Call on Me (Janet Jackson song)

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"Call on Me"
Single by Janet Jackson with Nelly
from the album 20 Y.O.
Released June 19, 2006[1]
Recorded 2005, at Flyte Tyme Studios
(Santa Barbara, California)
Southside Studios
(Atlanta, Georgia)
Length 3:30
Label Virgin
  • Jermaine Dupri
  • LRoc
  • Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis
  • Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson singles chronology
"R&B Junkie"
"Call on Me"
"So Excited"
Nelly singles chronology
"Nasty Girl"
"Call on Me"

"Call on Me" is a song by American recording artist Janet Jackson with guest vocals from rapper Nelly from Jackson's ninth studio album, 20 Y.O. (2006). It was written by Jermaine Dupri, Johnta Austin, James Phillips, Cornell Haynes, Jr., James Harris III and Terry Lewis, and produced by Dupri, Phillips, Jam and Lewis, in addition to Jackson. "Call on Me" was released as the album's lead single in June 19, 2006 by Virgin Records. It is a mid-tempo ballad which talks about calling on a person when a friend or somebody to listen is needed. The song received mixed reviews from music critics, although some picked it as one of the best tracks on the album, calling it a "lovely and elegant" ballad.

"Call on Me" was a moderate success commercially, becoming her most successful single in some countries since "All for You" in 2001. It peaked at number 25 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Additionally, it spent two non-consecutive weeks at number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, making it Jackson's sixteenth R&B chart-topper. Internationally, the song peaked inside the top-twenty in Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The accompanying music video for "Call on Me" was directed by Hype Williams and took ten days to be completed. It incorporates Indian, Asian, and African styles, with a mixture of outfits and hairstyles. Outfits worn in the video included a specially-designed Kimono, metal corset, and nine-inch platform heels "Call on Me" is one of the most expensive music videos of all time, with a production cost of over $1,000,000 (US). Following its release, it was reported that the video was blacklisted by MTV following her incident at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004, which was co-produced by the network.

Background and writing[edit]

Nelly (pictured) is the featured artist on the track.

After the infamous Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy in 2004, Janet released her eighth studio album Damita Jo the same year. The album debuted at number two on Billboard 200, was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and sold over three million copies worldwide. [2][3][4] However, its singles received minimal airplay due to a blacklist of Jackson's music and videos on many music channels and radio formats caused by legalities surrounding the incident.[5] Jackson then decided to start to work on a new project in the coming year, involving her then-fiancé, record producer Jermaine Dupri, who was commissioned to executive produce the project, in addition to a number of other producers. She decided to create a modern record, while returning to dance music, in the vein of her hit album, Control (1986).[6] Producer Jimmy Jam revealed that while recording the album, Janet became more confident with her writing ability, doing the bulk of the writing. He also commented, "We're all kind of back in there doing it again together, which I really enjoy." It's the physical nature of sitting in the same room and really hashing it out. It's like, 'You're not going to leave until we have a lyric,' so it's fun." Janet and Jimmy both agreed that Dupri molded well into their tri due to him being a fan of Jam and Lewis' work and vice versa.[6]

During the sessions, "Call on Me" was written. For the song, Janet revealed that Nelly and Dupri had been in the studio alone working together, and came up with the record on their own. They called Jackson up, played it for her over the phone, and asked if she wanted to record it. Jackson obliged.[6] Speaking about the song, Dupri said "It's a duet between her and Nelly. It's the jump-off. We don't just have a record that's just a Nelly and Janet record. I believe this record is gonna be one of the biggest records on radio this year. Outside of who it is, it's a well-put-together song."[7] Dupri also commented about Nelly's addition to the song, saying:

"Nelly, I try to do what I do with my friends. Me and him had just come off the success of 'Grillz' at the time I made this record. He was the person on my mind. "Especially since Janet only made records, not to disrespect Q-Tip or Heavy D, but as far as popular rappers in this day and time, Busta Rhymes was the only one. We was trying to go to the radio and not do the typical R&B featured record. I was trying to be more creative and find somebody who can do melody as well as rap on the record. Nelly doesn't really rap on this song, he's singing. He has that different style. That's kind of what the record is. We see that enough: R&B with a rapper feature. That's why I call this a duet as opposed to a feature".[7]

