Last night at the Viper Room (famous as the venue outside which River Phoenix died), I heard the woman who should sing the next Bond theme song, and her name is Janelle Monáe.
Her set was short, just 5 songs, but it was one of the most energy-packed, blow-your-mind 5 song sets I've heard since, well, ever. I've heard her songs online via MySpace, and I was impressed, but seeing her live is an experience unto itself and not to be missed. She's like a live bolt of electricity on stage, and frankly I'm not sure she could keep maintain it for a 15 song set without just passing out and getting carried off in an ambulance.
The Viper Room's concert hall is tiny, and that was part of the experience. Being able to see her animated expressions, being able to see her dancing like her life depended on it. I'm sure I'll never experience her music that way again. For her last song, she crowd-surfed, and I nearly ruptured my other Achilles trying to help guide her across as she passed over my head.
She has an interesting style (that hair!) and sound, both futuristic yet classical. That's why she'd make a great choice for the next Bond theme song. She can bring some of the Shirley Bassey funk and marry it to a more modern, hip-hop sound. With her interest in science fiction--she references androids in her album cover and some of her songs--she might even be able to write lyrics that incorporate "Quantum of Solace" in an organic way.
Her music is hard to describe. She went from the propulsive drive of "Many Moons" to the hushed emotion of "Smile". My favorite track is "Sincerely Jane". There's funk, hip hop, soul, pop, and bits of other musical goodness in there.
After the concert, we all stared at each other wide-eyed, and then I ran over to the merchandise table to buy her CD, because all I could think was "this girl's going to blow up" and "I need to buy stock in her."
You can buy her CD Metropolis: The Chase Suite or mp3's from Amazon. Here's the rest of her appearance schedule for 2008; those of you in SF, Portland, Seattle, Arlington, NYC, or Chicago should get your tickets now.