Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, dancer and actress. Born in Gary, Indiana and raised in Encino, California, she is the youngest member of the Jackson family of musicians. She first performed on stage with her family beginning at the age of seven, and later started her career as an actress with the variety television series The Jacksons. She went on to star in other television shows including Good Times, A New Kind of Family, Diff'rent Strokes, and Fame.
Jackson faced initial difficulties after launching her recording career in 1982, often criticized for having a limited vocal range and being yet another child from the Jackson family to become a recording artist. However, with the collaboration of record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jackson found record-breaking success, producing five consecutive number one studio albums on the Billboard 200; these include Control (1986), Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989), janet. (1993), The Velvet Rope (1997), and All for You (2001). Although critics have compared her contemporary work less favorably to that of her initial breakthroughs, the critical and commercial success of her innovative multi-platinum albums, music videos and choreography have contributed to Jackson's successful career as an entertainer.
Jackson has been regarded as one of the most influential recording artists in the history of contemporary R&B, as her music has incorporated elements of rap music with sample loop, triple swing and industrial beats, which led to crossover appeal in popular music. She became a pop icon in the late 1980s, and was recognized as a role model for youth, as her music promoted abstinence over promiscuity, self-respect and social consciousness.
Jackson’s public image later developed into that of a fully matured adult, as her music began to explore topics such as sexual freedom, domestic violence and sadomasochism. The 1990s established her as one of the highest paid recording artists in contemporary music. She later emerged the second most successful artist of the decade, although her status in popular music has since diminished.
Though Jackson is listed by the Recording Industry Association of America as the eleventh best-selling female artist in the United States with 26 million certified albums, Billboard magazine named her one of the top-ten selling artists in the history of contemporary music. She is ranked as the ninth most successful act in the history of rock music and the second most successful female artist in pop music history, having sold over 100 million albums worldwide. Amidst her recording career, Jackson has also starred in feature films since the mid-1990s. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? (2007), for which Jackson won a NAACP Image Award, became her third consecutive film to open at number one at the box office, following Poetic Justice (1993) and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000).
1966–1982: Early life and career
Janet Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, as the youngest of nine children to Katherine Esther (née Scruse) and Joseph Walter Jackson. The family were lower-middle class and devout Jehovah's Witnesses. By the time she was a toddler, her older brothers—Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael—had begun to perform on stage at nightclubs and theaters as The Jackson 5. In March 1969, the group signed a record deal with Motown, and by the end of the year they had recorded the first of four consecutive number-one singles. The Jackson 5's success allowed the entire family to move to the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles, California in 1971. The Jacksons settled in a gated mansion that they referred to as "Hayvenhurst." Although born into a family of musical prodigies, Jackson—whose love of horses initially inspired her to become a race-horse jockey—had no aspiration to become an entertainer. Her father, however, planned for her to follow in the family's footsteps. Jackson commented, "No one ever asked me if I wanted to go into show business... it was expected."
In 1974, at the age of seven, Jackson appeared on stage in Las Vegas, Nevada alongside her siblings in a routine show at the original MGM Casino. She began her career as an actress with the debut of the CBS variety show The Jacksons (1976), in which she appeared alongside her siblings Tito, Rebbie, Randy, Michael, Marlon, Latoya and Jackie. In 1977, Jackson was selected by producer Norman Lear to play a recurring role in the sitcom Good Times. From 1979 to 1980, Jackson starred in A New Kind of Family, and then joined the cast of Diff'rent Strokes from 1981 to 1982. Jackson played a recurring role during the fourth season of the television series Fame as Cleo Hewitt; Jackson later commented the series was not a project she enjoyed working on.
