Janet (album)

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"Janet." redirects here. For other uses, see Janet (disambiguation).
janet.
Studio album by Janet Jackson
Released May 18, 1993 (1993-05-18)
Recorded Flyte Tyme Studios
(Edina, Minnesota)
Genre
Length 75:23
Label Virgin
Producer Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson, Jellybean Johnson
Janet Jackson chronology
Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814
(1989)
janet.
(1993)
The Velvet Rope
(1997)
Alternate cover
2-Disc Limited Edition
Singles from janet.
  1. "That's the Way Love Goes"
    Released: April 20, 1993
  2. "If"
    Released: July 13, 1993
  3. "Again"
    Released: October 12, 1993
  4. "Because of Love"
    Released: January 18, 1994
  5. "Any Time, Any Place"
    Released: May 23, 1994
  6. "Throb"
    Released: June 18, 1994
  7. "You Want This"
    Released: October 11, 1994
  8. "Whoops Now"
    Released: January 31, 1995
  9. "What'll I Do"
    Released: February 2, 1995

Janet (stylized as janet.) is the fifth studio album by American recording artist Janet Jackson, released on May 18, 1993, by Virgin Records. Prior to its release, Jackson was at the center of a high-profile bidding war over her recording contract. In 1991, her original label A&M sought to renew her contract, while others, such as Atlantic, Capitol, and Virgin all vied to sign her. After meeting with Virgin owner Richard Branson, she signed with the label for a $40 million contract, making her the world's then-highest paid musical act.

Criticism that her success in the music industry was attributed to being a member of the Jackson family and producer-dependent artist prompted her to take greater creative control of her new album. Its title, read "Janet, period.", is meant to disassociate her public image from her family, dropping the Jackson surname. She wrote all lyrics for the album, in addition to co-producing every song and co-writing each of their arrangements with record producers and long-time collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. While the use of contemporary R&B and rap had been standard in her music, she broadened her compositions by incorporating hip hop, opera, house and jazz, eliminating the rigid, industrial sound found in her previous records. Although considered to be less innovative than previous releases, critical reception was predominately positive. In light of the fact that she composed much of the album's material and took a greater role as producer, Janet has been credited as a truer testament of her independence than Control (1986). While she had once garnered a reputation as an advocate for sexual abstinence with her 1986 single "Let's Wait Awhile", the theme of Janet is sexual intimacy—an abrupt departure from her well-known conservative image. Much of the acclaim for the album was centered on her lyrics that emphasized the female perspective on sexuality, as well as the demand for practicing safe sex.

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with the largest first week sales in history for a female artist at the time. It became Jackson's third consecutive album to top the chart, as well as reaching the number one position in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Certified sixfold platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), it sold over 20 million copies worldwide, and is one of the world's best-selling albums. It cemented her as an international icon and sex symbol, and is listed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 200 Definitive Albums of All Time.

Janet produced six top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. "That's the Way Love Goes" became her most successful single in the United States, staying atop the Hot 100 for eight weeks, as well as topping the singles charts in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. It received two Grammy Award nominations in 1994, winning Best R&B Song. Her ballad "Again"—written for the feature film Poetic Justice—also topped the Hot 100 and garnered nominations for the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song.[1][2] Academics have noted that the erotic imagery in her music videos released to promote the album's singles have contributed to a higher degree of sexual freedom among women. The MTV-sponsored Janet World Tour supporting the album received critical acclaim for Jackson's elaborate stage performances, reinforcing her reputation as one of the preeminent artists of the MTV generation. The song "If" was featured in the season two premiere of the Vh1 original series Hit the Floor (TV series) as the Devil girls performed the song as their first dance of the season.

Background[edit]

Rumors of a multi-million dollar bidding war over Jackson's recording contract began to circulate in spring 1991. Jet magazine reported: "A recording company has offered in excess of $50 million to sign superstar Janet Jackson to a recording contract, making the 24-year-old singer/songwriter/dancer/actress the key player in one of the hottest bidding wars among today's major record companies."[3] Reports indicated that Capitol, Virgin and Atlantic were all bidding for Jackson's contract, as her ties to A&M would soon expire; by March, she had signed with Virgin. The New York Times declared "Janet Jackson has signed what is believed to be the most lucrative contract in the history of recording. The 24-year-old singer, songwriter and actress signed an exclusive contract with Virgin Records it was announced yesterday."[4] Her new contract guaranteed a twenty-two percent royalty payment, in addition to her then-historic signing bonus.[5] Chuck Philips of the Los Angeles Times reported that it had been the largest bidding war in recent memory and that "[o]ne reason the bidding was so heavy, various industry observers have noted, was that Jackson-at just 24-is still a relatively fresh face on the pop scene and that her dance-pop style is ideal for today's pop/video climate."[6] In addition, her potential as an international superstar proved to be the primary motivation for the label's investment. Jeff Ayeroff, co-managing director of Virgin in the US stated: "Janet is a world-class artist and we expect her growth to be enormous."[6] Chairman Richard Branson spoke with Jackson privately to seal the deal. He commented: "A Rembrandt rarely becomes available... When it does, there are many people who are determined to get it. I was determined."[6]

