It is not easy to make a name for yourself when you are the mere sister of the King of Pop! But Janet Jackson managed this by becoming one of the biggest female pop stars of the 80s and 90s. With hit after hit, the American artist imposed herself on pop and R&B charts all over the world, proving to be a formidable competitor for contemporary singers such as Madonna and Whitney Houston. This group of artists all arrived, of course, from out of the shadow of the great Michael Jackson.
Janet Damita Jo Jackson was born in Indiana in 1966, at a time in which her older brothers had already become famous as members of the Jackson 5. She was the youngest child of the Jackson family and began her acting career in 1977, at only ten years old, in the sitcom ‘Good Times’. It was in 1982 when, pushed by her father, she launched into the music industry by releasing her debut self-titled album, which did not really make much of a splash. Her follow-up record, Dream Stream, was released in 1984, and was also received largely as a commercial failure. After a period of doubt, and rebellion against her parents, Jackson was eventually taken under the wings of her manager John McClain, and her production/songwriting team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. With this fine team at her heels, she collaborated on and released the Control album in 1986, which was revealed to the world through meticulously produced videos. Six singles were taken from this disc, each becoming a hit. Janet Jackson cultivated a strong female image, becoming a role model for the rest of her contemporaries.
Jam and Lewis continued to work wonders on the long-awaited Rhythm Nation 1814, which was released in 1989. Janet Jackson became the first artist to release seven singles from the same album that all reached the top five of the charts (a record that even her brother had never set). Heavily successful, then, Jackson left A&M Records to sign with Virgin. Once on this new record company, she decided to slightly modify her image and sound, writing a duet with Luther Vandross in 1992 entitled ‘The Best Things in Life Are Free’. This became a hit R&B single and video. On her first album for Virgin, released the following year, Janet crafted a collection of warmer titles, with slightly funkier rhythms than her previous work. The single ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’ would become her greatest success.
The year 1995 marked the release of the single ‘Scream’, a duet with her brother Michael. Janet Jackson then waited until 1997 for the release of The Velvet Rose, her most personal and intimate album to date, on which the Jam and Lewis production duo continued to concoct hits galore for her. More ambitious than its predecessors, the disc was somewhat coldly received in terms of sales and reviews. After participating in the Eddie Murphy film ‘The Nutty Family’, she released the album All for You in 2001, which immediately rose to the top of the charts. After a triumphant tour, she returned to the studio in 2003, still with the producers Jam and Lewis, as well as a certain Kanye West.
A ‘scandal’ then came close to tarnishing her image in 2004. During the half-time performance of the Superbowl, she sang alongside Justin Timberlake, who snatched accidentally at a part of her cloak, revealing one of her breasts in front of millions of viewers. The ‘scandal’ was huge in the United States, and the artist was forced to apologize publicly, whilst at the same time somehow continuing to promote her new album Damita Jo. This album disappointed, and its successor, 20 Y.O (2006), was not much better. Faced with disappointing sales records and a lack of support on the part of Virgin, Janet Jackson decided to change her record label, signing with Island Records to release her tenth studio album Discipline in 2008. This record was marked by the absence in participation of the two iconic producers, Jam and Lewis.
After seven years of silence, during which she had to deal with the death of her brother Michael, Janet is back with the album Unbreakable, released on her own imprint Rhythm Nation Records.
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