Which of 'janet.''s 28 tracks (there's a lot of interludes) has endured the most? Read on for our classic track-by-track review.
"Control" may have been her breakout, and "Rhythm Nation 1814" her breakthrough with a whopping seven singles reaching the top 5 of the Hot 100 (the only album to do so.) But Janet Jackson's "janet.," which turns 20 on May 18, may be her real creative triumph.
Released the day after Jackson's 27th birthday, "janet." finds the singer fully embracing her womanhood and sexuality in ways she barely touched upon on previous releases. Gone was the chaste teenager who sang "Let's Wait Awhile," and in her place was a woman who wanted to get it on in public and "boom boom boom until noon noon noon," as she memorably purrs on "Throb." Released seven months after Madonna's "Erotica," "janet." arrived at a time where female pop stars were just beginning to put sex front and center in their image (the cover of "janet." was a cropped shot of her infamous topless "Rolling Stone" cover) as well as their pop songs, and with often thrilling results.
Produced largely by longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, "janet." is both a product of its era (the New Jack Swing sound of the early 90s infiltrates its way into singles like "Because of Love" and "You Want This") and utterly timeless (Kendrick Lamar's recent top 30 hit "Poetic Justice" is not only built around Janet's "Any Time Any Place," its title is of course a reference to her title role in John Singleton movie, also released in 1993.) It was also one of the first major pop albums to incorporate between-song spoken-word interludes, a practice that has now become commonplace on R&B and hip-hop albums ranging from "CrazySexyCool" and "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill" to, more recently, Lamar's own "Good Kidd M.A.A.D. City."
Other musical references to "janet." have been popping up all over the indie circuit in the past year alone, from How To Dress Well's sincere, stripped-down cover of "Again" to Moon Boots' "If"-sampling "Sugar" to British singer MNEK's reverent cover of "That's The Way Love Goes." And beyond "janet.," the Jam/Lewis Minneapolis sound has been revived quite a bit on new record from The-Dream to Inc. to recent Mad Decent signing LIZ, whose single "XTC" all but lifts the synths from the "Rhythm Nation" era.
Jackson herself has been quiet on the music front in recent years, with 2008's "Discipline" already a distant memory with only one charting single and only a handful of tracks released in the years since (2009's "Make Me," 2010's "Nothing.") In a March 2012 interview with That Grape Juice, Jackson indicated she would be spending last summer putting together a new album. But any progress seems to have been shelved for the time being after she secretly married Wissam Al Mana.