Stephen Holden of The New York Times criticized the contract amount, considering it a gamble for Virgin. He stated that Jackson "is a producer-dependent artist—i.e., someone who relies on others to make her sound interesting and trendy. She also lacks a sharply defined personality, both as an artist and celebrity. Where singers like Ms. Houston and Mariah Carey have commanding vocal power, Ms. Jackson's is a relatively indistinguishable studio voice."[7] Richard Branson rebutted this argument stating "Ms. Jackson has met with great success working with the production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, just as her brother Michael Jackson has experienced his greatest successes with the producer Quincy Jones. It is interesting that Mr. Holden doesn't mention this similar 'liability' when discussing Michael Jackson. To say that Ms. Jackson is 'dependent' on her producer is a shortsighted observation. She is a formidable talent who stands on her own."[8] Michael Jackson would break his sister's record only days later, when he signed a $60 million contract with Sony Music Entertainment. Both sibling's contracts garnered considerable criticism. Los Angeles Times reported that "A&M Records President Al Cafaro, whose company lost the fierce bidding battle over Janet Jackson to Virgin Records, said record companies may be vesting too much importance in individual performers" as the funds used as advances to the Jacksons could have launched recording careers for numerous unknown talents.[9] Cliff Burnstein of Q-Prime management commented that recording artists demands for advances upon signing would begin to escalate from that point forward.[5]

Prior to her first release with Virgin, Jackson was asked by Jam and Lewis to record a song for the sound track to the feature film Mo' Money, released in 1992 by their label Perspective Records. Jon Bream of the Star Tribune reported: "For most movie soundtracks, producers negotiate with record companies, managers and lawyers for the services of big-name singers. Like the Hollywood outsiders that they are, Edina-based Jam and Lewis went directly to such stars as Janet Jackson, Luther Vandross, Bell Biv Devoe, Color Me Badd and Johnny Gill."[10] Jackson and Vandross recorded the duet "The Best Things in Life Are Free", which peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Hot R&B Singles chart.a[›] Shortly afterward, Jackson began filming for her first feature length role in John Singleton's Poetic Justice. Although she was encouraged by a major studio executive to take on a film in which she could portray a singer, she insisted on finding a different role. She explained: "About that same time John Singleton asked me to read his new script. John and I became buddies—I loved Boyz N the Hood—so I thought he was just asking my advice. I was shocked and honored to learn the screenplay had been written with me in mind. 'Would you play Justice?' he wanted to know. Yes! I'd finally found a role—a dramatic nonsinging role—that was right."[11] Released in July 1993, Poetic Justice debuted at number one at the box office, grossing $11,728,455; it grossed a grand total of $27,515,786.[12]

Conception[edit]

Sex isn't just fire and heat, its natural beauty. Doing what comes naturally. It's letting go, giving and getting what you need. In the age of AIDS, it certainly requires being responsible. On a psychological level, though, good sex, satisfying sex, is also linked with losing yourself, releasing, using your body to get out of your body. Well, for the first time, I'm feeling free. I love feeling deeply sexual—and don't mind letting the world know. For me, sex has become a celebration, a joyful part of the creative process.

Janet Jackson, Rolling Stone, 1993[13]

After writing songs with themes of independence for Control and social injustice for Rhythm Nation 1814, Jackson desired to devote her new album to love and relationships, describing the theme of her new album as "intimacy" and that "[s]exual communication is the name of the game."[13] She stated in an interview with David Wild for Rolling Stone that "[w]hile I was doing Rhythm Nation, I was thinking about how things were so hard, so regimented and so black and white ... I thought I'd do something on the sexy side—which is hard for me since I grew up as a tomboy and don't really think of myself that way. But I think this album is more on the feminine tip."[14] She also commented on how her experience acting in Poetic Justice played a role in taking a new direction with her music. Speaking with biographer David Ritz, she stated that "Rhythm Nation was a heavy record, and Poetic Justice was a heavy movie. I wanted to do something lighter but also daring ... When I wrote the album, I was still in a poetic frame of mind, inspired by Maya's beautiful language. You can hear that inspiration or the interludes and especially on the song 'New Agenda.' This time I felt much freer expressing myself."[13]