The first single from 20 Y.O. was thought to be released in February initially.[8] However, it had an initial release date for May.[9]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Call on Me" was written by Jermaine Dupri, Johntá Austin, James Phillips, Nelly, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, while production was handled by Janet Jackson, Dupri, Phillips, Jam and Lewis.[10] It is a mid-tempo ballad which samples The SOS Band's 1983 song "Tell Me If You Still Care," also written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.[10] According to Dupri, lyrically, "It's really just a record about when you need a friend, somebody you need to talk to, just call on a person. It's a friend record. It ain't really a boyfriend/girlfriend record. The way Nelly and Janet are talking is more girlfriend/boyfriend, but it really goes out to friends."[7]

Critical reception[edit]

"Call on Me" garnered mixed reviews from music critics. Andy Kellman of Allmusic picked "With U" as one of the album's best songs.[11] Jon Pareles of New York Times called it a "tinkly-twinkly tune,"[12] while Thomas Inskeep of Stylus Magazine named it " a lovely little pillow of a midtempo ballad, with Janet singing off Nelly (who’s also singing, which he arguably does better than he raps)."[13] Tammy La Gorce of described it as a "easy-beezy standout."[14] Jeevan Panesar of The Situation picked the song as one of the "Top Three Tracks", praising "its playful melody, easy listening and warm energy," but ultimately, calling it "easily forgettable."[15]

Tracy E. Hopkins of Barnes & Noble wrote that the song "won't wow too many fans with its nursery rhyme-like."[16] Spence D. of IGN was mixed, writing, "The obligatory star power guest shot occurs with 'Call On Me' featuring Nelly. Janet goes for her delicate wisp, but it sounds as if she's trying hard to maintain the crispness, straining to keep from cracking. Nelly delivers a slippery grind, making this also the obligatory 'time to get your sex on' number."[17] Don Baiocchi of Blogcritics was mixed, writing that "to kick off a comeback with the mediocre 'Call On Me,' a duet where she actually makes Nelly sing, is just plain wrong. 'Call on Me' wasn't the way to do that."[18] He also noted that "details like the tiny hand claps in 'Call On Me' are bizarre missteps."[19] Evan Serpick of Rolling Stone wrote that "it shamelessly re-creates 'Dilemma,' the St. Louis rapper's collaboration with Kelly Rowland."[20] Johnny Loftus of Metro Times was also negative, writing that the song "falls flat."[21]

Chart performance[edit]

The song premiered on New York City's Z100 on June 17, 2006. In the United States, the song was played one hundred and eighty-four times two days prior to its official release, on four different formats of radio, generating an audience impression of 4.358 million. By its official radio release date, it had achieved 8.679 million audience impressions. "Call on Me" debuted at number eight on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, a position roughly equivalent to number one hundred and eight on the Hot 100. The song also debuted at number forty-eight on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart two days after its official release, which was the highest debut of the week. The following week, the song debuted on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart at number nineteen, the highest debut since TLC's "No Scrubs", which debuted at number thirteen in February 1999.[22] "Call on Me" was released on the iTunes Store on July 18, 2006, which helped the song rise from number sixty-three to number twenty-five, the song's Hot 100 peak position. The following week, the song lost digital download points and fell to number thirty-three in its sixth week on the Hot 100. A limited retail shipment of the single was released on September 5, 2006 in the U.S. The song quickly reached number one on the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart, where it remained for six non-consecutive weeks, making it her longest stay atop the sales chart, beating out 1993's "That's the Way Love Goes", which spent five.[23] "Call on Me" spent six weeks atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales.

The song also topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for two non-consecutive weeks, becoming Jackson's fifteenth number-one R&B hit, her first since 2001's "All for You".[24] It was Nelly's fourth number one on the R&B chart, his first since 2002's "Dilemma".[24] "Call on Me" became Janet's 30th Top 10 single on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, which tied her with R. Kelly for scoring the most Top 10 singles ever in the chart's history. [25] In late September, "Call on Me" became the first of Jackson's number-one R&B hits to return to the pole position after dropping from number one.[24] Overall, "Call on Me" was a success, finishing as the eighth best-selling single of the year and second in the urban format. It was the twenty-seventh most played song at urban radio and finished overall at number twenty-two on Billboard's 2006 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs year-end chart.