1982–1985: Early recordings
Although Jackson was initially apprehensive about starting a music career, she agreed to participate in recording sessions with her family. Her first recording was a duet with her brother Randy on a song titled "Love Song for Kids" in 1978. At the age of fifteen, her father (and manager) arranged a contract for her with A&M Records. Her debut album Janet Jackson, produced by soul singers Angela Winbush, René Moore and Leon F. Sylvers III, was released in 1982. The album peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot R&B albums chart. The record received poor critical reception, with one critic commenting that Jackson had "no distinctive musical personality of her own". Despite the critical views, Jackson's second album, Dream Street was released two years later. Critical reception was considered favorable to that of Jackson's debut album, as her musical style was described as a "prime [example] of pleasing '80s pop". Dream Street reached number nineteen on the R&B albums chart, however, its sales were less than that of Jackson's debut album. The album's only hit—"Don't Stand Another Chance"—peaked at number nine on Billboard's R&B singles chart. That same year, Jackson eloped with childhood friend and fellow R&B singer James DeBarge; they divorced shortly afterwards and the marriage was subsequently annulled.
After the limited successes of her first two albums, Jackson made the decision to separate her business affairs from her father/manager Joesph Jackson and the rest of her family. She later commented "I just wanted to get out of the house, get out from under my father, which was one of the most difficult things that I had to do, telling him that I didn't want to work with him again". A&M Records executive John McClain hired producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to work with Jackson. Within six weeks, Jackson, Jam, and Lewis crafted Jackson's breakthrough album, Control, which was released in February 1986. It was a concept album based on Jackson's new-found independence. Though producers Jam and Lewis were concerned with achieving cross-over appeal, their primary goal was to create a strong following within the African-American community first. Jam commented, "We wanted to do an album that would be in every black home in America... we were going for the black album of all time."
Critics compared Jackson's music favorably to contemporary rivals such as Whitney Houston, Patti LaBelle, and Diana Ross. The album's singles, "What Have You Done for Me Lately," "Nasty," "When I Think of You" (Jackson's first number one single on the Billboard Hot 100), "Control," and "Let's Wait Awhile" each peaked within the Top 5; "The Pleasure Principle" became a Top 20 hit, peaking at number 19. Most of the Control music videos were choreographed by a then unknown-Paula Abdul. "Let's Wait Awhile", which promoted sexual abstinence over promiscuity, earned Jackson a reputation as a role model for young women.
Richard J. Ripani, author of The New Blue Music: Changes in Rhythm & Blues, 1950-1999, states the album was one of the first successful records to influence the rise of new jack swing, incorporating R&B, funk, jazz, soul, and various production techniques, which emerged in the mid-1980s. The success of Control, according to Ripani, had bridged the gap between R&B and rap music. The album earned Jackson three Grammy nominations, six Billboard Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, and three Soul Train Awards. Control was nominated for twelve American Music Awards, winning four, a record that has yet to be broken. Control was certified 5× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The album has sold over eight million copies worldwide.
1989–1992: Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814
In 1989, Jackson began recording her fourth album, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814. The release is a concept album based on social injustice. Though executives at A&M wanted an album similar to Control, Jackson was determined to imbue her music with a socially-conscious message that complemented her songs about love and relationships. Unwilling to compromise her artistic integrity, Jackson shifted from "personal freedom to more universal concerns—injustice, illiteracy, crime, drugs—without missing a beat." Much like its predecessor, the album contained heavy styling of new jack swing. While Jackson's small voice was criticized and her social agenda garnered mixed reactions, reviews for Rhythm Nation 1814 were predominately positive; critics commented it was an even greater success than Control.
The album eventually became record-setting and record-breaking as the only album in history to score number one hits in three separate calendar years—"Miss You Much" in 1989, "Escapade" and "Black Cat" in 1990, and "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" in 1991. Jackson became the first artist to score a number-one hit simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 and Mainstream Rock singles charts with "Black Cat", and the only artist to have seven top-five singles on the Hot 100 from one album. Billboard named Rhythm Nation 1814 the number-one selling album of the year, winning multiple music awards. The Rhythm Nation 1814 Tour—Jackson's first world tour in support of a studio album—which aimed to re-create the award–winning, visually innovative music videos of Rhythm Nation 1814 and Control, was described as "an elaborately choreographed spectacle" by Entertainment Weekly. With an attendance of more than two million patrons, it remains the most successful debut tour by any recording artist. The success of Rhythm Nation 1814 and its predecessor Control, placed Jackson on par with several other globally renowned recording artists, including her older brother Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Tina Turner.