Titling[edit]

Despite the critical and commercial success of her two previous albums, Jackson continued to receive numerous comparisons to her brother Michael, often with doubts that she held staying power in the music industry. When Edna Gundersen of USA Today questioned her about the subject, she responded: "Certain people feel I'm just riding on my last name ... That's why I just put my first name on janet. and why I never asked my brothers to write or produce music for me."[15] Virgin Records expressed the album title "punctuates the declaration of strength the singer, songwriter and producer boldly expresses on this moving collection of songs which explore love, sensuality, the power of sisterhood and her own evolving self-identity."[16] Thomas Harrison, author of Music of the 1990s (2011) wrote that "[t]he conscious decision was made, by the company and/or Jackson, to put her into the same league as other one-named artists, such as Madonna, Bono, and Prince, or at least to put her on the same standing as others in the industry who are often called by one name, such as Whitney, Mariah, Diana, Dolly, and Garth among others. Jackson could now, in a sense, stand on her own and not be seen as a product of the family entertainment machine."[17] Sal Cinquemani of Slant magazine recounted the title of the album ultimately "announced the singer as completely independent of her male-dominated family [and] it positioned her as the person in charge of her sound."[18][19]

Production[edit]

The album was produced at Flyte Tyme studios in Edina, Minnesota. Songs on the album, with the exception of "What'll I Do", were written by Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and mixed by Steve Hodge and Dave Rideau; "What'll I Do" was written and produced by Jackson and Jellybean Johnson. Jackson took a larger role in songwriting and production than she did on her previous albums. She explained that "[a]ll my records are personal, and janet, is the most personal of them all. That's why this time around it was important for me to write all the lyrics and half of the melodies."[13] Jam described the record as being "a more mature album musically."[20] David Ritz noted that Jackson and her producers took risks by experimenting with musical influences that had not appeared in their previous work. He explained: "She asked Kathleen Battle and Public Enemy's Chuck D to contribute—an opera diva and a hardcore rapper, two artists one would not associate with Janet—and somehow pulled if off. Beyond Jam and Lewis, there's now a recognizable Janet Jackson production style that's gutsy and, in some cases, even eccentric."[13]

"That's The Way Love Goes" contains a sample loop of "Papa Don't Take No Mess" written by James Brown, Fred Wesley, Charles Bobbit, and John Starks.[21] The song "Again", was originally just an experimental sound the production duo was considering.[22] While Jackson found its melody compelling, the trio did not give the song serious contemplation until the film producers from Poetic Justice requested a ballad for the films soundtrack.[22] Jackson subsequently wrote the lyrics for "Again" and shaped them around Jam's melody.[22] The song was arranged by Lee Blaskey and accompanied by members of the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.[22]

Release and promotion[edit]

Rolling Stone cover[edit]

In September 1993, Jackson appeared topless on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with the hands of her then-husband René Elizondo, Jr. covering her breasts. The photograph is the original full-length version of the cropped image used on the cover of the Janet album, shot by Patrick Demarchelier.[23] In the cover story, "Sexual Healing" by David Ritz, Jackson explained, "sex has been an important part of me for several years. But it just hasn't blossomed publicly until now. I've had to go through some changes and shed some old attitudes before feeling completely comfortable with my body. Listening to my new record, people intuitively understand the change in me".[13] Ritz likened Jackson's transformation to Marvin Gaye as he stated, " just as Gaye moved from What's Going On to Let's Get It On, from the austere to the ecstatic, Janet, every bit as serious-minded as Marvin, moved from Rhythm Nation to Janet, her statement of sexual liberation".[13]

The image was cropped to show only Jackson's face on the album cover, and midriff in the interior booklet. The full version appears as the cover of the limited edition double disc edition of the album, as well as the video compilation Janet released later that year. Sonia Murray of The Vancouver Sun later reported, "Jackson, 27, remains clearly established as both role model and sex symbol; the Rolling Stone photo of Jackson ... became one of the most recognizable, and most lampooned, magazine covers of the year".[24]

Singles[edit]

