Q.U.E.E.N. (Janelle Monáe song)

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Janelle Monáe - Q.U.E.E.N..png
Single by Janelle Monáe featuring Erykah Badu
from the album The Electric Lady
ReleasedApril 23, 2013 (2013-04-23)
  • Nate "Rocket" Wonder
  • GianArthur
  • Monáe
  • Chuck Lightning
Janelle Monáe singles chronology
"We Are Young"
"Special Education"
Alternative cover
Remix EP cover
Remix EP cover
Erykah Badu singles chronology
"See Thru to U"

"Q.U.E.E.N." is a song by American recording artist Janelle Monáe featuring the singer Erykah Badu. It was released on April 23, 2013 as the lead single from Monáe's second studio album, The Electric Lady. Unlike Monáe's previous singles, "Q.U.E.E.N." goes deeper into her concept of self-perception. Stylized in the form of question and response, each line of the song has Monáe expressing her thoughts on subjects ranging from sexuality to religion. Prince, a mentor to Monáe, called the music video for "Q.U.E.E.N." the best music video of 2013.[1] Many music critics praised the single while also praising Monáe's boldness and creativity.

Song info[edit]

According to Monáe on her Twitter page, "Q.U.E.E.N." was inspired by "private discussions between her and Erykah Badu," and "is meant to make you jam, dance, funk out and dialogue later."[2] While the album focuses on the empowerment of women and the need for women to control their own images, the single "Q.U.E.E.N." focuses on the empowerment of other oppressed peoples as well as women. The title is an acronym for Queer, Untouchables, Emigrants, Excommunicated, and Negroid.[3] Throughout the song, Monáe uses a question-answer format to explain the stereotypes, misconceptions, and oppression of those in the LGBT community, untouchables (those in poverty), emigrants (those who were forced to leave their home countries due to dangerous/unlivable circumstances), the excommunicated (those who have served/continue to serve time in prison), and the negroid (black people of all origins).

Monáe uses various terms and phrases from LGBT slang in the beginning of the song. She opens the song with, "I can't believe all of the things they say about me, walk in the room they throwin' shade from left to right. They be like 'ooh, she servin' face,' and I just tell 'em cut me up and get down." Both phrases throwing shade and serving face are phrases used by many in the LGBT community, especially in the African-American gay community. She also alludes to lesbianism later in the song when she sings, "Hey, is it weird to like the way she wears her tights?" and, "Am I a freak because I love watchin' Mary?" Monáe then juxtaposes these references with religion by asking, "Hey brother can you save my soul from the devil?" and, "Hey sister am I good enough for your heaven? Will your God accept me in my black and white? Would he approve the way I'm made or should I deprogram, reprogram and get down?"[4]

Music video[edit]

A music video for the song, directed by Alan Ferguson, was released on May 1, 2013. It features Janelle Monáe as herself in the future. She, along with her band members and Badoula Oblongata (Badu), have been frozen in time and placed on display in the Ministry of Droids museum. They are all described as "rebels who time travel," by a representative for the Ministry of Droids at the beginning of the video. Two women dressed in black arrive to the museum and knock down the guards. They then put on Monáe's song, "Q.U.E.E.N." and within seconds, Monáe and her band begin to reanimate. As well as portraying herself in the video, Monáe also portrays her android persona Cindi Mayweather. Cindi along with her android sisters dance and question each other throughout the song. Towards the end of the video, Monáe delivers her climactic rap wearing her tuxedo "work uniform." The camera focuses in on her as she raps and then cuts to black immediately after she finished.[5] Writing for Billboard, Gregory DelliCarpini Jr. said of the music video, "Channeling the retro swagger of Elvis's "Jailhouse Rock" video, Monae jams while surrounded by six dancing ladies rocking bold black-striped looks. Janelle contrasts the backup dancers in a solid look while getting her groove on in a puffy sleeved white shirt and black second skin pants paired with fierce metallic Givenchy heels."[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Critics wrote positive reviews of the song. Will Hermes of Rolling Stone gave 3.5 stars saying it was "an anthem of self-determination with a funkadelicious bass line, it downshifts into soul jazz midway through, with Erykah offering Badu-ist perspective ("Booty don't lie!"). Then Monáe transforms into a superhero MC to take it home.[7]" Afropunk wrote "Q.U.E.E.N. does a good job of breaking free of the duality of the black and white Janelle wears proudly.[8]"

Live performances[edit]

Monáe first performed the song live at the 2013 BET Awards along with Erykah Badu to critical acclaim.[9] She has also performed the song at the 2013 iTunes Festival in London.[10]

Track listing[edit]

Q.U.E.E.N. – Single[11]
1."Q.U.E.E.N." (featuring Erykah Badu)5:10
Q.U.E.E.N. – Remixes[12]
1."Q.U.E.E.N. [Tradelove Remix]" (featuring Erykah Badu)5:25
2."Q.U.E.E.N. [The FatRat Remix]" (featuring Erykah Badu)3:30
3."Q.U.E.E.N. [ATFC's Return of the Boom Bap Remix]" (featuring Erykah Badu)6:56
4."Q.U.E.E.N. [Solidisco Remix]" (featuring Erykah Badu)4:22
5."Q.U.E.E.N. [Barjo Remix]" (featuring Erykah Badu)4:31
6."Q.U.E.E.N. [Vindata Remix]" (featuring Erykah Badu)6:18


Chart (2014) Peak
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard) 47


  1. ^ Wochit (January 1, 2014). "Prince Declares Janelle Monáe Had The Best Album And Music Video Of 2013". Yahoo. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  2. ^ "Janelle Monae on Twitter". Twitter. April 22, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  3. ^ Benjamin, Jeff (September 18, 2013). "Janelle Monae Says "Q.U.E.E.N." Is for the "Ostracized & Marginalized"". fuse. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  4. ^ Sieczkowski, Cavan (September 12, 2013). "Janelle Monae Discusses Gay Rumors, Lesbian-Tinged Lyrics In 'Electric Lady'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  5. ^ "Janelle Monáe - Q.U.E.E.N. feat. Erykah Badu [Official Video]". YouTube. May 1, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  6. ^ DelliCarpini Jr., Gregory (May 2, 2013). "Janelle Monae's Erykah Badu-assisted "Q.U.E.E.N." Video: Style Breakdown". Billboard. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  7. ^ Hermes, Will (May 8, 2013). "Rolling Stone review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  8. ^ "Queen does a good job of breaking free". Afropunk.com. May 8, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2016. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  9. ^ "Janelle Monae Closes The 2013 BET Awards With Erykah Badu With "Q.U.E.E.N."". Theybf.com. July 1, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  10. ^ "Janelle Monáe - iTunes Festival 2013". jmonae.com. 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  11. ^ "Q.U.E.E.N. - Single by Janelle Monáe feat. Erykah Badu". Amazon.com. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  12. ^ "Q.U.E.E.N. - Remixes by Janelle Monáe feat. Erykah Badu". iTunes. Retrieved November 10, 2014.