With the release of the Rhythm Nation 1814 album, Jackson fulfilled her contract with A&M Records. In 1991, after being approached personally by Virgin Records owner Richard Branson, she signed a highly publicized multi-million dollar contract with the label—estimated between $32-50 million—and became the highest paid female recording artist in contemporary music. That same year, Jackson secretly entered into her second marriage with long-term friend - dancer, songwriter and director René Elizondo, Jr. In May 1992, Jackson recorded a song entitled "The Best Things in Life Are Free" with Luther Vandross, featuring Bell Biv Devoe and Ralph Tresvant, for the Mo' Money film soundtrack. Rhythm Nation 1814 was certified 6× platinum and the album had sold eight million copies worldwide.
1993–1996: janet. and Poetic Justice
In May 1993, Jackson's fifth studio album entitled janet. (read "Janet, period."), debuted via Virgin Records, and became the first by a female artist to debut at number one during the Nielsen SoundScan era. Jackson commented, "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". Critical reception was generally favorable, but janet. was considered to be less innovative than Rhythm Nation 1814 and Control. janet. marked the beginning of Jackson's exploration of sexuality in her music. The album's number one hit single "That's the Way Love Goes" and the top ten singles "If," "Because of Love," "You Want This" and "Any Time, Any Place" all contained themes of sexual freedom and physical intimacy. Craig S. Semon of Telegram & Gazette-Worcester commented " Instead of practicing no sex, like she did on "Let's Wait Awhile," Jackson now practices endless sex all through "janet." In July 1993, Jackson made her big-screen debut in the John Singleton directed, Poetic Justice. Her role received predominately positive reviews, as Rolling Stone regarded Jackson's performance as "a beguiling film debut" despite her inexperience, while the Washington Post considered her "believably eccentric". Jackson's ballad "Again" was featured on the film's soundtrack, and garnered a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
During this time period, Jackson's brother Michael Jackson was immersed in a highly-publicized child sex abuse scandal, of which he denied any wrongdoing. Jackson lent moral support to her brother, and denied allegations made by her sister La Toya Jackson in her book La Toya: Growing up in the Jackson Family (1991) that their parents had abused her and her siblings as children.
In September 1993, Jackson appeared topless on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with the hands of her then-husband 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. The cover story, "Janet Jackson: The Joy of Sex" quoted Jackson stating "I love feeling deeply sexual -- and don't mind letting the world know". Jackson's second world tour—the janet. Tour—garnered critical acclaim as Michael Snyder of the San Francisco Chronicle described Jackson's stage performance as what erased the line between "stadium-size pop music concerts and full-scale theatrical extravaganzas", and St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Steve Pick observed Jackson's stage show made the janet. album's numerous hit singles more effective with her "larger-than-life stage persona". janet. was later certified 6× platinum by the RIAA, with worldwide sales exceeding ten million copies.
Jackson collaborated with her brother Michael on "Scream," the lead single from his 1995 album HIStory. The song debuted at number five on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart, becoming the first song ever to debut in the top 5. "Scream" is featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the "Most Expensive Music Video Ever Made" at a cost of $7 million. The single also made the highest debut on the Hot Dance Club Play chart at number twelve. In October 1995, Jackson's first compilation album, Design of a Decade 1986/1996, was released via A&M Records. In January 1996, Jackson renewed her contract with Virgin Records for a reported $80 million dollars. The contract reestablished her as the then-highest paid recording artist in contemporary music, suprassing the recording industry's then-unparalled 60 million dollar contracts earned by her brother, Michael Jackson, and Madonna.