"That's the Way Love Goes", the album's lead single entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number fourteen and peaked at number one.[25][26] The single was certified gold by the RIAA on November 12, 1993.[27] Virgin records intended for "If" to be the lead single for the album, but Jackson, Jam and Lewis disagreed.[21] "That's the Way Love Goes" remained at number one for eight weeks—the most successful chart performance of any member of the Jackson family.[21] The single earned a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.[28] "If" was released as the album's second single and peaked at number four on the Hot 100, receiving gold certification on September 28, 1993.[26][29] "Again", peaked at number one on the Hot 100 on December 11, 1993 and topped the chart for two weeks.[22][26] The single was certified gold and then doubled to platinum by the RIAA on December 17, 1993.[30] The single earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.[31] "Because of Love" reached number ten, but was not certified by the RIAA.[26] "Any Time, Any Place" peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and was certified gold on July 11, 1994.[26][32] "You Want This", the album's final commercial single for the United States, peaked at number eight on the Hot 100 and was awarded gold certification on December 6, 1994.[26][33] The album has a hidden track, "Whoops Now", which was released as a single in selected territories in 1995.

Videography[edit]

Jackson's music video for "If" was staged as a futuristic Asian nightclub, with spy cameras monitoring the intimate interactions of patrons within their private boudoirs.[34] The video is an elaborate metaphor for the single's message of sexual fantasy, desire and voyeurism.[34] The video was directed by Dominic Sena, who previously worked with Jackson on music videos for Rhythm Nation 1814. René Elizondo, Jr. directed the videos for "That's The Way Love Goes", and "Again". Videos for "Any Time, Any Place" and "You Want This" were directed by Keir McFarlane.

Janet World Tour[edit]

Main article: Janet. World Tour

Jackson embarked on her second world tour in support of her debut album with the Virgin Records label. Costumes and wardrobe for the tour were designed by stylist Tanya Gill, with outfits "rang[ing] from pipebone vests with high-heeled moccasin boots to zoot suits top-hats to circus-ringmaster bustiers."[35] With a show encompassing over 100 costumes, a team of over 50 costume makers was led by wardrobe supervisor, Helen Hiatt.[35] The tour's debut concert was held on November 24, 1993 in Cincinnati, Ohio.[36] Jackson held a four show engagement at Madison Square Garden which began on December 17, 1993, with the final performance held on New Year's Eve.[37] Michael Snyder of the San Francisco Chronicle described Jackson's stage performance at the San Jose Arena in February 1994, as what erased the line between "stadium-size pop music concerts and full-scale theatrical extravaganzas".[38]

The one-hour-and-45-minute performance was so tightly choreographed—down to two built-in pauses for "tears" at overwhelming waves of crowd adoration and a contrived bit of seductive repartee with a handsome, buffed hunk plucked from the front row for the ode to lust, "Any Time, Any Place"—that it breezed by like a glitzy Vegas revue or a television variety show.[38]

—Michael Snyder, San Francisco Chronicle

Her performances also garnered criticism. Renee Graham of The Boston Globe commented that her stage show at Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts on June 20, 1994, proved her limited vocal range as "[t]he numerous costume changes, pyrotechnics and the dancing all but overshadowed her razor-sharp seven-piece band and three back-up singers", asserting Jackson was a better performer and entertainer than she was a vocalist.[39] However, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Steve Pick observed Jackson's stage show at the Riverport Amphitheatre on July 12, 1994, made the Janet album's numerous hit singles more effective with her "larger-than-life stage persona".[40]

Commercial reception[edit]

Janet debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts, it was the first time in history a female artist debuted at number one of the SoundScan era; with the largest first week sales in history for a female artist at the time with 350,000 units sold in its first week.[41][42] The album also gained much success worldwide, debuting at number one in the United Kingdom,[43] New Zealand,[44] and Australia.[45] It also debuted in the top 10 in Sweden,[46] The Netherlands,[47] Canada (with 65,000 copies sold at the first week[48])[49] and Switzerland.[50]

Janet was first certified gold by the RIAA on August 8, 1993 denoting 500,000 units shipped within the United States.[51] The same day, the album's certification was raised to 3× platinum, denoting 3,000,000 units shipped.[51] On November 17, 1993, Janet received 4× platinum certification and was later awarded 5× platinum on December 17, 1993.[51] The following year on April 12, 1994, the album was certified 6× platinum.[51] Other certifications include a Double Gold certification in Finland,[52] a 2× Platinum certification in the UK And Australia,[53][54] a Platinum in New Zealand[55] and a Gold certification in Norway.[56]

