5 Ways That Janet Jackson Can Get ‘Control’ Again

Le sigh. Janet Jackson is having the worst year imaginable. From having boyfriend Jermaine Dupri throwing up on her lap after drinking Jay-Z's specialty booze to having to live down an older brother who constantly invents reunion tours out of thin's clearly been a rough escapade for Miss Jackson. To make it worse, Janet has quietly announced a few weeks ago that she has canceled all upcoming (and rescheduled) dates on her RockWitChu Tour. Presently, Janet fans are having a difficult time. It's tough explaining the wayward career actions the singer has taken over the course of five years to their fellow peers. (Once I spent 30 minutes explaining to my Dad on the phone why Discipline flopped...I'm dedicated like that.) Maybe it's time we can figure out ways to help her get back to the basics. Here are my suggestions, may Janet take these into consideration...

1. Ditch JD and bring back Jam & Lewis
Jermaine Dupri is a good producer, but he didn't do jack diddle for Janet musically. When Janet recruited Jermaine (and started dating him) in 2004, Jermaine became Janet's personal kryptonite as almost everything he touched, turned into mush on the charts. While a handful of JD tracks were worthy of hit status, it really bruised Janet fans when Jam & Lewis were "cast aside" for 2008's Discipline. Even though it seems kind of old hat to recruit Jam & Lewis these days, but maybe if Janet just gave them a ring and put JD in the doghouse for awhile, something cool will be resurrected.
2. The Four-Year Album Release Gap
Janet usually put out albums every four years and has followed this pattern since 1986's Control. In 2006, she seemed to break tradition when she released 20 Y.O and it had only been a brief and low selling two years since Damita Jo...then in 2008, two years after 20 Y.O. we got Discipline, the pattern continued and heads went spinning. Janet probably needs to pace herself and actually take the time to put together something that can latch on with a waning public (i.e. The Velvet Rope).
3. Seek a record label that is NOT notorious for bad single choices
When Janet signed to Island Def Jam in 2007, it was sort of a big mistake as the label did a shoddy job of promoting Discipline. Just ask Mariah Carey, whose E=MC2 was a ball of messy promotion and single releases this year as well. As Janet has parted ways with Island Def Jam at present, might I suggest she find a record label that will take into consideration that an album is not to be toyed with, but actually posses a single worthy of a sales choice? I had a friend tell me that it takes two to three hit singles to make folks buy the album like hot cakes, no matter how crappy the album as a whole is. True that. So Janet seek out a record label that will properly promote and distribute your next record.
4. Give Michael a call...two can make it out of sight
Before anyone dubs me Jermaine Jackson, think about the option of Janet and brother, Michael Jackson going on tour together. Seriously. All they need to do is record a duet together, make an obscenely expensive video and then go on the road as a two-for-one deal. Ticket sales would be, ahem, "off the wall." Okay, fat chance, but it's not bad to dream.
5. Know that Hip-Hop is NOT the savior of R&B
This isn't entirely Janet's fault, but it's a rut that alot of R&B artists and their producers have fallen into. Janet should embrace her "Black Cat" days or even tackle what "Throb" and "Someone To Call My Lover" was. She doesn't need to do a Tina Turner, but maybe give some other genres a chance to spice up her R&B formula.

Originally posted at Adventures of An Audio Diva

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26 Responses

  1. My advice for janet:
    since you like making dance music and don't want to be Sade, get with house producers and make a real dance record. Louie Vega, Osunlade, Bugz in the attic, Opolopo, Karizma, Joey Negro, the list is endless. Two, keep your clothes on when promoting the next record. Not a scathing indictment of you in particular, but at 40 it's time to use your head and not your tits to sell records. And, that goes for Madonna too. It's tired. Three, find a new album concept. Handcuffs, bondage, etc... really? no one cares anymore. We get it. You're grown. Surely, at 40 that can't be all you have left to sing about.

  2. She definitely needs to ditch JD as a producer. Also she needs to stop trying to compete with the Beyonces and Rhiannas. Janet is what, 42 now? Your target audience has aged as you have aged. A more mature sound isn't a bad thing. Not saying she has to do adult contemporary, but perhaps a smoother R&B. Work with people like the Platinum Pied Pipers, ?uestlove, or give Illa J (J Dilla's brother) a shot.
    And the anonymous poster before me is right. If Janet does decide to stick with dance music. Teaming up with Quentin Harris, Casamena or even DJ Spinna might do the trick.