1997–1999: The Velvet Rope
During the two year period prior to the recording of her sixth studio album, Jackson reportedly suffered from depression and anxiety. The Velvet Rope (1997) was an introspective look into Jackson's bout with depression, as Michael Saunders of The Boston Globe described it as a "critical self-examination and an audio journal of a woman's road to self-discovery". The album's title is a literal depiction of the velvet ropes commonly used to separate crowds from celebrities, and according to Jackson, the metaphorical velvet rope within every human being which keeps their true feelings separated from those around them. The album also introduced sadomasochism into Jackson's music; Eric Henderson of Slant commented, "The Velvet Rope is a richly dark masterwork that illustrates that, amid the whips and chains, there is nothing sexier than emotional nakedness". Although the album suffered criticism based on Jackson's personal issues with self-esteem, it became one of her most critically acclaimed, as Rolling Stone described The Velvet Rope as "part of a continuum, building from the self-empowering manifesto Control, the skin-deep social consciousness of Rhythm Nation and the hypersexual make-over of Janet".
In August 1997, the album's lead single, "Got 'Til It's Gone" was released to radio and was moderately successful. The single sampled the Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi" and featured a cameo appearance by rapper Q-Tip. The album's second single "Together Again", topped the charts, becoming Jackson's eighth number one hit on the Hot 100 chart, and placing her on par with Elton John, Diana Ross and The Rolling Stones. The single spent a record 46 weeks on the Hot 100, as well as spending 19 weeks on the UK singles chart. Other songs on the album which dealt with sexual orientation and homophobia, such as her cover version of Rod Stewart's 1976 song "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" and "Free Xone", established Jackson as a gay icon. The Velvet Rope was honored by the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and received the award for Outstanding Music Album at the 9th Annual GLAAD Media Awards.
In 1998, Jackson began the The Velvet Rope Tour, an international trek that included Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, New Zealand and Australia. Jackson's HBO special, The Velvet Rope: Live in Madison Square Garden, was watched by more than 15 million viewers. The two-hour concert beat the ratings of all four major networks in homes that were subscribed to HBO. The RIAA certified The Velvet Rope 3× platinum. The following month, Jackson separated from Elizondo Jr. As her world tour came to a close in 1999, Jackson lent guest vocals to a number of songs by other artists, including Shaggy's "Luv Me, Luv Me," for the soundtrack to How Stella Got Her Groove Back, the Grammy-nominated "God's Stepchild" from the Down on the Delta soundtrack, "Girlfriend/Boyfriend" with BLACKstreet, and "What's It Gonna Be?!" with Busta Rhymes. Jackson performed a duet with Elton John for the song "I Know The Truth." As 1999 ended, Billboard Magazine ranked Jackson as the second most successful artist of the decade, behind Mariah Carey.
2000–2003: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and All for You
In July 2000, Jackson returned to the big screen with her second film, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, as Professor Denise Gaines opposite Eddie Murphy. The film became Jackson's second to open at number one at the box office, grossing an estimated $42.7 million dollars in its opening weekend. Her contribution to the film's soundtrack, "Doesn't Really Matter", became Jackson's ninth number one U.S. Billboard Hot 100 single. That same year, Jackson's husband Elizondo filed for divorce, which did not finalize until October 2003. Jackson's seventh album, All for You, was released in April 2001. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Selling 605,000 copies, All For You had the highest first-week sales total of Jackson's career. Reviews for the album were predominately positive, as Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic stated "[Jackson's] created a record that's luxurious and sensual, spreading leisurely over its 70 minutes, luring you in even when you know better", and Jon Pareles of The New York Times commented "As other rhythm and blues strips down to match the angularity of hip-hop, Ms. Jackson luxuriates in textures as dizzying as a new infatuation".
