Janet Jackson channels brother Michael on new album
She quietly emerged from the shadows of her famous Jackson 5 brothers by first appearing as a cast member in the hit TV series ‘Good Times” and “Diff’rent Strokes,” and later releasing two unremarkable albums at the insistence of her manager father. It wasn’t until Janet Jackson, 49, rebelled against her controlling parents and teamed up with new manager, John McClain, that she took “control” of her life with a so-named third studio album. The 1986 release of Control is highlighted by Jackson’s collaborations on every track with producers/writers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and a bio posted on Billboard.com states the A&M project presents Jackson as a “confident and tough-minded artist … taking charge of her life for the first time.”
Jackson remained one of the biggest pop stars of the '80s, ‘90s, and early 2000s, exuding an ongoing brand of music marked by “impeccable quality control and stylistic evolution.” The singer’s run of more than 25 Top 20 hits between 1986 and 2001 includes 10 No.1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, and her reign as a pop and R&B queen inspired the next wave of stars such as Aaliyah, Britney Spears, Beyoncé, and Rihanna.
The past seven years—Jackson’s longest gap in between albums—were spent mourning her brother, Michael, but also celebrating life. She helps others through her many charities and by sharing how she uses diet and fitness to conquer her own struggles with low self-esteem. The ‘That's The Way Love Goes’ singer also appeared in the films “Why Did I Get Married Too?” and the big-screen adaptation of “For Colored Girls.” Her latest project is Unbreakable via the artist’s own Rhythm Nation Records with distribution by BMG Rights Management.
The new release is Jackson’s 11th studio album and first since the 2009 death of her beloved brother. “Janet channels [Michael Jackson] more than ever before,” notes Yahoo News, “with her voice at times eerily reminiscent of her brother's.” The album opens with the “funky R&B” title track, a song Yahoo believes “could easily be mistaken for posthumous Michael Jackson” as his sister sings in “short gasping-for-breath ‘hiccups’” that are reminiscent of her brother’s falsetto style.
Jackson again worked with her breakout songwriting team of Jam & Lewis, but Unbreakable presents a “more jaded” version of the singer who rallied fans in 1989 with her call to join the Rhythm Nation “voices in protest of social injustice.” The new album features standout tracks such as ‘Shoulda Known Better,’ which depicts Jackson as someone “exasperated at the prevalence of poverty and the inaction of critics who ‘only want to talk.’” She also has light moments on cuts such as the “fun-charging, 1970s-style funk” of ‘Gon B Alright.’
First single ‘No Sleeep’ featuring J. Cole is currently No. 1 on both the Mediabase Urban AC airplay and Billboard Adult R&B Songs charts. The song also appears in the Top 20 (No. 18) of Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart—a testament to how Unbreakable is a fitting tribute to her late brother, but also a return to the retro sound that first defined her. Unbreakable is being supported by a 92-date arena tour of North America and Japan that kicks off later this month and continues into next summer.
Watch Janet Jackson and J. Cole in the official music video for ‘No Sleep,’ the pop/R&B superstar’s first new single in more than five years.
As A Matter of Fact…
* Janet Damita Jo Jackson was born May 16, 1966, in Gary, Indiana. She is the youngest of nine children, who include five older brothers that formed the Jackson 5 singing group. She first appeared onstage with her brothers at age seven, but initially caught the nation’s attention in 1977 as the little sister of Jimmie Walker on the sitcom “Good Times.”
* After appearing on other series such as “Diff'rent Strokes” and “A New Kind of Family,” Jackson was persuaded by her manager father to give singing a chance. Her 1982 self-titled debut release features the single ‘Young Love.’ The song reached No. 6 on the R&B chart, but neither the single nor album crossed over to the pop charts.
* In 1983 Jackson was cast in the TV musical series “Fame,” and the following year released her second album, Dream Street, which was only a moderate sales success despite peaking at No. 18 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. An attempt to break away from her parents household at age 18 resulted in a failed marriage to singer James DeBarge and eventual return to the Jackson household.
* Jackson reevaluated her musical career and hired new manager, John McClain, who put the singer on a diet and fitness regimen that included training as a dancer. McClain also brought in the writer/producer team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who collaborated with Jackson on the hit tracks that would become the 1986 breakout album, Control.
* The music videos for the Control hit singles ‘What Have You Done for Me Lately,’ ‘Nasty,’ ‘When I Think of You,’ and the title track showcased Jackson’s body makeover and slick, choreographed dance moves. The videos generated millions of views and numerous awards as the album eventually topped the Billboard 200 and sold more than 14 million copies to date.
* Janet Jackson has sold 26 million certified albums in the U.S., according to RIAA, and an estimated 140 million records sold worldwide. In January 2010 the single ‘Make Me’ topped the Billboard dance charts, giving Jackson a total of 19 No. 1 singles on the chart—behind only Madonna (46), Rihanna (23), and Beyoncé (22).
* Jackson has sold an estimated 140 million records worldwide, and is listed as the 11th best-selling female recording artist in the United States. She’s placed 10 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, 14 No. 1s on the R&B charts, and 19 chart toppers on the dance/club singles chart.
* The albums Control, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, and Janet are among the RIAA’s Top 100 certified albums. In addition, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 and The Velvet Rope LPs are included on Rolling Stone 's list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
* Jackson devotes much of her time and money to various causes including UNICEF, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Cities in Schools, America’s Promise, Starlight Foundation, American Foundation for AIDS Research, and her Rhythm Nation Scholarship, which helps eligible advance educational goals.
* In November 2009 Jackson released Number Ones via A&M Records/Universal Music Enterprises. The double-disc anthology anchored by her 19th No. 1 club hit, ‘Make Me,’ is Jackson’s second greatest hits album. It includes 33 of the singer’s No. 1 hit singles that topped music charts from North America, Europe, and Australia to Japan and South Africa.