2010: Janelle Monae
From the vantage point of 2009, Katy Perry looked like 2010's royalty of choice. Yet "California Gurls," really felt like a light refinement of her 2008 splash entry, "I Kissed A Girl." The cupcake bra was the only novel thing we got out of it, which, looking back, resonates like a gag joke—Katy and Taylor hugging it out as Hamburger and Fries.
Hindsight is 2020, and Janelle Monae was the real gift we received in 2010, we just didn't know what we were looking for. I don't think we should blame ourselves... ArchAndroid came on the scene with a certain subtlety, her 1-take video for "Cold War" revealing an authentic intensity we had no idea we were craving, yet. Janelle was ahead of her time—with her pompadour hairstyle and androgynous black-and-white wardrobe, every bat of her eyes ushered in the coming era of #BlackGirlMagic.