"All for You" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at number 14, the highest debut ever for a single that wasn't commercially available.] The single peaked at number one, where it topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for seven weeks. "All For You" made radio airplay history, "[being] added to every pop, rhythmic and urban radio station that reports to the national trade magazine Radio & Records" in its first week. The second single, "Someone to Call My Lover", which contained a heavy guitar loop of America's "Ventura Highway", peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100. All For You sold more than three million copies in America, and was certified 2× platinum by the RIAA. In 2002, Jackson collaborated with reggae singer Beenie Man on the song "Feel It Boy," which met moderate success. Jackson later admitted regret over the collaboration after discovering Beenie Man's music often contains homophobic lyrics; Jackson issued an apology to her gay following in an article contained in The Voice. Jackson also began her relationship with record producer Jermaine Dupri that same year.
2004–2005: Super Bowl XXXVIII controversy and Damita Jo
Jackson performed alongside Justin Timberlake during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show in February 2004. As Timberlake sang the lyric "gonna have you naked by the end of this song" from his single "Rock Your Body", he tore open Jackson's top, exposing her right breast. Jackson apologized, although not to the network directly, calling it an accident, and said that Timberlake was supposed to pull away the bustier and leave the red-lace bra intact. Timberlake also issued an apology, calling the accident a "wardrobe malfunction". The incident became the most replayed moment in TiVo history and the most-searched event in the history of the Internet—surpassing the total number of searches for the September 11, 2001 attacks. This subsequently earned Jackson a place in the Guinness World Records as "Most Searched in Internet History." CBS, the NFL, and MTV (CBS's sister network that produced the halftime show), denied any knowledge and all responsibility of the incident under a hail of criticism. Still, the FCC continued an investigation. Jackson issued a public apology during a video broadcast, in addition to her initial written statement.
I am really sorry if I offended anyone. That was truly not my intention ...MTV, CBS, the NFL had no knowledge of this whatsoever, and unfortunately, the whole thing went wrong in the end.
—Janet Jackson, ESPN
CBS would only let Jackson and Timberlake appear on the 2004 46th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony if they each made a public apology to the network itself and not under the ruse it was a "wardrobe malfunction"; Timberlake issued an apology, Jackson did not. Jermaine Dupri left his post on the Grammy Awards committee after Jackson refused to apologize again for the Super Bowl incident. The controversy surrounding the incident halted plans for Jackson to star in a made-for-TV biopic on the life on singer Lena Horne for ABC-TV. Though Horne was reportedly displeased with the Super Bowl halftime antics and insisted that ABC pull Jackson from the project, according to Jackson's representatives, she withdrew from the project willingly.
In March 2004, Jackson's eighth studio album, Damita Jo—titled after her middle name and said to represent one of the various sides of her personality—was released debuting at number two. Despite the album's strong debut, its three singles all failed to become Top 40 hits. Jackson appeared as a host of Saturday Night Live on April 10, 2004, where she performed a skit that parodied the Super Bowl incident. She also appeared in the popular television sitcom Will & Grace playing herself, interacting with sitcom characters Karen Walker and Jack McFarland as Jack was auditioning to be one of her back-up dancers. By the end of 2004, Damita Jo had sold 942,000 copies in the United States and was later certified platinum by the RIAA, but was considered a commercial disappointment compared to Jackson's previous albums. Lackluster sales of Damita Jo have been speculated to be not only a result of negative publicity from the Super Bowl incident, but also due to MTV's "blacklisting" of Jackson's music videos. Jermaine Dupri, the then-president of the urban music department at Virgin Records, expressed "sentiments of nonsupport from the label."
2006–2007: 20 Y.O. and Why Did I Get Married?
To promote her upcoming album, Jackson appeared on the cover of Us Weekly in June 2006, which became the magazine's best-selling issue ever. Virgin Records released Jackson's ninth studio album, 20 Y.O., in September 2006. 20 Years Old, the album title, represents "a celebration of the joyful liberation and history-making musical style of her 1986 breakthrough album, Control." Jackson and producers Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Jermaine Dupri focused the album's production to R&B and dance oriented music—the two genres which made her famous.
