Saturday, November 14, 2009

Janet Jackson discography

Next week pop singer Janet Jackson will drop her second double-disk greatest hits album titled, Number Ones (The Best, in Europe). Here's a in-depth look at Jackson's compelling catalog spanning back to early '80s.


Janet Jackson, 1982 (3.5/5). Janet's music career didn't get off to the best of starts. Her first self-titled album was a blend of '80s disco and uptempo funk that was suppose to set the charts alight, but that wasn't the case, released in the same year as brother Michael's Thriller, that wasn't going to happen and ultimately flopped although not without scoring the R&B hit "Young Love," which earned Jackson her first top 10 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts and whilst follow-up singles failed to generate any interest for the album, the results weren't bad--or as dismal as critics indicated--Jackson's subtle vocal and the disco-influenced production made for some good '80s dance-pop, such as the frothy and lighthearted "You'll Never Find (A Love Like Mine)" or strutting horn and synth backed "Don't Up Mess Up This Good Thing," even holding up its end on ballads such as "Love and My Best Friend" and "Forever Yours," however still managing to cram in a side of uncanny filler. Best: Young Love, You'll Never Find (A Love Like Mine), Say You Do, Love and My Best Friend, Forever Yours.

Dream Steet, 1984 (3/5). Like her first album, Dream Sreet was still an uninspired ode to light '80s disco pop described as 'bubblegum soul.' It became an even lesser success than Janet Jackson, with the uptempo synth laden "Don't Stand Another Chance" becoming the albums only single to chart in the US, it was definitely not the success Jackson had hoped it would be however like Janet Jackson, it wasn't as underwhelming as critics had deemed it. It was probably more solid and consistent, leading away from the strict disco sound and indulging a more apparent blend of soul and pop. Mid-tempo "Fast Girls" thrives as Jackson cooes a cool chorus, frothy "Two to the Power of Love" and Michael Jackson produced "All My Love to You" are pretty good too. Best: Fast Girls, Two to the Power of Love, Dream Street.

Control, 1986 (4.5/5). After two back-to-back flops, Janet finally delivered the blockbuster everyone had been waiting for. Seeking the help of producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who would become staples in her career from here on and firing her father Joseph Jackson as her manager, Control was born. A striking declaration of Independence. The lyrics became deeper, the bass lines became more consistent and the compositions became more tighter, showing her artistic flair, earning her first all-round great album and era, which began from the feisty "What Have You Done for Me Lately" a simple yet compelling ode to lazy boyfriends and as well as introducing to the world those legendary Janet dance-moves choreographed by Paula Abdul in its accompanying video, also began a string of 5 top 5 hits, which ran through "Nasty," famous for the line: ("No, my name is not baby. It's Janet. Miss. Jackson if your nasty"), Her first #1 "When I Think of You," "Control," and personal favorites "Let's Wait Awhile" and "The Pleasure Principle," which only peaked at #12 but was a success either way and so was Control as it became Jackson's first to top the Billboard 200 as well as earning her four nominations at the Grammys. Not too shabby for a third try. Best: Lets Wait Awhile, Nasty, What Have You Done for Me Lately, Control, The Pleasure Principle.

Rhythm Nation 1814, 1989 (5/5). Three years later Janet returned continuing her streak of success as she delivered one of the best pop albums of all time. Now a certified pop star, Jackson could explore different territories regarding the message she wanted elude from her music, in this case Rhythm Nation 1814 was a politically and socially fueled project--conjuring up that feeling of strong emotion with cutting-edge bass lines and Jackson's fairly bold vocals like on opening track "Rhythm Nation" a Michael Jackson-esque clanging '80s hard hitting stomper with a brilliant chorus. If Control was her most aggressive then Rhythm Nation was more most confident and undaunted. The production was more crisp and invigorating, like the retro "The Knowledge" a skittering jab at the education system and "Miss You Much" which began a string of 7 top 5 hits, which made Rhythm Nation the only album to achieve this. Synth-driven ballad "Love Will Never Do (Without You)," rock-influenced "Black Cat" and buoyant "Escapade" are just among the many tracks of the 20 track set (excluding Jackson's infamous 5 second interludes, this would be the first time she'd used them) that made the album one of the books. Best: Rhythm Nation, Miss You Much, Love Will Never Do (Without You), State of the World, Black Cat, The Knowledge, Livin' In a World (They Didn't Make), Alright.

janet, 1993 (4.5/5). For her fifth album Janet really came into her own, stripping down and baring herself musically and visually for the first time--hence the title of the album--delivering a sultry blend of R&B, soul, rock, pop, dance and jazz an ultimately well-rounded album that solidified Jackson yet another winner. Driven by the magnificent production work of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, janet. adopted the New Jack Swing sound that found popularity in the early '90s, which was the main sound behind the silky lead single "That's the Way Love Goes" and the more uptempo's "You Want This" and "Because of Love." Whilst collectively a more lighter album than Rhythm Nation, Jackson still found room to elude her frustrations (wich came in the form of sex or anger) on here, like the cutting edge masterpiece "If," "New Agenda," which talks about racism in America, the haunting, operatic "This Time" and the albums most sensual point "Any Time, Any Place." Whilst mostly everything on here works, there are some awkward moments such as the Nu Jazz-influenced "Throb" and the bland Brazilian-influenced "The Body that Loves You." Best: That's the Way love Goes, If, New Agenda, This Time, Again, You Want This, Because of Love.

