Janet Jackson

Virgin Records, 1993


REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Before she was ruined by the raunch, Janet Jackson was a dance pop princess who seemingly could do no wrong. In 1993, she upped the ante commercially even more by presenting a more personal, laidback side of herself on the middling project that is janet.

There were still scorching upbeat throw-downs like “What’ll I Do” and “If” that heated up many a party back then, but there were also intimate, show-stopping ballads like “Again” and “Where Are You Now” to counterbalance the overlong song cycle. There is so much material to sift through, though, that you immediately get the sense that only a Jackson would be so deliberately extraneous. One thing’s for certain, this family knows how to give us our money’s worth.

Connected by Janet’s trademark dialogue snippets and interludes, the fourteen songs that comprise my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 janet. the album sound more polished than those of the preceding Rhythm Nation: 1814, which was decidedly more confrontational and jarring. As always, there were singles galore to be released, although hits like “Because Of Love” and “Anytime, Anyplace” will surely go down as the least-remembered of her repertoire. The sleeker, sexier Janet Jackson of the ‘90s seemed like a ho-hum let down after the instant appeal of her Miss Independent persona that first took the world by storm in 1986 with the groundbreaking album Control. Janet the shrewd businesswoman was, however, still giving the likes of Madonna and even her own brother Michael a run for their money, as evidenced by her newly inked deal with Virgin Records for an estimated $50 million.

Despite trying on many genres of music on for size, this album is surprisingly cohesive. The problem lies in its watered-down tone, with no songs leaping out of the speakers to leave us with a lasting impression. A track like “Throb,” which tried so hard to be cutting-edge, now comes off as a ridiculous throwaway. “Love To Love You Baby” it ain’t.

In retrospect, janet. is very much a product of the times. Along with her gritty R&B album The Velvet Rope, this set of tunes seems to bridge the gap between the New Jack Swing period (“Funky Big Band”) and the hip-hop era (“That’s The Way Love Goes”). Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are clearly on top of their game here, and it is nice to hear actual singing from their protégé. Unfortunately, Janet’s voice has been reduced to an electronic whisper on her most recent albums, a sign that Jam and Lewis have dropped the ball creatively. No longer the hit machine, Janet Jackson’s heart just doesn‘t seem in it anymore…and you have to wonder whether the Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” and the resulting public flogging is to blame (“Whoops Now” indeed!). After such a career debilitating scandal, Janet became the second Jackson to take such a huge fall from grace. Not even Jam and Lewis could salvage her floundering career, leaving all three of them without hit songs to boast. It is in this way that janet. is a sad reminder of what once was.

Rating: C+

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© 2009 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Virgin Records, and is used for informational purposes only.