20 Y.O. garnered modest critical reception, with many commentators asserting the album did not meet the awe inspiring production of its namesake, Control. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling over 296,000 copies in its first week. The album's lead single "Call on Me"—a duet with rapper Nelly—became the only single to peak in the top 40, hitting number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album, but did not win the award. 20 Y.O. was eventually certified platinum, but sold less than its predecessor Damita Jo. Jermaine Dupri, who co-produced 20 Y.O., left his position as head of urban music at Virgin following the commercial disappointment of Jackson's album. The release of 20 Y.O. satisfied Jackson's contract with Virgin Records.
Jackson starred opposite Tyler Perry as a psychotherapist named Patrica in the feature film Why Did I Get Married?. Filming began on March 5, 2007, and the film was released on October 12, 2007. The film opened at number one at the box office, grossing $21.4 million in its first week. In February 2008, Jackson won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her role.
In July 2007, Jackson changed labels and signed a record contract with Island Records. Jackson's tenth studio album, Discipline, was released on February 26, 2008 under the supervision of label head Antonio "L.A." Reid. Accompanied by record producer Jermaine Dupri, Discipline was Jackson's first album for the Island Def Jam Music Group. Jackson and Dupri severed as executive producers. Long-term collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis did not contribute and Discipline was the first album on which Jackson did not co-write any of the material since 1984's Dream Street. Although sales were less than that of Damita Jo and 20 Y.O., Discipline peaked in America on the Billboard 200 at number one with over 181,000 copies sold during that week, becoming Jackson's first number one album since All For You (2001).
Critical reception was generally positive as the album was said to be "as innocent, universal, and inviting as anything else in Janet's past", but other critics referred to the musical and lyrical content as "cheesy" and "bizarre", denouncing the overt sexual theme throughout the album. On December 12, 2007, the first single from the album, "Feedback", was leaked to select radio stations in the United States. On the Billboard Hot 100, the single originally peaked and remained in the top 50 for over six weeks, but after the album's release, it climbed to number 19 on the Hot 100. It became Jackson's biggest hit single since "Someone To Call My Lover" in 2001. Subsequent singles failed to chart on the Hot 100. Though Discipline was widely expected to be Jackson's "comeback" album—similar to Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough and Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi—Jackson has asserted that she has never stopped making music, and therefore, talks of a 'comeback' were misguided. Jackson's fifth world tour—the Rock Witchu Tour—is set to begin on September 10, 2008. Despite embarking on a world concert tour, Jackson announced there would be no more singles released off Discipline, as the Island Def Jam label had stopped all promotion of the album as of June 2008.
Musical style and performance
Jackson's voice has been classified as mezzo-soprano, though the singer has been noted for having a limited vocal range. Critics have caregorized "Jackson's small voice [as] a minor ingredient in a larger sonic blend by masterminds Jam and Lewis," however, other commentators observe this has never hindered Jackson's career.
Her wispy voice was a pale echo of Michael's, but on Janet's albums - and in her videos and live performances, which revealed a crisp, athletic dance technique not unlike her brother's - singing wasn't the point. Her slamming beats, infectious hooks, and impeccable production values were perfectly suited to the breezy zeal with which she declared her social and sexual independence.
"Rhythm Nation" (1989)
One of the most profound examples of new jack swing is found in "Rhythm Nation". The use of sample loop and triple swing are present, while vocals for the song are alternatively sung in octaves or rapped in spoken verse.
"Black Cat" (1989)
Jackson's self-written rock anthem "Black Cat", featuring guitarist David Barry and produced by Jellybean Johnson. Recorded using a mixture of rockman and Marshall amplifier to give it a heavy metal sound.