In the United Kingdom, "Call on Me" debuted at number eighteen the week of September 23, 2006; it was the highest-charting new entry of that week.[26] It spent 5 weeks on the chart, dropping at number 70, on October 28, 2006.[26] The track also became a top twenty hit in several European countries. In Finland, the song peaked at number 20.[27] In Ireland, the song also debuted and peaked at number 20, on the IRMA chart week ending September 21, 2006.[28] The song was even more successful in New Zealand, where it debuted at number 40, but ultimately peaked at number 11, spending 11 weeks on the chart.[29] In Italy, the song peaked higher, debuting at number 7 on the FIMI charts.[30]

Music video[edit]

Jackson in the "Call on Me" music video, directed by Hype Williams.

The music video for "Call on Me" was directed by Hype Williams and took ten days to be completed.[31] The video's theme was inspired by Aesop’s Fables and is composed of live action and animation. It was filmed inside an aircraft hangar at the JFK Airport in New York City, New York. The music video incorporates Indian, Asian, and African styles, with a mixture of outfits and hairstyles. Outfits worn in the video included a specially-designed Kimono, metal corset, and nine-inch platform heels, with a total of five wardrobe changes. "Call on Me" is one of the most expensive music videos of all time, with a production cost of over $1,000,000.[32]

Speaking about the video to Us Weekly, director Hype Williams said "We wanted it to feel like we were painting a beautiful picture." Jermaine Dupri announced that the music video would be "the most expensive video of the last three years." "We pushed it as far as we could go. "We tried to get a goddess feel", said make-up artist Fran Cooper. Behind the scenes footage and the making of "Call on Me" was documented on an episode of Access Granted before its official premiere.[33] The video premiered on July 26, 2006, also premiering in Canada on MuchMusic and CTV on July 27, 2006. The music video for "Call on Me" hit number one on 106 & Park on August 16, 2006 and reached number eighteen on the channel's year-end countdown. The music video is featured on the deluxe edition and iTunes exclusive edition of 20 Y.O.

Following the release of the music video, TMZ reported: "Fans of Janet Jackson are in a fury over the alleged lack of support MTV is showing their first Icon. MTV has yet to premiere or even announce a date of a debut for the singer's latest video "Call On Me". Fans have flooded the message boards with tons of Janet support, but, according to these fans, many posts were deleted by a moderator. There is much speculation over why Janet has been "blacklisted" from MTV airplay, but most fingers point to her 2004 Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction," which was co-produced by MTV, who was fined by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for the mishap. Calls to MTV were not immediately returned."[34]

Live performances[edit]

Janet performed the song with Nelly on the Today Show.[35] She later performed the song on the Rock Witchu Tour, with Nelly on the screens. Bob Grendon writing for Chicago Tribune said the duet lacked soul.[36] It was added to the setlist of the Number Ones: Up Close and Personal tour.

Covers and samples[edit]

Track listings[edit]

Official remixes[edit]

House remixes by Tony Moran, Junior Caldera, and Disclosure were released in addition to urban remixes by Bionix, Waku, Lil Jon, Luny Tunes, and Full Phat.


Chart (2006) Peak
Australian Club Chart 49
Belgian Tip Chart (Flanders)[30] 2
Belgian Tip Chart (Wallonia)[30] 7
European Hot 100 Singles[48] 31
Finnish Singles Chart[27] 20
French Singles Chart[27] 41
German Singles Chart[27] 45
Irish Singles Chart[27] 20
Italian Singles Chart[30] 7
New Zealand Singles Chart[27] 11
Romanian Top 100[49] 82
Slovak Airplay Chart[50] 25
Swedish Singles Chart[27] 25
Swiss Singles Chart[27] 43
UK Singles Chart[27] 18
UK R&B Singles Chart 6
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[51] 25
U.S. Billboard Pop Songs[51] 32
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[51] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs[51] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales[51] 1
U.S. Billboard Pop 100[51] 33

End of year charts[edit]

End of year chart (2006/2007) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[52] 22
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[53] 95
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales[51] 8
U.S. Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Single Sales[51] 2

Chart procession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
"Pullin' Me Back" by Chingy featuring Tyrese Gibson
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs number-one single
September 23, 2006 (first run)
October 7, 2006 (second run)
Succeeded by
"Pullin' Me Back" by Chingy featuring Tyrese Gibson
"Say Goodbye" by Chris Brown


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  42. ^ Janet Jackson - Call on Me (Lil Jon Remix)
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External links[edit]