7 reasons why the world needs to put more respect on Janet Jackson’s name
Janet Jackson is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic figures in music.
However, many will agree that she doesn’t quite get the respect she deserves at this stage in her illustrious career.
The fight for equality and sexual liberation is tearing its way through the entertainment industry right now, but Ms Jackson has long been an influential figure when it comes to using pop music to rip up the rule book and set a new agenda.
Despite enjoying a glittering career spanning over four decades, the fallout from that ill-fated Super Bowl performance with Justin Timberlake has resulted in the pioneering pop star becoming an underrated music legend.
To even use “underrated” to describe Janet Jackson feels like a crime considering she’s achieved 10 US number one hits, boasts more than 100 million albums sold, and is one of the few women inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
On top of that, the music star has also had an impact within the acting world and through her philanthropical ventures, while she is also beloved for using her influence to uplift marginalized identities like the LGBT+ community.
In fact, Janet Jackson has a legacy that only a few stars can ever achieve. As she prepares to debut her four-part documentary, Janet, here are seven reasons why it’s time the world starts giving the R&B-pop diva the flowers she so rightly deserves.
1. Janet Jackson’s influence is still evident in modern music charts
Janet Jackson might not be releasing as much new music these days (fans are eagerly awaiting her 12th album, which she said in 2020 would be called Black Diamond), but her influence is felt across the industry.
Artists such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Ciara, Normani, Teyana Taylor, and the Destiny’s Child band members have all spoken in the past about how she inspired their careers.
Indeed, the military-style outfits that Beyoncé and her dancers wore at her 2016 Super Bowl Halftime Show performance instantly had fans pointing out the likeness to Jackson’s iconic “Rhythm Nation” look.
Over the years, fans have been able to hear Jackson’s influence in albums such as Rihanna’s Anti, Beyonce’s Lemonade and Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer.
Elsewhere, her distinctive approach to R&B is clear in the projects put out by indie R&B acts such as FKA Twigs, SZA and Kelela.
It’s safe to say Ms Jackson remains the blueprint for modern pop stars.
2. Janet has been vocally supportive of the LGBT+ community
Janet’s music has amassed a huge following within the LGBT+ following, in part because she has long used her fame to speak out against homophobia and call for the world to embrace same-sex love.
In 1997, she released her sixth studio album, The Velvet Rope, which featured tracks such as “Together Again” and “Free Xone” – which were praised for the way they dealt specifically with homophobia.
In 2005, Janet received the Humanitarian Award from the Human Rights Campaign and AIDS Project Los Angeles in recognition of her involvement in raising funds for AIDS Charities and went on to receive the Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2008.
During her career, Janet regularly hired queer dancers for her music videos and stage performances, and she’s also spoken out in support of LGBT+ organisations such as The Trevor Project and the It Gets Better Project.
Meanwhile, her 2018 track “Rock With You” featured an appearance from trans entertainer Mimi Marks and the song was specifically written for her gay fans.
3. She always pushed for female empowerment within the industry
Being anything other than a man in the music industry is quite the struggle and Janet Jackon was one of the first women to truly take the reins of her own career.
Her breakthrough album, Control, detailed her struggle to emancipate herself from her famous family – and her controlling father, Joe Jackson.
In a move that should inspire all generations, the singer chose to become the creative director of her own career by ensuring she had a hand in writing and producing songs on every single one of her albums.
In fact, Janet now has her own record label after she launched Rhythm Nation Records in 2018.
4. She’s a trailblazer when it comes to sexual liberation
Considering one of her most famous lyrics is “Ms Jackson, if ya nasty”, it would be a crime not to mention the way the singer empowered women to explore their sexual side.
1993 saw the singer own her sexuality like never before when her hit single, “If”, saw her fantasizing about the things we wanted to do with a lover.
Meanwhile, her 1997 album The Velvet Rope explored everything from bondage, bisexuality and masturbation within her music.
By the release of the 2001 track “Would You Mind”, Jackson was demanding oral sex and orgasms like a boss.
5. Janet is the undisputed queen of dance breaks
It is an undeniable fact that Janet Jackson does a dance break like no other.
The fact that dance breaks remain such a pivotal moment in music videos and live performances across the world highlights just how much Janet changed the game when it came to delivering moments that always blew fans away.
Indeed, the singer’s choreography and style is yet another aspect that cements her as one of the powerful female pop icons.
6. She’s also constantly slayed in the acting world
Before she cemented her status as a pop star, Janet Jackson proved she was a triple threat with plenty of TV roles and appearances.
As a child, she starred alongside her family in The Jacksons before going on to land roles on popular shows such as Good Times and Diff’rent Strokes.
The teen star then landed her role as Cleo in season four of the Fame TV series in the 80s. She left to record her game-changing album, Control.
The hitmaker made her return to acting with the iconic 1993 movie, Poetic Justice, which saw her star along with the likes of Tupac Shakur and Regina King.
Janet only graced the big screen for select projects, including 2000’s Nutty Professor II: The Klumps alongside Eddie Murphy.
She then collaborated with Tyler Perry for three films in a row with Why Did I Get Married?, Why Did I Get Married Too? and For Colored Girls.
Not many singers can say they’ve been able to enjoy a successful acting career alongside their musical releases.
7. Her legacy deserves more than the Super Bowl scandal
The 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show resulted in the most notorious moment in Janet Jackson’s career.
The ensuing controversy saw her become an industry pariah, with many radio and television stations blacklisting her. She’d been one of – if not the – world’s biggest pop stars, but Janet’s career in the mainstream never fully recovered.
Fans have always argued that if the overreaction to the wardrobe malfunction didn’t have a negative effect on Justin Timberlake’s career, then there was no reason why Janet was made to suffer in the way she was.
As ever, the singer dealt with the resulting uproar with class and continued to make music, tour the world and get on with her private life.
But she should never have been forced to endure such severe backlash over the issue – and more importantly, this cannot be the only moment that gets mentioned about the career of a musician who secured a number one album on the Billboard 200 across four decades and logged 18 consecutive top 10 hits between 1989’s “Miss You Much” and 1998’s “I Get Lonely”.
There are so many other reasons why Janet Jackson is one of the most commercially successful and culturally important artists of all time.
Thankfully, her new documentary special is putting her incredible career back in the limelight and is a timely reminder for music lovers – old and new – that Ms Jackson truly is the best to ever do it.
The four-part documentary will premiere in the UK with a two-night special on Sky Documentaries and NOW on 31 January. The double-bill will air over two consecutive nights, with parts three and four to premiere in the following weeks.
Meanwhile, US fans can watch the first part of the documentary on 28 January on Lifetime.