According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has sold 7,035,000 million copies in the United States since its release,[57][58] and has achieved worldwide sales of 20 million copies,[59] thus becoming one of the best selling albums worldwide and being the best selling album of her career. It is the fourth best selling R&B album of the soundscan era and the best-selling by a female solo artist.[57]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[60]
Robert Christgau A–[61]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[62]
Entertainment Weekly C+[63]
Los Angeles Times 2.5/4 stars[64]
NME 8/10[65]
Q 2/5 stars[66]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[67]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[68]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[69]

Rolling Stone magazine declared "[a]s princess of America's black royal family, everything Janet Jackson does is important. Whether proclaiming herself in charge of her life, as she did on Control (1986), or commander in chief of a rhythm army dancing to fight society's problems (Rhythm Nation 1814, from 1989), she's influential. And when she announces her sexual maturity, as she does on her new album, Janet., it's a cultural moment."[67] Claiming the album should bring her critical praise, the magazine concludes its review with the statement "[t]he princess of America's black royal family has announced herself sexually mature and surrendered none of her crown's luster in the process. Black women and their friends, lovers and children have a victory in Janet."[67] Robert Christgau originally gave the album an "honorable mention" in consumer guide for The Village Voice, wherein he complimented its erotic songs and cited "Funky Big Band", "Throb", and "Be a Good Boy" as highlights.[70] Billboard magazine gave a positive review, stating "[d]estined to be an instant smash, Ms. Jackson's latest is a glamorous assortment of styles—pop, dance, R&B, rock, jazz, rap—each delivered with consummate skill and passion.[71] Janet is described as "a career-defining record earning Janet the right to operate on a first-name basis."[71]

Michael Snyder of the San Francisco Chronicle lauded the album's content, stating "[t]his 75-minute opus, her first effort under a megabuck contract with the Virgin label, could be the make-out album of the '90s ... a silken soul odyssey, charting one woman's journey to emotional and sexual fulfillment through 10 songs and a series of spoken-word and ambient snippets."[72] Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian declared the album's "luxuriant collection of house, soul and pop is her best yet. Cod-Madonna throwaways like Throb aside, there are surprises all over the place. Public Enemy's Chuck D counterweights Jackson's sugared vocal to stunning effect on a black-pride anthem, New Agenda; soprano Kathleen Battle turns the heavyweight funk of This Time into something eerie and beautiful."[73]

Robert Johnson of San Antonio Express-News praised Jackson and her producers for taking a chance on a new sound. He wrote: "Under the enormous pressure of her $40 million deal with Virgin Records, Jackson had to deliver something big enough to put her on a first-name basis with the world ... 'janet.' isn't perfect, but it should be enough to make her the Queen of Pop."[74] "Dammit, Janet!," marveled Melody Maker. "The last Jackson hero(ine) has carried peacock feathers to the dance. Holier than Mahalia."[75] "janet. will please most people," remarked The Daily Telegraph, "because it is crammed with the sort of tender, joyous pop music that lingers long after smarter records have been forgotten."[76]

Steve Pick of St. Louis Post-Dispatch stated that although Jackson may not be the greatest singer or songwriter, but she has nonetheless "created and projected a persona that is irresistible. Part of it is a sexual allure, but more of it is the way she demands and receives attention."[77] John Mackie with The Vancouver Sun reported the album gives Jackson an "incredible style", proclaiming Janet as "the best commercial album so far this year, an album that could well vault her past the stumbling Madonna as Queen of the charts. Heck, she might even outsell Michael with this one."[78] "While her brother loops the loop on Planet Pepsi, it's hard to imagine the spotlight ever shifting to his sassy sis," remarked NME, "but this modern hunk of an album should redress some of the balance."[79]

Jay Cocks of TIME magazine offered a mixed review, stating "[f]or all its sass, there is something a little too careful about this album: the rhythms are too studied and studiobound, the sexiness slightly forced. It's as if Jackson, aware that this was her premier effort under a new, $40 million record deal, felt weighed down by the burden of proving herself. When, however, she kicks loose on What'll I Do, a nifty, '60s-style soul stirrer, it's clear that Jackson's got nothing to prove to anyone, including herself."[80] Jon Pareles of The New York Times compares Jackson to her brother Michael and Madonna, stating "Jackson's real strength, abetted by Jam and Lewis, is the way she tops dance-club rhythms with pop melodies. Less up-to-the-second than Madonna but still effective, the Jackson team has obviously been listening to the competition. Madonna's 'Justify My Love' echoes in 'That's the Way Love Goes,' and 'If' resembles Michael Jackson's 'Why You Wanna Trip on Me,' starting with screaming guitar and a chanted verse, rising to a sweet melody."[81] He also comments that despite its shortcomings, "[t]he album's not about being real; it's about seamlessness and ingenuity, about giving the public something it can use. For a superstar, Jackson is downright selfless, but she gets the job done."[81]