  3. JD co-produced one record with Jackson, along with Lewis and Jam. Back in '01, people were complaining that the J&L formula had become stale, so she creates the beautiful and interesting "Damita Jo" that keeps J&L and injects some new blood. Controversy killed it.
    JD works with her and J&L on "20 Y.O." which quite a good album despite public opinion, and then produced one of her finest 2000's numbers ever in "Rock With U"
    I don't think JD has anything to do with JJ's music not connecting, I just think that this generation is on a different wavelength. More than anything, Janet just needs a label to work with her, and some distance from the scene. Otherwise, despite everything, Janet has produced one solid LP after another.
    Her sexuality is her gimmick, everyone has one, it works for her. And if she thought were as damaging as some do, I highly doubt she would've continued doing it. I think she isn't trying to compete, I think she is doing her.
    Commercial returns mean nothing if the product isn't there. Much respect and love to JJ, but y'all know how I roll-QH

  4. QH said: I think she isn't trying to compete, I think she is doing her.
    As of lately, doing her hasn't been doing squat.

  5. Yes! Yes!!! I totally agree with you 100% I am a Janet fan have all her albums(except for the first 2 unknown albums). To me the last "good" album she had was the All for You. Since then I've been quite disappointed. I'm trying to be a faithful fan, but Janet needs to get it together. Sometimes you have to revisit the past to rock out the future

  6. @ QH: I agree that the pervasive sexuality in her music is her doing her, whether we view it as gimmick or not. A shift away from that content would feel inorganic and might be so jarring that she'd lose more fans than gain them.
    @ Soulrific: I'm not sure she's competing with the younger performers as much as Janet is competing with the idea of herself that all of them have diluted and re-presented to the public.
    @ AudioDiva re: Janet and Michael. That could either be really amazing or really, really tragic. There's no in-between.

  7. I agree with the sentiment of AudioDiva's post, though not most of the actual suggestions. First, just to clarify, Jan's sales are low for her, not for the current marketplace in general. Discipline debuted at #1 selling approximately 200,000 copies in its first week. So it's not like the project didn't have any significant success and that's in addition to Feedback shifting about 700,000 in legal downloads. There have been plenty of recent projects from superstar urban acts: including Nelly, LL Cool J , Ashanti, Mariah & Usher, that have similarly underperformed. I just think people are way too quick to label Jan's post SB projects as flops just because they didn't perform at her pre-SB level w/o placing her sales within the context of the current CD sales climate.
    Nevertheless, Jan does need to redefine her musical aesthetic because truthfully, though she continues to make solid albums, which is no small achievement, she hasn't made a "great" album since the Velvet Rope. I also think that she should take a long sabbatical from music and thus give her audience a chance to really miss her. She can of course continue to persue work as an actress in the meantime.

  8. I'm sorry, but if there is one artist you do not "change" it is Janet Jackson. If she moves in different directions, it should be of her own accord. I don't mind Janet being mostly Pop/Dance; that's her lane and she does it with great panache. Pop doesn't have to be overly-sexualized (but Janet will always exude sexuality to some degree) or immature. It is entirely possible that she can continue with upbeat jams and not look silly; she simply has to work with people that know her the best and who can create music for her that would be an organic progression in that vein.
    Also, and I've addressed this before, there's a sentinment that sexuality = immaturity whenever Janet's name comes up. I will continue to defend her as a woman of color and as a grown-ass woman that she is perhaps at the best age to claim and convey her sexuality. I'd rather hear/see it from a 40 yr-old than a 17 yr old; bottom line: Black women get better with age.
    Look at it this way, Janet has never been trashy. Her sexuality has always been either extremely nuanced or playful, but never screamed prostitute or naughty schoolgirl. This needs to be taken into account. Janet will never be signing in ballgowns in Carnegie Hall and her age should not reduce her to that. It's not about abandoning sexuality or Pop, it's about figuring out what type of sexuality and Pop would work best at this stage in her adult life and career.

  9. the only thing I don't agree with is the statement about e=mc2. IDJ poured every penny that they had into promoting that record HELL they are still releasing damn singles & videos. It just wasnt a good album and I LOVE MiMI. Now JJ on the other hand you didnt see her until 2 days before the album dropped and a week after all you could hear about is how excited LA Reid was about the MAriah record.

