4. Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid
“Whether you’re high or low / You gotta tip on the tightrope.”
One of the most ambitious major-label debuts to come along in years, The ArchAndroid tells the story of Cindi Mayweather, an android on the run in the futuristic city of Metropolis for falling in love with a human. Monae’s voice and scope may invite comparisons to James Brown and Lady Gaga, but Monae has a vision all her own, particularly on the jubilant hit “Tightrope” and the burbling synths of “Wondaland”. Monae’s music is as rich and breathtaking as her album cover and, with any luck, will be treasured for years to come.