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Janelle Monáe - What Is Love

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If you're anything like me, you won't be able to read the title of Janelle Monáe's latest feature without getting Haddaway's 1992 hit (of A Night at the Roxbury Fame) stuck in your head. Don't worry, though—the song itself is catchy enough to serve as the antidote to that insidious earworm. Recorded for inclusion on the soundtrack to animated film Rio 2, this cut finds Monáe plaintively addressing a romantic interest who's painfully far away: “What is Love if it's not with you?” The uncredited producer draws inspiration from the movie's Brazilian setting, incorporating South American rhythms and instrumentation (including my personal favorite, the cuica) into his vibrant beat. Will this record transcend its soundtrack-inclusion status to become a major hit à laHappy? Debate away! Rio II's musical companion piece is set to hit record stores and online retailers Tuesday, March 25, via Atlantic.

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