  10. Let the truth be heard!
    I noticed everyone has focused on Janet’s career and the issue was having control again. Like Michael; Janet owes nothing to her fans, perhaps her greatest debt is to herself. If you remember the control album was about where she was in life at that time. I say enough of the sexual gimmicks as it was put and the playing to my crowd when I was 20 years younger. I say it is time that the world is introduced to the real Janet. Will the real Janet please stand up and be heard and that would be real control again. We had control and rhythm nation, now we need tolerance and acceptance. Let the truth be heard! I think the real Janet is a totally nice person.
    Frank Paul Gambino

  11. So soulrific, what do you define as squat? If you are meaning record sales or pandering to the public, then no. But again, I'd rather Janet be true to her own vision than reduce herself to something less than what she is, and for what? One possible commercial comeback, I guess.
    Janet is one of those individuals that no matter what she does, someone won't be pleased. So, I applaud her for doing her. If it moves you, jump on board, if not, then don't. It's that simple.-QH

  12. Janet lacks an overall vision of herself beyond what is current. Janet’s contemporary is Madonna. Madonna always knows who she is musically and what her audience expects from her (and what they will pay to see her). Madonna cds and videos communicate her vision even though she’s working with other artists. They must shape the songs to fit Madonna’s overall vision. Janet is too depended on her producer vision of who she is. Her songs don’t seem personal or revealing (no matter how overly sexual they are). There’s such an emptiness to Janet’s current CD’s there’s nothing to connect to. Janet’s videos have not been interesting since Rhythm Nation. You can blame state of the music business or her producers but I think Janet never tried to develope into an artist. She settled for just being famous.

  13. almost everything I could've said or even THOUGHT about saying, nOvaMatic said it for me.
    but, still: Janet is an artist that everyone will dis when she's down, but love when she's up. e.x. I don't remember anyone saying how bad All for You was when it first came out, and how it didn't compare to The Velvet Rope. Now even though I agree with that, that wasn't the general consensus in 2001 because then everyone was calling her an Icon. She was up.
    On the flipside, Damita Jo is one of the best records Janet has ever made, and one of the best cds I have ever owned. It was fresh, diffrent, embraced R&B, and yes, it was Sexy. (People like to act like Janet recently got sexy. Take a listen to Funny How Time Flies [When You're Having Fun] from Control, she was ALWAYS sexy.) But due to the Superbowl (which somehow shifted from JT ripping Janet's bra, to Janet ripping the bra on her own), the album was panned, and the public was to punk to buy it. She was down.
    However, that's the life of a Pop Artist, and Janet is mainly pop. Janet's always been Pop with some R&B mixed in.I agree with the fact that Janet needs to take a break from music. I don't want it, but I feel that until the public misses her, she will still be Ms. Nipplegate. I would like to see her act during that time.
    But make no mistake, Janet as built her entire career on not doing what's expected to her and not fitting a mold. I don't know why at 42 we expect her to be any different. Why do we expect her artistry to shift in order to "fit" her age? Would you ask Madonna to stop making Pop and make straight light rock? Would you ask Prince to dress more masculine, and stop it with the "whole sex gimmick"? HELL-TO-THE-NAH BOBBY! Because true legends don't change, they evolve and do them. And you can either dig it, or not.
    So, if you feel like you just can't dig Janet anymore, that's cool. Listen to whatever you listened to from her when you did. In the meantime, she will continue doing her, and when the world loves her again, I'm sure you will too.

  14. Brava Mr. Barry Archie, I like how you said it like it is. Though, it is the flipside for me, Janet is and R&B act with a crossover/pop appeal. I prefer her urban anyway.-QH

  15. there's an old saying "act your age, not your shoe size" Janet needs to make grown up music and stop trying to sell sex like she is the black version of Madonna. There I said it and I am sticking to my story.

  16. Thanks, QH!

  17. Audio Diva makes several great points here. I understand that she's been very loyal to Jim and Jam Lewis but there came a time when it's time to work new people. Only, Janet should have done some tracks with them, if only two or three tracks.

  18. ok...i must admit. when i first saw the headline for this post i thought, "oh no, not another redundant post about janet's career." but i agree with most of this post, particularly number 1. go back to jimmy jam and terry lewis--they're masters at what they do.

