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Introduction

Alternative “Kiss” Single Cover, SportsAlcohol.com

“Make Me Feel” Single Cover, Wikipedia.com

In American culture and music, men are expected to perform standards of masculinity, usually associated with a deep vocal tone, a bare face and loose-fitting clothing, and limited movement of body parts such as the hips, thighs, and butt. Prince constantly toyed with these norms and expectations in his music videos and performances throughout his entire four-decade long career. With his use of falsetto, tight, revealing clothing choices, and sensual accentuation of his body in the video, Prince redefined gender and sexuality norms with his 1986 hit, “Kiss.” Deeply inspired by the music and visual aspects of her friend and mentor’s hit single “Kiss,” singer Janelle Monáe echoes this redefinition but alters it to critique 21st century expectations of physical femininity and heterosexuality of Black women in her 2018 tune, “Make Me Feel.” Through unexpected vocal maneuvers and funky, synthesizer-heavy instrumentation coupled with portrayals of gender and sexual fluidity, both Prince and Janelle Monáe create opportunities for Black bodies to exist and thrive outside of restrictive gender and sexuality norms.

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