Janelle Monáe delivered a searing rendition of her song, “Turntables,” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Tuesday, March 9th.
The performance found Monáe and her small backing band performing the track in a cavernous warehouse space bathed in pale blue light. “Turntables” swings between a stripped-down march during the verses and a righteous, rave-up chorus, during which Monáe sang, “Hands dirty, mind clean/A different vision with a new dream/We kicking out the old regime/Liberation, elevation, education.”
Monáe wrote “Turntables” for All In: The Fight for Democracy, the documentary about Stacey Abrams and the history of voter suppression in the United States. The track is on the shortlist for Best Original Song at this year’s Academy Awards.
In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, Monáe spoke about making “Turntables,” her first piece of original music since her 2018 album Dirty Computer. “I started thinking about all the people on the front line,” she said. “What could be my gift to them? It was this song to remind them that the tables are turning. We’re seeing that progress is being made, even in the midst of dealing with such traumatic events. We have figured out a way to be the solution. I wanted this to be my gift because revolutionaries need love too. They need inspiration, and they need an anthem. This is my stab at that.”