Monday, October 05, 2015

Kat's Korner The triumphant return of Janet

Kat: UNBREAKABLE opens with Janet explaining:

I live through my mistakes
It’s just a part of growing
And never for a single moment
Did I ever go without your love
You made me feel wanted
I wanna tell you how important
You are to me, love

She's back, Janet Jackson.   The one and only.


She first made her chart impact when the MIAMI VICE-Phil Collins-Glen Frey nonsense dominated the radio airwaves.  You belong to the air tonight with middle aged male stubble and all of that.

She was the young woman stepping up to demand "What Have You Done For Me Lately?," and to advise "that's Ms. Jackson, if you're nasty" but most of all to inform the world, "Now I'm in control."

And, goodness, wasn't she?

On CONTROL and the four albums that followed, she set the standards for popular music as well as dance music.

One hit after another from CONTROL through ALL FOR YOU.

She is a part of the American fabric as much as the Beatles or the Supremes are.

"Nasty," "Throb," "All For You," "Together Again,"  "Son Of A Gun," "Miss You Much," "When I Think Of You," "Escapade," "Alright," "Black Cat," "I Get Lonely," "Rhythm Nation," "Let's Wait Awhile," "Come Back To Me," "I Get So Lonely," "If," "Love Will Never Do Without You," "Again," "Someone To Call My Lover," "The Pleasure Principle," "That's The Way Love Goes,"  "Runaway," "Because Of Love" . . .

The hits are never ending.

Or were.

March 2004.

She performs at the Superbowl's half-time show.

During the performance -- planed or unplanned -- Justin Timberlake, of the girlish vocals and fey mannerisms, rips off her blouse (as he'd earlier ripped of Kylie Minogue's skirt in a British telecast) to shore up his doubtful manly image.

Janet loses the lead in the ABC tele-biography of Lena Horne.

She loses a lot more than just that.

She's judged and condemned.

Radio has little interest in her.

The dweeb who pulled off her shirt?

Despite the fact that his most viral moment since has been dancing in Beyonce's "Ring On It" as part of a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit, he's still seen -- by the foolish -- as an 'artist.'

Well art's a bit tricky and requires a lot more depth than Timbaf**k could ever offer.

Janet was burned at the stake..

From the ashes, the phoenix rises yet again.

The biggest problem with UNBREAKABLE is picking your favorite track.

There are just too many great songs on this album.

"Damn Baby" echoes her number one dance hit "Throb" in title and quotes from one of her slow-jam classics after a male voice announces, "And now the breakdown."  Quoting from "I Get So Lonely," Janet sings, "Going to break it down, break it down, break it down."

"Shoulda Have Known Better" finds Janet looking at the world around her, not wanting to be "naive" or part of the people who foster abuse.  At the end of the song, as the beat fades, she confesses, "I had this great epiphany and rhythm nation was the dream.  I guess next time I'll know better."

She reteams with Missy Eliott for "Burn It Up" and the piano ballad "After You Fall" reminds the world of just how far Janet's come as a singer since "Don't Stand Another Chance."

This is an album filled with one amazing moment after another.

She's reteamed with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and they understand Janet better than anyone -- not just as co-songwriters but also in terms of arrangements and production.  They give her the space to breathe.

And to strut.

Such as in "The Great Forever" which harkens back to the strong attitude Stevie Wonder sported in multiple songs in the 70s and Lauryn Hill offered on 1997's THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL.

Or there's the funk of "2 B Loved" -- seriously, you will have a very hard time deciding which of these amazing tracks is your personal favorite.

You'll have plenty of time to think it through because UNBREAKABLE is the rare thing in these downloadable days: a true album.

You can listen to it from start to finish with no need to dive for the remote in order to skip a track.

Mainly, UNBREAKABLE reminds you that Janet's a real artist.  As the album draws to a close, Janet's singing "We gon' b alright" and with an album this rich and rewarding, maybe music will be as well.