It’s difficult to choose a single song that encapsulates Grace Jones’ music. She isn’t an artist to whom you can listen to one or two songs and be satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, “My Jamaican Guy” and “Pull Up to the Bumper” are great, but they barely scratch the surface of her extraordinary career.
Jones began as a high fashion model–unsurprisingly, given her thin, androgynous looks and razor-sharp cheekbones. In 1974 she transitioned into music, releasing several pretty straightforward disco albums. It wasn’t until her 1980 album Warm Leatherette that Jones came into her own. Her music became a lot stranger with her switch to New Wave: “Private Life,” for example, turns the Pretenders’ song into a meditative, reggae-tinged groove. During the verses, a high-pitched, alien sounding vocal echoes Jones’ signature monotone.
But, of course what makes Grace Jones so amazing is not her music alone, but the entire package: her looks, her voice, her persona. Jones’ entire being is her art. She melded high fashion and avant-garde art with pop music. She broke down gender barriers, terrified a lot of men, and at 68 she is still going strong.
Now, kickstart your weekend by watching Jones explain some very simple concepts about gender, sexuality, and humanness to a very clueless white dude: