Cold War (song)

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"Cold War"
Single by Janelle Monáe
from the album The ArchAndroid
Released February 12, 2010
Format Digital download
Genre
Length 3:23
Label
Writer(s)
  • Nathaniel Irvin III
  • Charles Joseph II
  • Janelle Monáe Robinson
Producer(s)
  • Nate Wonder
  • Chuck Lightning
  • Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe singles chronology
"Tightrope"
(2010)
"Cold War"
(2010)
"We Are Young"
(2011)

"Cold War" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe for her debut studio album The ArchAndroid (2010). The song was written and produced by Monáe, Nathaniel Irvin III, and Charles Joseph II. It was released on February 12, 2010 on Monáe's website, one day after the release of The ArchAndroid '​s first single, "Tightrope". "Cold War" was produced as a fast paced rock and new wave track with a futuristic feel and elements of Afro-funk. Its drum pattern has received several comparison to that of OutKast's 2000 single "B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)". Music critics acclaimed the song as one of the best tracks from The ArchAndroid. The accompanying music video was directed and shot by Wendy Morgan at a sanitarium. It features Monáe emoting throughout the video and has been praised by critics as a unique piece of work.

Development[edit]

"Cold War" was co-written and co-produced by Robinson with Nathaniel Irvin III and Charles Joseph II, credited under their production names Janelle Monae, Nate Wonder, and Chuck Lightning.[1] The song was recorded by Control Z and Roman GianArthur at Wonderland Studios in Atlanta, Georgia; it was mastered by Larry Anthony at CO5 Mastering, also in Atlanta.[1] Irvin and Phil Tan edited "Cold War" at Wonderland Studios and Soapbox Studios, respectively.[1] Robinson enlisted several musicians to create the song's overall sound.[1] Irvin provided most of the instrumentation for the song, including the Mellotron, electric guitar, organs, and percussion.[1] Backing vocals for the song were recorded by Robinson and Irvin.[1] Robinson enlisted the Wonderland Orchestra to play the revolutionary strings. Kellindo Parker performs on guitar, lead guitar, guitar (rhythm), and soloist.[1] Grace Shim performed on the cello while Alexander Page provided the violin and viola; Irvin head the string arrangement. YoungPete Alexander performs on the drums.[1]

Music and lyrics[edit]

"Cold War" is a futuristic sounding rock and new wave song that incorporates elements of Afro-funk.[2][3] The song carries an uptempo, anthemic sound that is aided by the frantic, sprinting beats and a stinging guitar solo.[4][5][6] According to Sputnikmusic's Nick Butler, the song's drum track bare a similarity to those used in OutKast's 2000 single "B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad)".[7][8] Monae's vocals on the song have received several comparisons to those of American R&B singer Beyoncé.[9] David D. of The Smoking Section found the lyrics to be about duality, "a cold war of inner strife ... that can be buried under smiles, electric guitars and up-tempo drum patterns."[10]

Release and reception[edit]

Upon its release, the song received general acclaim from critics. "Cold War" was released to Monáe's website on February 12, 2010 and later to other digital retailers on February 23, 2010.[11] Dan Nishimoto of Prefix Magazine offered praise to "Cold War" for "replacing the memory of "Violet Stars Happy Hunting!" with big hooks, bigger smiles ("All the tribes come and the mighty will crumble/ We must brave this night") and a sugar-fueled beat."[12] Matthew Cole of Slant Magazine lauded Monáe's vocals on the track, commenting "that would make Beyoncé jealous."[13] Several music critics, such as PopMatters '​s Quentin B. Huff, NOW '​s Jason Keller and Allmusic '​s Andy Kellman, labelled "Cold War" as the top track on The ArchAndroid.[4][14][15] Joe Rivers of No Ripcord described the song as genuinely thrilling.[8] According to Sputnikmusic's Nick Butler, several songs from The ArchAndroid, including "Cold War" get away with "attempting something that simply should not work, only for her to pull it off."[7] Lorne Thompson of The Digital Fix named "Cold War", along with "Tightrope" and "Sir Greendown", as the album's standout songs.[16]

Music video[edit]

I remember crying during ‘Cold War’ [on the] first take,” she said. “I didn’t know how that happened but it just did. I was very moved by that. It was really a special moment; then everybody else started to cry.”. She further elaborated, "[The video] deals with a psychosis—you’re in my mind and you get a chance to understand Metropolis, where it all stemmed [from] and my thoughts. It’s very psychedelic and trippy.