Jackson's voice has also been praised on occasion. Eric Henderson of Slant claimed critics who judged Jackson harshly for her thin voice "somehow missed the explosive 'gimme a beat' vocal pyrotechnics she unleashes all over "Nasty"...Or that they completely dismissed how perfect her tremulous hesitance fits into the abstinence anthem "Let's Wait Awhile." In 1986, when Jackson, Jam and Lewis crafted the breakthrough album Control, it became Jackson's declaration of independence. In the opening of the album's title-track, Jackson states "This is a story about control", while the lyrical content of the song describes Jackson's personal freedom after a lifetime of obeying the instruction of others. The theme of independence is prevalent throughout the album, as in the singles "Nasty" when Jackson asserts to a male suitor "My name ain't baby" and challenges an inattentive boyfriend in "What Have You Done for Me Lately". Jackson's follow-up album, Rhythm Nation 1814, displayed themes dealing with social injustices—racism, poverty, and crime among others. The 1993 janet. album contained the overt theme of sexual freedom, while The Velvet Rope began to explore S&M among other themes such as domestic abuse, depression, homophobia, and low self-esteem.
Jackson's music has encompassed a broad range of genres, including R&B, pop, soul, rap, rock, and dance. Jackson has credited her elder brothers Michael and Jermaine as her primary musical influences. David Ritz of Rolling Stone compares Jackson's musical style to that of Marvin Gaye; Jackson, much like Gaye, has relied heavily on personal experience as the source of her music. Other artists attributed to have influenced Jackson's music are The Ronettes, Dionne Warwick, Tammi Terrell and Diana Ross. When producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced Jackson's 1986 album Control, they introduced the emerging style of new jack swing into her music. New jack swing, which incorporates R&B, soul, jazz, and funk, as well as use of sample loop, triple swing and other various musical techniques, was created in part by L.A. Reid, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, and Teddy Riley in the mid 1980s. Described as "the most pop-oriented rhythm-and-blues music since 1960s Motown," the genre was promoted as the "Sound of Young Black America." Jam and Lewis continued to incorporate new jack swing into Jackson's later album's Rhythm Nation 1814 and janet. The Velvet Rope saw Jackson expand into adult contemporary, hip hop, and traditional soul and funk, abandoning new jack swing. All for You, as well as subsequent albums Damita Jo and 20 Y.O., involved numerous dance-pop-oriented songs, while Discipline merged dance-pop with electronic beats, in addition to the familiar R&B style to which Jackson is accustom.
As a child, Jackson routinely watched movie musicals with her brother Michael when they were not performing. After Michael Jackson, and subsequently all recording artists began to make music videos in order to promote their albums, Janet Jackson drew her inspiration from the musicals she watched in her youth. Jackson was heavily influenced by the choreography of Fred Astaire and Michael Kidd, among others. Judy Mitoma, author of Envisioning dance on film and video commented, "[n]ot since James Brown, Chubby Checker, and Elvis Presley wove dance and movement into their performances in the 1960s did the pop music world have so many charismatic vocalists who could dance". Eric Henderson regarded Jackson's breakthrough album Control as "the birth of Janet the music video star, as six of the nine tracks were turned into popular videos that all but announced her as queen of the production dance number". Jackson's concert performances have been compared to Broadway productions and have been referred to as "enormous theatrical extravaganza[s]" and the "pop equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie".Throughout her career, Jackson has worked with numerous professional choreographers such as Paula Abdul, Michael Kidd and Tina Landon. Landon also took part in the choreography for Michael and Janet Jackson's music video "Scream". With a career in dance music which spans two decades, Jackson's choreography has been credited for setting the benchmark for a number of contemporary artists. Qadree EI-Amin, Jackson's former personal manager commented artists such as "Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera pattern their performances after Janet's proven dance-diva persona". Jackson has been credited for influencing a number of female R&B music artists, including Ciara, Beyoncé Knowles, Cassie, Aaliyah, Brandy, and Monica.
