Song of the Week delves into fresh songs we can’t get out of our heads. Find these tracks and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist, and for our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our New Sounds on Spotify playlist. This week, Janelle Monáe goes sensual with the reggae-tinged “Lipstick Lover.”
Janelle Monáe waiting for this moment. In the five years since the singer, songwriter, and actress released her highly conceptual third album Dirty Computer, he starred in TV shows and high-profile films, performed at the Academy Awards, and published his own book. Now, he’s back on the mic for his upcoming fourth album, The Time of Happinessis set to release on June 9.
The second single off The Time of Happiness is “Lipstick lover,” and it’s a seething, sensual turn from Monáe. The laid-back reggae groove complements her silky voice and creates a slow-motion feeling that penetrates and seduces. As always, Monáe shows off her vocal prowess when needed, zipping through expressive pre-chorus runs and letting her ache like taffy. “Lipstick Lover” feels designed for a summer night spent in a jacuzzi; smoke and steam rise to form dazzling shapes, the person you feel more connected to gets closer and closer.
Much of this is also due to “Lipstick Lover’s” joy-filled, NSFW music video. All in all, Monáe sings directly to a naked woman, poses topless with a cigar in hand, is showered with multiple vibrators and dildos, and participates of bacchanalian affairs. There are delicious fruits, bright flowers, crystal blue pools, and many to kiss. All of this is perfectly integrated with Monáe’s mission: there is freedom and comfort in the expression of queer desire, a Black utopia that prioritizes safety and happiness, exploration and liberation.
This is a logical continuation from Dirty Computer, which feels nostalgic and futuristic all in equal measure. But the “Lipstick Lover” doesn’t care so much as it’s looser, looser, and hotter, surrendering to the moment and eager for instant gratification. If “Lipstick Lover” is any indication, she knows how to satisfy her audience — and her lovers — to keep them coming back for more.
— Paul Ragusa