Chris Willman of the Los Angeles Times gave an unfavorable review. Although sex in popular music is considered a standard concept, Willman states the only reason the album would cause a reaction is because of Jackson's well-known conservative nature. He comments: "So be it. Jackson's first album in four years is destined for a long ride at No. 1, not because it's any great piece of work, but largely for its aphrodisiacal aspirations."[64] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly stated that "[i]f musical variety and daring lyrics were all that mattered, janet. would make the grade. But the album has a lot to prove. It is the first delivery under her $40 million contract with Virgin, and its title—which translates as 'Janet, period'—is meant as a declaration of independence from her oddball siblings ... She still sounds like a young woman from a male-dominated family who is searching for her identity and voice. Mostly, though, janet. sounds like a mess—period."[63] David Sinclair of The Times wrote: "In the steamy, post-Madonna climate of the 1990s, Jackson is not about to let thoughts of love get in the way of the mechanics of lust, and like many of her superstar contemporaries she tends to confuse sex with soul."[82]

Accolades[edit]

Jackson received five nominations for the 1994 American Music Awards: Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist, Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist, Favorite Pop/Rock Album and Favorite Soul/R&B Album for Janet, and Favorite Soul/R&B Single for "That's the Way Love Goes".[83] The same year she received two Grammy Award nominations—Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female and Best R&B Song for "That's The Way Love Goes"—winning Best R&B Song. Several critics asserted she was unjustly overlooked in the Grammy's three major categories: Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year.[84] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune stated, "Jackson again was denied a nomination for album of the year, even though 'janet' (Virgin) has remained in the Top 10 since its release last summer and has been critically acclaimed."[85] He adds that "the oversight is doubly vexing, because [Jackson]—in a songwriting and production partnership with Jimmy Jam (aka James Harris III) and Terry Lewis—is not just a multiplatinum pop act but an artist who has reshaped the sound and image of rhythm and blues over the last decade."[85] Kot laid blame to the oversight on the fact that many believed her to be a producer-dependent artist—an opinion he found to be in error. Similarly, producer Jimmy Jam stated: "It's easy to say that the two albums she did before she met us weren't successful and when she got with us she became successful ... 'Control' was the first album she actually had input. I think that's just as significant as the fact we (Jam and Lewis) did the record."[85]

Retrospective reviews[edit]

Later reviews were generally positive. In a retrospective review, Christgau gave Janet an "A–" and said that although the costly production by Jam & Lewis makes the music sound "more pornographic than obscene", "this achievement is Janet's, period ... Better nose than Michael, better navel than Madonna, better sex than either."[61] Laura Sinagra wrote in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) that with janet, Jackson "took more risks" lyrically than on her previous albums.[68] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine notes that the album "was at the forefront of the increasingly popular sampling trend in the '90s, with one song even employing three different samples as its foundation. Some make perfect sense on a thematic as well as sonic level, like Kool & the Gang's "Kool It (Here Comes the Fuzz)" and Stevie Wonder's "Superwoman, Where Were You When I Needed You" on "New Agenda," or the orchestral flourish from Diana Ross & the Supremes' "Someday We'll Be Together" on "If," which seems to exist for the sole purpose of providing the impetus behind one of the greatest dance-break routines in music video history."[69] Commenting on the album's broad range, he states: "The mother of eclectic, genre-hopping records by Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, and Fergie, janet. incorporates new jack swing, house, pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, and even opera, but the album's range of styles isn't jarring in the least ... Janet has never been one thing and janet. is a feminist statement, to be sure."[69] Alex Henderson of Allmusic offered a positive review, saying "[a]nyone who expected Jackson to top Rhythm Nation—her crowning achievement and an incredibly tough act to follow—was being unrealistic. But with janet., she delivered a respectable offering that, although not as strong as either Control or Nation, has many strong points."[60]

Legacy[edit]