Main articles: List of Janet Jackson awards, Grammy nominations for Janet Jackson, MTV Video Music Award nominations for Janet Jackson, American Music Award nominations for Janet Jackson, and Janet Jackson as gay icon
The baby sister of the "precious Jackson clan" and the "King of Pop" —Michael Jackson—Janet Jackson has strived to distance her professional career from that of her older brother and the rest of the Jackson family. Throughout her recording career, one of her common conditions for interviewers has been that there be no mention of Michael. Despite being born into a family of entertainers, Janet Jackson has managed to establish her unique impact on the recording industry—rivaling not only several female entertainers including Madonna, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, but also her brother—while "successfully [shifting] her image from a strong, independent young woman to a sexy, mature adult". When the American music industry began its economic recovery in the mid-1980s from the fall of the disco era, Janet Jackson, among other multi-platinum selling music artists, was acknowledged for stimulating the overall increase in consumer purchasing of LPs, cassette tapes and CDs. Though it was Michael Jackson's Thriller that originally synchronized music video with album sales, Janet Jackson saw the visualization of her music elevate her to the status of a pop culture icon.
As 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 [janet.]...it's a cultural moment.
Since 1986, Jackson has produced thirty-two number-one singles on various Billboard charts. With fourteen number one hits on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, Jackson stands in second place among female artists with the most R&B/Hip-Hop hit singles, behind Aretha Franklin, who has twenty. Jackson's Control, Rhythm Nation 1814, and janet. made her the only recording artist ever to score five or more top ten singles from three consecutive albums. Rhythm Nation 1814 also enabled Jackson to become the first recording artist to ever achieve seven top five hit singles from a single album. Jackson's tenth studio album Discipline, which became her sixth album to debut at number one, has allowed her to surpass brother Michael's five number one studio albums.
At the 1999 World Music Awards, Jackson received the Legend Award alongside Cher for "lifelong contribution to the music industry and outstanding contribution to the pop industry." Recognized as one of the biggest female pop and R&B stars of the 1980s and 1990s, Jackson was awarded a top honor from the American Music Awards—the Award of Merit—in March 2001 for "her finely crafted, critically acclaimed and socially conscious, multi-platinum albums." Jackson became the inaugural honoree of the "mtvICON" award—an annual recognition of artists who have made significant contributions to music, music video, and pop culture while tremendously impacting the MTV generation. Jackson's crossover appeal in both urban and popular music has been well documented as one of her advantages. El-Amin commented "She's bigger than Barbra Streisand because Streisand can't appeal to the street crowd, as Janet does. But Streisand's rich, elite crowd loves Janet Jackson". Although Jackson continues to receive radio airplay, her reception in popular music has diminished, with many critics using the Super Bowl incident as a catalyst to compare her contemporary work to that which was released prior to 2004.
In addition to her status as a pop icon, Jackson was named "Best Female Sex Symbol" in 1994 and one of the greatest African-American sex symbols by Ebony in 2005. Jackson has also been recognized as a gay icon, awarded by several LGBT organizations for her contribution to AIDS-related charities as well as being a long-term ally of the gay community. On June 18, 2005, Jackson was awarded a Humanitarian Award by the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization and AIDS Project Los Angeles on behalf of her work and involvement in raising money for AIDS charities. In 2006, it was announced that Jackson was the "Most Searched in Internet History" and the "Most Searched for News Item" by the Guinness World Records as a result of the halftime show controversy of Super Bowl XXXVIII. In addition, Jackson was ranked the 7th richest woman in the entertainment business by Forbes magazine, having amassed a fortune of over $150 million. On April 26, 2008, Jackson received the Vanguard Award—a media award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to honor members of the entertainment community who have made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for LGBT people—at the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards.
1982: Janet Jackson
1984: Dream Street
1989: Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814
1997: The Velvet Rope
2001: All for You
2004: Damita Jo
2006: 20 Y.O.
1976-1977: The Jacksons
1977-1979: Good Times
1979-1980: A New Kind of Family
1980-1984: Diff'rent Strokes
1993: Poetic Justice
2000: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps
2007: Why Did I Get Married?