— Janelle Monáe on the concept of the video.[17]

The music video for "Cold War" was released to Vevo on August 5, 2010. It was directed by Wendy Morgan and shot at the black box auditorium in The Palace of the Dogs sanitarium. The video, which Monáe described as an "emotion picture", features Monáe against a black wall emoting and reacting as the song progresses. During the video, Monáe grimaces, smiles, breaks down, and eventually sheds a tear. Monae described the tears as "spontaneous and triggered a chain reaction."[17] The video received rave reviews by several music critics. Katie Hasty of HitFix called the video "fascinating little artifact of time".[18] Larry Fitzmaurice of Pitchfork Media stated that it was "worth a watch".[19] Robbie Daw of Idolator stated that "Janelle reaffirms the fact that she’s one of the more unique, if not daring, artists out there at the moment."[20]

Remix[edit]

There is one remix of the song titled "Cold War (Wondamix)". Part of this remix can be heard at the beginning of the "Tightrope" music video.

Live performances[edit]

Monae performed a shortened version of the song on February 13, 2011 at the 53rd Grammy Awards, as part of a three-song medley, with B.o.B and Bruno Mars.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of The ArchAndroid, Wondaland Arts Society, in association with Bad Boy Records.[1]

Chart history[edit]

Chart (2010) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[21] 36

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i The ArchAndroid (inlay cover). Janelle Monáe. Wondaland Arts Society, Bad Boy Records. 2010. 
  2. ^ Parales, Jon (May 20, 2010). "Playlist – Vintage Rock and Midlife Heartaches". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Power, Ed (July 29, 2010). "The Archandroid". Hot Press. Hot Press. Retrieved 2 June 2013.  (subscription required)
  4. ^ a b Huff, Quentin B. (May 21, 2010). "Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid". PopMatters. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Purdum, Clayton (June 3, 2010). "Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid". CokeMachineGlow. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Davis, Hays (August 30, 2010). "Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid (Bad Boy/Wonderland Arts/Atlantic)". Under the Radar. Under the Radar Magazine. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Butler, Nick (May 17, 2010). "Review: Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid (Suite II and III of IV)". Sputnikmusic. Sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Rivers, Joe (July 7, 2010). "Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid: Suites II and III". No Ripcord. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  9. ^ Koski, Genevieve (May 25, 2010). "Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)". The A.V. Club. Onion Inc. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  10. ^ D., David (August 6, 2010). "Janelle Monáe – “Cold War” Video". The Smoking Section. The Smoking Section, LLC. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Janelle Monae's Debut Album, "The ArchAndroid", Due in May; First Single, "Tightrope (Feat. Big Boi)", to Arrive via JanelleMonae.com". Hip Hop Press. February 11, 2010. Archived from the original on February 15, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  12. ^ Nishimoto, Dan (May 21, 2010). "Album Review: Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid". Prefix Magazine. Prefix. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  13. ^ Cole, Matthew (May 18, 2010). "Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV)". Slant Magazine. Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  14. ^ Keller, Jason (May 27, 2010). "Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV)". NOW. NOW. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Kellman, Andy. "The ArchAndroid: Janelle Monae". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  16. ^ Thomson, Lorne (June 30, 2010). "Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid". The Digital Fix. Poisonous Monkey Limited. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "Video: Janelle Monáe – ‘Cold War’". Rap Up. August 5, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  18. ^ Hasty, Katie (August 5, 2010). "Janelle Monae gets up close and personal in captivating 'Cold War' music video". HitFix. HitFix.com. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  19. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (August 5, 2010). "Video: Janelle Monáe: "Cold War"". Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  20. ^ Daw, Robbie (August 5, 2010). "Janelle Monae Breaks Down In Tears In Her “Cold War” Video". Idolator. SpinMedia. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Janelle Monáe – Cold War on Ultratip chart". ultratop.be. Retrieved April 5, 2011.