Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson

Synopsis of Pop Music

"No, my first name ain't 'baby'
It's Janet - Miss Jackson if you're nasty..."

It’s not easy to establish yourself as a stand-alone artist, especially when you're the little sister of the King of Pop. Growing up in the shadow of mega-talents like the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson, littlest sister Janet Jackson managed to beat those odds, establishing herself on her own terms to the rest of the world through a phenomenal string of hit albums and singles.

Janet got her show-business start as a part of the Jackson 5’s 1974 Vegas engagement and earned plenty of laughs with her impression of Mae West. She also appeared with her brothers on their 1976 variety show, The Jacksons. Television executives took notice of her talent and gave her the role of ‘Penny’ on Good Times. She continued to act on television throughout the late 70’s and early 80’s, popping up on programs like Diff’rent Strokes and Fame. Jackson also began her recording career in 1982 with a self-titled debut album.

Janet Jackson became a true pop-music star in 1986 with her third album, Control. It mixed stellar, hook-laden pop melodies with a state-of-the-art r&b sound to produce a string of hit singles that dominated both the pop and r&b charts. “What Have You Done For Me Lately” and “Nasty” combined sassy lyrics and slamming electro-beats to become Top-5 hits. “When I Think Of You” married sweeter love-song lyrics to the same danceable energy to give Janet her first #1 hit. Control continued to spin hits into 1987 with the manifesto-like “Control” and the luxurious ballad “Let’s Wait Awhile.”

All these hits benefited from excellent videos, which allowed Janet to show off her formidable dance skills. The most impressive of these was “Pleasure Principle,” which was built around an elaborate solo dance routine. These videos were choreographed by Jackson’s future fellow pop star, Paula Abdul. However, the most important thing about Control was that it established Janet Jackson as an artist. She had taken an active role in the writing of her music and all the songs thus worked together as the lyrical statement of a woman who was proud, independent, and in charge of herself as a person and an artist.

Janet Jackson surpassed her previous album’s success in 1989 with Rhythm Nation 1814. Like Control, it blended danceable rhythms with thoughtful lyrics. However, this time the lyrics mixed social concerns in with the usual pop-song themes. “Miss You Much” was a romantically-themed dance song that gave Jackson another #1 hit. “Rhythm Nation” almost matched it and peaked at #2. She would rack up another five Top-5 singles from this album, including three more #1 hits in the good-timey “Escapade,” the hard-rocking “Black Cat” and the heartbroken “Love Will Never Do (Without You).”

Jackson also produced a 30-minute Rhythm Nation video that blended musical numbers with dramatic segments, winning a Grammy for her efforts. Additional success came to Janet Jackson through the Rhythm Nation Tour, a huge spectacle with scores of dancers that played to sold-out crowds wherever it went. Meanwhile, Rhythm Nation 1814 stayed in the Top-20 area of the album charts for two years solid. She scored yet another Top-10 hit when she sang a duet with Luther Vandross on “The Best Things In Life Are Free” for the soundtrack of Mo’ Money.

For her 1993 album janet, Jackson unveiled a sexier and more mature image. She scored a #1 hit out of the box with the sultry yet funky “That’s The Way Love Goes.” Yet another #1 came by way of the ballad “Again,” which was used in her feature film debut, Poetic Justice. This song was later nominated for an Academy Award. Meanwhile, janet continued to rack up hits with danceable jams like “If” and “You Want This,” not to mention smooth ballads like “Any Time, Any Place.” Meanwhile, Jackson toured the world and played to huge crowds everywhere she went.

In 1995, Janet Jackson lent her voice to “Scream”, a #5 hit by her brother, Michael Jackson. She then celebrated 10 years' worth of chart success with a best-of album, Design Of A Decade 1986/1996. That album also contained “Runaway,” a new track that became a #3 hit. In 1997, Janet Jackson released her most personal work, The Velvet Rope. In its lyrics, she confronted the demons of her past as she commented on tough issues like homophobia and depression. The album entered the charts at #1 and scored a #1 hit with “Together Again,” a song that paid tribute to AIDS victims.

In 1998, Janet Jackson set a new record with her #3 hit “I Get Lonely.” The success of this song made her the artist with the most consecutive Top-10 hits in the history of the Billboard charts. She also embarked on a world tour for The Velvet Rope that included Europe, Africa and Asia. Jackson also had the Madison Square Garden date taped for an HBO special, which later became a top-selling home video.

Today, Jackson is as busy as ever: She lent vocals to Elton John’s The Legend Of Aida album, appeared in The Nutty Professor 2, and has done a series of commercials for Pepsi-Cola. Her sophisticated and innovative work as a performer has made her a diva on the level of Madonna or Whitney Houston, ensuring that she has already earned a place in music history. However, her continued success proves that this multi-media sensation and one-time kid sister still has plenty to offer.

Artist Release History

1982 - Janet Jackson
1984 - Dream Street
1986 - Control
1987 - Control: The Remixes
1989 - Rhythm Nation 1814
1993 - Janet
1995 - Janet Remixed
1995 - Design of a Decade: 1986-1996
1997 - The Velvet Rope

Pop Sub Categories


Essential Music Albums

Design Of A Decade 1986/1996 (A&M)

Band Members

Janet Jackson vocals

Other Pop Music Links