Janelle Monáe has covered David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’.
The singer’s version of the 1977 single is being used to soundtrack a global Pepsi Max FutbolNow commercial featuring Monáe on the streets of 2014 World Cup host city Rio De Janeiro, alongside a number of footballers including Robin van Persie, David Luiz, Sergio Agüero and Lionel Messi.
Speaking to NME, Monáe said: “I’m a huge David Bowie lover and comrade and he has been part of my musical DNA for quite some time. The song just emboldens me as an artist and I wanted to embolden the people as well. It makes me feel as though we can break through any chains we may have shackling us as a humanity. It’s very hopeful and inspirational, and I think we can never have enough of that.”
Although David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ only reached Number 24 in the UK singles chart, it has become one of his most iconic tracks and spawned multiple covers, by bands including Oasis, Blondie and Kasabian, whose version was used for ITV’s coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Monáe’s interpretation was recorded at Wondaland Studios in Atlanta and produced by her main collaborators Nate ‘Rocket’ Wonder and Chuck Lightning. While the original was a product of Bowie and Brian Eno’s time in divided Berlin, telling the story of two star-crossed lovers who are briefly reunited across the Iron Curtain, Monáe claims she sought inspiration from Brazil and Georgia, USA.
“We wanted to bring the song down south and we tried to make sure that it felt like we were reimagining it through our eyes, through our lips and through our ears, and also bring Atlanta into it,” she says. “But we love the original so we didn’t want to go too far away from the beautiful melodies and changes that are already in it.”
Monáe is no stranger to comparisons with Bowie, with critics regularly noting that her concept albums and alter-ego (Cindi Mayweather, a messianic time-travelling android) bear parallels.
She said: “I’m flattered by people comparing me to David Bowie, but I’m Janelle Monáe at the end of the day. He’s definitely in my musical DNA and we probably share some of the same aesthetic, but I’m a woman. And I embrace my womanism as much as I possibly can.”