Although Jackson had reached superstar status in the US, she had yet to achieve the same level of response internationally. According to Nacy Berry, vice chairman of Virgin Records, Janet marked the first time the label "had centrally coordinated and strategized a campaign on a worldwide basis" which ultimately brought her to a plateau of global recognition.[86] Her historic multi-million dollar contract made her the highest-paid artist in history, until brother Michael renegotiated his contract with Sony Music Entertainment only days later. Sonia Murry noted that she remained "the highest-paid female in pop ... a whirlwind of fashion, personality and slick musical packaging rivaled only by Madonna and Whitney Houston in today's pop pantheon."[24] James Robert Parish, author of Today's Black Hollywood (1995) wrote: "She confirmed her status as today's Queen of Pop when, not long ago, she signed a $35-$40 million recording contract with Virgin Records."[87] Music critic Nelson George noted that while surpassing Michael would be next to impossible, Janet had assuredly reached iconic status. He explained: "What worked for Michael 10 years ago is working for her now ... Michael was clearly the voice of the '80s, those that grew up with him since Motown. And with the themes (independence, social consciousness and up-front yet responsible sexuality) that she's addressing in her albums and the popularity she's enjoying, she could very well be the voice of the '90s."[24]

Rolling Stone's The '90s: The Inside Stories from the Decade That Rocked (2010) documented that she had achieved some level of growth with each of her records, and that with Janet, "[u]sing soul, rock and dance elements, as well as opera diva Kathleen Battle, [she] unleashed her most musically ambitious record, guided as always, by producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis."[88] Richard J. Ripani author of The New Blue Music: Changes in Rhythm & Blues, 1950-1999 (2006) noted that she had led the incorporation of rap into mainstream R&B with a select group of artists, in that "rap music no longer sounded so musically distant to many R&B listeners because many of its traits were commonly heard in songs by mainstream artists such as Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Keith Sweat, and others."[89] Vibe magazine observed that "R&B was omnipresent in 1993. It was a year in which Janet Jackson, at 27, topped the Billboard pop album charts for six straight summer weeks, with her critically lauded, six-times-platinum janet."[90] It became one of only five albums in the history of the Billboard 200—along with Whitney Houston's Whitney (1987), Norah Jones's Feels Like Home (2004), Taylor Swift's Fearless (2008), and Susan Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream (2009)—to debut at number one and remain at the top of the chart for a minimum of six consecutive weeks.[91] It is also only one of seven albums—including Michael Jackson's Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987), Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A. (1984), George Michael's, Faith (1987), Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989) and Katy Perry's, Teenage Dream (2010) to yield a minimum of six top ten hit singles on the Hot 100.[92]

The release of Janet signaled the singer's transformation from conservative teen role model to adult sex symbol. In You've Come A Long Way, Baby: Women, Politics, and Popular Culture (1996), Lilly J. Goren observed that "[Her] 1993 album Janet moved away from politically driven lyrics to songs about love and sex-lyrics that could capitalize on her new sexy, more scantily clad image in MTV music videos. Jackson's evolution from politically aware musician to sexy diva marked the direction that society and the music industry were encouraging the dance-rock divas to pursue."[93] Reporter Edna Gunderson commented: "The woman whose hourglass torso and sensual gyrating have made her MTV's reigning sex kitten is today a vision of wholesome beauty."[94] Professor and social critic Camille Paglia expressed: "Janet's unique persona combines bold, brash power with quiet sensitively and womanly mystery. Her latest music is lightning and moonglow."[13]

Her music videos contributed to a higher degree of sexual freedom among young women, as Jean M. Twenge, author of Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before (2007) wrote: "In Alfred Kinsey's studies in the 1950s, only 3% of the young women had received oral sex from a man. By the mid-1990s, however, 75% of women aged 18-24 had experienced cunnilingus. Music videos by female artists have contributed to the trend, with both Mary J. Blige and Janet Jackson heavily implying male-on-female oral sex in music videos by pushing down on a man's head until he's in exactly the right position."[95] Similarly, Paula Kamen in Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution (2000) states that "[i]n the early to mid-1990s, oral sex even reached mainstream music as politically charged demand of truly liberated women," citing TLC, Mary J. Blige and Janet Jackson as examples of females artist simulating cunnilingus in their videos.[96] Rolling Stone wrote that "she celebrated becoming an erotic being ... [showing] young women a way to have their sexual freedom and their dignity, to have their cake and eat it too."[88] She was named Best Female Singer and Female Sex Symbol by Rolling Stone for the year 1993 in pop music.[97] Goren adds that later pop stars such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Pink would rely on image, sex appeal and choreography as much as musical talent.[93]

Accolades[edit]

Organization Country Accolade Year Source
Grammy Awards United States Grammy Award for Best R&B Song ("That's The Way Love Goes") 1994 [85]
Billboard Awards United States Dance Clip of the Year ("IF") 1994 [85]
MTV Video Music Awards United States Best Female Video ("IF") 1994 [85]
MTV Video Music Awards United States Best Dance Video ("IF") 1994 [85]
Soul Train Music Awards United States Video of the Year ("IF") 1994 [85]
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States "The Definitive 200: Top 200 Albums of All-Time" (ranked 86) 2007 [98]
Rolling Stone United States "100 Greatest Albums of the Nineties" (ranked 58) 2010 [99]
Slant Magazine United States "Best Albums of the '90s" (ranked 78) 2011 [100]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and produced by Janet Jackson, James Harris III and Terry Lewis, except where noted.

