Janet Jackson

  • R&B and pop singer and songwriter born in 1966 in Gary Indiana.
  • Janet is the youngest of 10 children in the famous entertainment Jackson family, which includes Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, and LaToya Jackson. The Jackson 5 was signed to a recording contract when Janet was 3 years old. She was groomed for a career in the entertainment industry, as she sang at the MGM Casino in Las Vegas when she was 7, and she began acting and singing in the variety show The Jacksons, which ran for 12 episodes in 1976 and 1977. This led to her roles in the sitcoms Good Times, A New Kind of Family, and Diff’rent Strokes, as well as the 1982 musical drama series, Fame.
  • At the age of 16, she was signed to a recording contract, and she released her debut album, the self named Janet Jackson. Her first single, Young Love, reached #6 on the R&B chart, but did not break the top 40 on the Hot 200 chart. Her follow-up album, Dream Street, was released in 1984. It had a couple of minor R&B hits. Both albums were pure bubblegum pop records, in line with the Jackson family expectations of their youngest girl.
  • After this, Jackson broke business ties with the family, wanting to change her image and music. She teamed with record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and in 1986, Control was released. It had 5 singles that landed in the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100, including her first #1 hit – When I Think Of You. Five other songs hit #1 on the R&B chart – What Have You Done For Me Lately, Nasty, Control, Let’s Wait Awhile and The Pleasure Principle. The album sold over 6 million copies in the U.S. and over 10 million worldwide.
  • The new Janet Jackson had taken the world by storm. Her songs were about real concerns – sexual harassment, illiteracy, crime, drugs – and yet were infectious dance pop songs. Her image became more alluring and sexual.
  • Her follow-up album in late 1989 put her in a class with very few others in the music entertainment world – Rhythm Nation 1814. The album was the highest selling album of 1990, with worldwide sales of over 12 million. Six singles hit either #1 or #2 on the Hot 100 chart – Miss You Much, Rhythm Nation, Escapade, Come Back To Me, Black Cat and Love Will Never Do (Without You). She was the first artist ever to have 3 songs hit #1 from the same album in 3 separate years. Her tour to support the album was the most successful debut tour in history. She was anointed “Queen of Pop”, alongside her brother Michael, the “King of Pop.”
  • Jackson’s next album, janet., was released in 1993. It was her biggest selling album worldwide, with over 14 million records sold. There were 6 top 10 singles, with 2 reaching the top of the chart – That’s the Way Love Goes and Again. The album had several styles to it, including R&B, rock, pop, hip-hop and swing jazz. That’s the Way Love Goes won a Grammy award for Best R&B Song.
  • After going through a period of depression and anxiety, Jackson released The Velvet Rope in 1997. Publicity for the album showed Janet with another major change in image – her look included tattoos, piercings and flaming red hair. The album was introspective, reflective of her emotional troubles of the previous several years. The record was massive, again selling over 10 million copies worldwide. Her big single from the album was Together Again. When the second single I Get Lonely made it to #3, she established a record of 18 consecutive top 10 hits, the only female artist ever to do that.
  • Jackson has released 5 more studio albums, from 2001 to 2015. All have hit either #1 or #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart. She is the third artist ever to have a #1 album in 4 decades. Album sales have declined, as music listeners tend to stream music now, plus she was blacklisted by many radio and music channels, after the 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” fiasco. Her music continues to be highly regarded by critics.
  • Jackson’s music videos have helped define her success. Three of her 5 Grammy awards have been in the Music Video category. Jackson was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. Her first Grammy win was for Rhythm Nation – here’s the video.

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