The Velvet Rope, 1997 (4.5/5). After a four year long break (two of those years filled with personal endeavours and depression for Janet) she returned with her sixth album, the darkest offering of her career--an aphotic blend of electronica, pop, soul and jazz. And whilst Jackson was definitely not on happy trails, The Velvet Rope worked very well, the 77-minute set tells the story of overcoming boundaries and embracing self-empowerment, which the orchestration-heavy title track "Velvet Rope" featuring violin player Vanessa-Mae implies. The album dealt with a cluster of sensitive subjects such as domestic abuse with the aggressive rock-influenced "What About," loneliness with the bold R&B flavored "I Get Lonely," being afraid of love with the angelic piano laced "Every Time," sexuality with the jazz-influenced semi instrumental "Free Xone" and remake of Rod Stewart's' "Tonight's the Night," AIDS with the albums biggest hit "Together Again" and lastly, sexual outlets with the otherworldly "Empty" which talks about sexual endeavours over the Internet and the seductive "Rope Burn." Best: I Get Lonely, Velvet Rope, Together Again, What About, Tonight's the Night, Every Time, Empty, You, Got 'Til It's Gone.

All for You, 2001 (4/5) Showcasing a more lighter more frothier sound, Janet returned at the beginning of the decade with her seventh album, a more comfortable and easy blend of pop and R&B as the title track "All for You" encloses. And whilst Janet had eluded her anger and depression, her sexual desiers were still there as she expresses on a string of horny ballads, which begin at track 6 "When We Oooo" and works its way through "China Love," and "Love Scene (Ooh Baby)," and ends at track 9 when finally goes all out on her most sexually driven anthem to date "Would You Mind," even simulating the sounds of sex towards the end of the song. I like All for You a lot however it's not as consistent as her previous three albums, while the sound is mainly pop--she tried to divert to too many thing such as the out of place but still good rock-influenced "Trust a Try" and the albums biggest mis-step, but still personal favorite "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song is About You)," but the albums saves itself as it still delivered a handful of good songs such as merry guitar strung "Someone to Call My Lover," mellow R&B-influenced "Feel So Right," Nutty Professor II theme "Doesn't Really Matter" and dated but still enjoyable closing track "Better Days." Best: All for You, Someone to Call My Lover, Would You Mind, Feels So Right, Truth, Doesn't Really Matter, Trust a Try, Son of a Gun.

Damita Jo, 2004 (4/5). If off the bat you would dub Damita Jo a 'bad' album then you probably haven't given it a fair listen. After shocking America by revealing her nipple at the 2004 Superbowl (Oh, Justin Timberlake was involved in that too, or did you forget?) Janet's eighth album was destined to flop and ultimately succumb to unfair reviews. The three singles it spawned were blacklisted by pop radio--they were also the albums biggest highlights--the electronic guitar studded "Just a Little While," Motown-influenced "I Want You" and the funky, heavily dance orientated "All Nite (Don't Stop)." And whilst I'll admit there's a fair bit of the album that isn't up to par, there's a lot of good songs on here such as Kanye West -penned "My Baby," laid back summer anthem "Spending Time with You," disco-influenced "SloLove" and R&B sounding "Like You Don't Love Me." Best: Just a Little While, I Want You, My Baby, Like You Don't Love Me, SloLove, Spending Time with You, All Nite (Don't Stop), Damita Jo, Strawberry Bounce.

20 Y.O, 2006 (2.5/5). Celebrating 20 years of Control was Janet's ninth album--which became yet another sales failure and only spawning one hit, "Call on Me" with Nelly that only managed a peak #25 in the US. For the most part I thought the album was lazy and uninspired and Janet's "return" to modern R&B failed to give the album any sort of edge, however despite being quite lackluster there is a couple of good songs such as the dramatic R&B flavoured "Do it 2 Me," the electronic guitar studded "This Body," string and piano laced ballad "With U" and the lighthearted "Enjoy." Best: Enjoy, With U, Do it 2 Me, This Body, Call on Me.

Discipline, 2008 (3/5). I've been quite bi-polar about Janet's tenth album--I liked it when I first heard it but then I realized it wasn't very strong on its own let alone if you compared to anything post-All for You however it was a wide improvement over 20.Y.O. The electronic stomping of "Feedback" was a highlight (also earning Jackson her first top 20 hit in over 7 years). The urban-flavored "LUV," disco-influenced "2Nite" were pretty good too, but there wasn't much to take into account especially after the second half sagged so much. I liked the two ballads "Never Letchu Go" and "Greatest X" and the closing mid-tempo "Curtains." Best: Feedback, LUV, Greatest X, Never Letchu Go, Curtains, 2Nite.

6 comments :

Paul said...

I was a massive fan from Control to All For You. It sort of died off for me around Damita Jo and I haven't fully been won back yet :/ She did had some amazing tunes though during her hey day with me though If remains my absolute fave :)

ww_adh said...

It died off for me around All for You, but in the late '80s and '90s I was a HUGE Janet fan. I'd probably give Control and Janet 5s.

J.Mensah said...

I wanted to give janet. a 5 but "The Body that Loves You," "Throb" and "Funky Big Band" I don't like at all.

ww_adh said...

Funky Big Band is the album's weakest moment, but every other song I like.

Ganns said...

First time for this lurker to comment. :)

On my personal list, I'd elevate "Discipline" to the same level as "The Velvet Rope"; I enjoyed the title track and the novelty of "So Much Better." "Throb" is also one of my favorites off "Janet."

We can always agree to disagree.

Keep up the great work! :)

J.Mensah said...

Thank Yoouu for commeting! =] Appreciate it! Wow! We're complete oppisites when it comes to janet. lol