No. Title Length
1. "Interlude: Morning"   0:31
2. "That's the Way Love Goes"   4:24
3. "Interlude: You Know..."   0:12
4. "You Want This"   5:05
5. "Interlude: Be a Good Boy..."   0:07
6. "If"   4:31
7. "Interlude: Back"   0:08
8. "This Time" (featuring soprano by Kathleen Battle) 6:58
9. "Interlude: Go On Miss Janet"   0:05
10. "Throb"   4:33
11. "What'll I Do" (written by Jackson, Steve Cropper and Joe Shamwell; produced by Jackson and Jellybean Johnson) 4:05
12. "Interlude: The Lounge"   0:15
13. "Funky Big Band"   5:22
14. "Interlude: Racism"   0:08
15. "New Agenda" (featuring rap by Chuck D) 4:00
16. "Interlude: Love Pt. 2"   0:11
17. "Because of Love"   4:20
18. "Interlude: Wind"   0:11
19. "Again"   3:46
20. "Interlude: Another Lover"   0:11
21. "Where Are You Now"   5:47
22. "Interlude: Hold On Baby"   0:12
23. "The Body That Loves You"   5:32
24. "Interlude: Rain"   0:18
25. "Any Time, Any Place"   7:08
26. "Interlude: Are You Still Up"   1:36
27. "Sweet Dreams" (includes the hidden track "Whoops Now", which starts at 0:34) (written by Jackson) 5:31
Sample credits

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1993) Position
Australian Albums Chart[118] 25
Canadian Albums Chart[119] 9
Italian Albums Chart[109] 63
Japanese Albums Chart[120] 73
Swiss Albums Chart[121] 31
U.S. Billboard 200[122] 4
Chart (1994) Position
Canadian Albums Chart[123] 54
U.S. Billboard 200[124] 8

End of decade charts[edit]

Chart (1990–1999) Position
U.S. Billboard 200[125] 31

Singles[edit]

Year Title Chart positions Certifications
U.S. U.S. Dance U.S. R&B AUS CAN FRA GER NL NZ SWI UK
1993 "That's the Way Love Goes" 1 1 1 1 1 15 9 5 1 11 2
"If" 4 1 3 18 3 63 25 10 8 27 14
"Again" 1 7 19 2 59 29 20 13 20 6
1994 "Because of Love" 10 4 9 25 10 72 23 39 19
"Any Time, Any Place" 2 1 37 6 20 13
"Throb" ^^ 2
"You Want This" 8 9 9 16 15 90 37 11 14
1995 "Whoops Now" ^^ 49 5 38 1 15 9
"What'll I Do" ^^ 14

Chart procession[edit]

Preceded by
Pocket Full of Kryptonite by Spin Doctors
Smash by The Offspring
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
June 20, 1993 – July 4, 1993
February 26, 1995 – March 5, 1995
Succeeded by
Led Zeppelin Remasters by Led Zeppelin
Hi Fi Way by You Am I
Preceded by
Pocket Full of Kryptonite by Spin Doctors
New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart number-one album
July 4, 1993 – July 11, 1993
Succeeded by
The Ultimate Experience by Jimi Hendrix
Preceded by
Automatic for the People by R.E.M.
UK Albums Chart number-one album
May 29, 1993 – June 12, 1993
Succeeded by
No Limits by 2 Unlimited
Preceded by
The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album by Whitney Houston / Various Artists
U.S. Billboard 200 number-one album
June 5, 1993 – July 10, 1993
Succeeded by
Back to Broadway by Barbra Streisand
Preceded by
Fever for Da Flavor by H-Town
U.S. Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums number-one album
June 5, 1993 – June 22, 1993
Succeeded by
Menace II Society by Various Artists

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

^ a: Formerly titled "Hot R&B Singles", the chart is now known as "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs"

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Bronson, Fred. The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits. Billboard Books, 2003. ISBN 0-8230-7677-6
  • Halstead, Craig. Cadman, Chris. Jacksons Number Ones. Authors On Line, 2003. ISBN 0-7552-0098-5
  • Ripani, Richard J. The New Blue Music: Changes in Rhythm & Blues, 1950-1999. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2006. ISBN 1-57806-862-2

External links[edit]