genre dominated by mostly Scandinavians… yeah. This was a challenge. I almost didn’t do it.
Then I decided, the worst that’ll happen is it’ll just be bad. I can deal with bad.
Pop-folk, from my EXPERT ANALYSIS, is dominated by quirk. Accordions, makeshift percussion, and a definitive “live” sound. So I started there. Toy piano, percussion literally banged out on my desk, a shaker I made out of an empty coffee can and a packet of ramen. I decided to drive everything with an acoustic guitar, and settled on a rhythm that had me change the time signature from 4/4 to 6/8.
It was at this time I realised I haven’t played guitar in months.
On top of that, I decided off the bat to not use her acapella out of respect, which meant I had to record the vocals myself. Now, pop-folk vocals tend to be rather clear, and light. My voice doesn’t do that, so after like an hour of trying I said “the hell with it” and did what was comfortable. At some point, the track started taking on a vaguely Celtic feel, so I let that happen too.
I still had fun working on it! It challenged a lot of parts of the process, which means this project is working. In two weeks: Hopefully an easier song! Tell me what to make!
If you can’t tell already, I don’t know what to make of this track. I think it sounds as good as I could make it given the constraints I gave myself, but I don’t know how good that is. What do you think?