  19. I'd like to add there use to be a media comparison between Madonna and Janet in their 'glory years' despite the age gap. But one thing Madge has on Janet (and I love Janet) that the press brought out back in the day is REINVENTION. Yes the body and ta-tas are hot mami, but we have all seen them TOO many times before. So what are you left with? A dying on the vine withered up DIVA? No. Again I defer to Madonna. REINVENT yourself Janet.
    There is still alot of talent left in her that isn't being shown anymore due to that in your face sexual marketing. Put some clothes on, Tone down the sexual imagery, and undercover porn star lyrics. Janet doesn'tt have to keep up with the younger chicks that have little to no talent so all they have is T&A.
    #2 Go back to being true to the material. Not saying you have to do Rhythm Nation deux or Velvet Rope the sequel but put some heart back into the music. Some of the best music have come from artists in their time of 'breakdowns', divorces, and personal issues. The stuff put out since All For You is NOT original at all. There is no heart there. 20 Y.O. was a joke and Feedback was the only good thing IMHO on Discipline.
    And #3, start taking in some acting jobs. Some low key maybe satirical work on TV shows (not just SNL), and more movies. Put the Janet name back out there in a positive light.
    If Britney can get comeback acting jobs and Mimi can make a singing comeback (well...Mimi needs another comeback) then so can Janet, I am rooting for her. Stay up JJ.

  20. Girl you hit it right on the nose..! Janet is still the badest chick out there..she just needs to take your advise which is also my advise..i have been saying that she needs to get back with jimmy jam and terry lewis with a quickness for years..JD..he is bad..don't get me wrong...its just not good to mix love with bussiness...his style is too young for janet...a tour with michael..hell would help michael more than her...but you are right we must bring Ms.Jackson back i love her to death...and always will...thanks for the insight..kimmmytee,,,

  21. The #1 thing that Janet can do is actually open her mouth and sing. It requires far more effort than I'm willing to dedicate to try and decipher her mumblings.

  22. I think Janet's problems started right after Superbowl 2004. JT kissed a lot of ass and said I apologize. Now he the best damn thing next to George Michaels -NOT! Janet should get into acting more. Go back to what she knows best which is Jam & Lewis. Between Damita Jo, 20Y.O and Discipline. Janet had some hits on those cd's, but they were not correctly distributed. JD as her producer she needs to get rid of. Janet singing about bling, vodka, and that so call street life isnt her. Janet life and upbringing is totally different in Cali compared to ATL.

  23. ON 20 YO there is a song called ENJOY. Shout out to DJ Mike and DJ Big Daddy in Atlanta for puttin me up on it. ENJOY has the cold, smooth, sexy JANET dance beat. That song should be the direction of her next CD. Needless to say someone in her camp missed the mark. Put me on TEAM JANET I would jumpstart her career!!!

  24. I can't say it any better, i am a huge idol of Janet Jackson but your right, and i think she should fallow your advise. Its hard to see her go a path of disappointment. I want the old Janet Back!!!! But no matter what i will always love her and admire here forever.

  25. "On the flipside, Damita Jo is one of the best records Janet has ever made, and one of the best cds I have ever owned."
    Sorry, Barry, but as a major JJ fan I think DJ is her most overrated album in the fan community. It is every bit as cheap and tinny as the media made it out to be--the songs are devoid of any real meaning. The production is lacking to say the least; every hook sounds like something I've heard before and the beats--while polished--are totally derivative.
    But the absolute worst part of the album is the "singing" or lack thereof. When people talk about how Janet Jackson whispers, they're talking about this album. The only song where she truly sang is "I Want You" and not coincidentally that's probably the best track on Damita Jo. All for You is a far superior album and, oddly enough, underrated IMO. Its production is so thick and smooth that it can be cut with a knife--Jimmy and Terry hit a home run. Her vocals are, for the most part, on point. There is an awesome amount of experimentation on the album ("Truth," "Son of a Gun," "You Ain't Right"). It feels SUBSTANTIAL, not tinny like Damita Jo.
    I don't know why I'm rambling about this but I digress. There are some great comments here; no haters! 😀 I think that while the world's lack of respect for Janet Jackson (especially compared to its respect for Madonna) is appalling, lately she has deserved it. Damita Jo, 20 Y.O. and to an extent Discipline all pale in comparison to her earlier works. The Velvet Rope is my favorite album of all time. That is REAL Janet doing HER as you say. Her '90s music--all of it--has an incredibly cool R&B vibe that has been lacking her '00s work. "Twenty Foreplay" is a great example; what a gorgeous song. The way it's presented is the best part. You wouldn't think it was a sex song without listening to the lyrics.
    Basically, I just hope Janet can go back to that. I keep hoping, and hoping, and hoping. I don't know if I can hope for much longer. Her fanbase will only take so many "ok" albums. One taboo that I have to bring up: Rene Elizondo played a much larger role in her socially active music than we would like to believe. I hope it's not true--that Janet is the one with the artistry. But all signs point in his direction.