In a more just world, the eclectic and electric R&B singer Janelle Monáe would be every bit as big as forebears turned peers like Prince and Outkast. Her sophomore album The Electric Lady was one of the best of 2013, the rare album that skips from genre to genre without sacrificing quality or cohesion.
Earlier this year, Monáe released a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” that managed to put a unique spin on the classic song while remaining true to its triumphant spirit. The song appears on a Pepsi-sponsored compilation released in conjunction with the World Cup and last night on the eve of the tournament’s kick-off, Monáe gave a riveting performance of the song on the Late Show with David Letterman.
Commanding the stage with grace and authority, Monáe and her backing band sounded as crisp as the all-white suits they were wearing. Dedicating the song to “all the young heroes in the world,” Monáe's consummate professionalism was on display with her light choreography, which never got in the way of her always great sounding vocals.
Her rendition of the song adds a touch of electronic bass but retains all of the original’s rousing power. It’s a tremendous cover that speaks to Monáe's creative versatility and it continues a string of rollicking performances on Letterman, who seems to be a genuine fan.
Check out the performance in the video above. Janelle Monáe is scheduled to play Bonnaroo this weekend, along with a handful of other dates throughout the summer.