The Best Music You’ve Never Heard: Janelle Monáe’s BaBopByeYa

Note: This was originally posted in 2011, but I felt compelled to update this and publish as a new post. I LOVE this song, and I want everyone else to love it too. Simply put, this album (along with Quadron’s self-titled debut and the Internet’s Purple Naked Ladies Bonus EP)1 and renewed my hope in R&B.

Original Post (with small updates and new footnotes) – July 11, 2011:

janelle monaeI’ll admit it; I was late to the Janelle Monáe train. When she released “Tightrope” in early 2010, I was like “ehh”. Fortunately, the good people at Soulbounce got it right, and covered Monáe in their “End of 2010” posts. I checked out a few of her tunes, realized what I was missing, and headed straight to the iTunes store to get a copy of The ArchAndroid.

I remember being physically moved by the romanticism of “Say You Go”; the majestic nature “Suite II Overture”; the old school vibe of “Locked Inside“. My kids and I danced2 to “Tightrope” every weekend. Those songs had regular recurrences on my iPod playlists3. For some reason, I was lukewarm on “BaBopByeYa”. For some reason I just didn’t “get it”… it was just too complex for me.

“BaBopByeYa” is like the Moby Dick on [The ArchAndroid].
– Chuck Lightning (Producer, The ArchAndroid)

Well, I lucked on a video where Monáe and her production team explained the genesis and meaning of “BaBopByeYa”; it’s a beautiful and wonderfully magnificent song (the “Moby Dick” of The ArchAndroid). With this understanding, the song has new significance to me. The producers and song writers can do better justice than my words can; watch the video, then peep the track, my thoughts, and the lyrics after the bounce.

Wow. Some random thoughts…. this song is over 30 years old… the lyrics are amazing (especially once you translate the Spanish)…  three movements… the melodies perfectly fits her voice… and again, the lyrics are amazing (“like a lonely matador at night…. Fighting in the darkness for the light”).4

[1st movement:]
The only love my heart approaches
Your tender eyes fill mind with roses
I drink your wine
And never will my heart dry inside
Or be denied

Walking like a lonely fool in Prague
Singing a love song and the words I wrote
I wrote for two

Gentle as a lullaby at night
I hear you humming private melodies
You’re near

Where are you my darling?
Can you hear me calling?

Rewind the clock, our time’s approaching
Give us the eyes to guide us most when
We have no light to see throughout all our darkest days
And troubled ways

[2nd movement:]
Ojos miran hacia la luna
Evitan un mundo tan triste
Dominado bajo el odio
Donde el amor no existe
Dame en su reino refugio
De la oscuridad peligrosa
Espero en la esquina, Querida
Busco la llamanda amorosa

Eyes look to the moon
Avoid a world so sad
Ruled under the hate
Where there is love
Give me refuge in his kingdom
In the dark dangerous]

I hope in the corner, Dear
Seeking the love Call us

Like a lonely matador at night
Fighting in the darkness for the light
I won’t stop until I hear the call of love…

And when I’m alone, you are near to me
You have made a home in my memory
There you will abide for forever
And I will keep you warm in the night

[3rd movement:]
In the face of an awful danger
he risks his life to save her
Lowly manger
Arms of strangers
To me
Allude me
Pursue me

I heed echos of your laughter in the corners of my mind
While I memorize each detail of your intricate design
In your hair there is a symphony
Your lips, a string quartet
They tell stories of a Neon Valley Street
Where we first met
now somewhere time pursues us
As we love in Technicolor
But I dwell in silence on your words
Which move me like none other
This time I shall be unafraid
And violence will not move me
this time we will relax
This time we will stay in our movie
I see beyond tomorrow
This life of strife and sorrow
My freedom calls and I must go

Janelle Monáe – BaBopByeYa



  1. It’s not coincidence that I like these artists. The Internet’s Syd the Kid has talked at length about how Quadron and Janelle Monáe EPs were a common interest between her and Matt Martians (The Internet’s keyboardist). In recent years, Quadron has toured with The Internet, and Coco O. (Quadron’s vocalist) has appeared on a few of their tracks. Janelle also makes an appearance on The Internet’s latest release (Ego Death).
  2. Speaking of dancing, Janelle kills it in this performance in Norway.
  3. These songs are still in heavy rotation on my iPhone – along with “Sincerely, Jane” (from the Metropolis EP) and everything from The Electric Lady.
  4. Also check out the version that was recorded with the Emory University Symphonic Orchestra.

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