Janelle Monáe is an entertainer who sets out to dazzle an audience with everything she does. In the notoriously phoned-in world of late-night performances, she's still finding ways to make people sit up and pay attention. Monáe stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and put on an arresting performance of her Dirty Computer song "Make Me Feel" that managed to pay homage and still somehow be futuristic.
The performance started with a shot that was a blend of Janet Jackson and Prince, with a mirror effect making a desaturated Monáe dance with herself. When the already heavily Prince-indebted song kicked off, the stage exploded in a wash of purple. A troupe of beret-clad dancers walked out into Monáe's hall of mirrors. It was enough to make viewers question what they were seeing, especially at around midnight.
The Prince vibes make a good bit of sense when you understand the role that the late singer played in Monáe's life. He was her mentor and she's admitted in previous interviews that not being able to call him up was a difficult part of making her most-recent album.
"It was very difficult writing this album without him,” she said. "As we were writing songs, I was like, ‘What would Prince think?' And I could not call him. It's a difficult thing to lose your mentor in the middle of a journey they had been a part of."
The left turns continued when the dancers left Monáe alone for a brief cover of James Brown's "I Got The Feelin'."
Check it out up top.