Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966 in Gary, Indiana) is an American recording artist and actress. Born in Gary, Indiana, and raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Encino, California, she is the youngest child of the Jackson family of musicians and the younger sister of Michael. She first performed on stage with her family beginning at the age of seven, and later started her career as an actress with the variety television series The Jacksons in 1976. She went on to appear in other television shows throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, including Good Times, Diff'rent Strokes, and Fame.
At age sixteen in 1982, she signed a recording contract with A&M, releasing her self-titled debut album the same year. She faced criticism for her limited vocal range, and for being yet another member of the Jackson family trying to ride Michael's coattails to easy fame.note After her second album Dream Street (1984) flopped, Janet began a long-term collaboration with record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to produce her third album Control (1986), even temporarily moving to their hometown of Minneapolis during production specifically to distance herself from her family. Her music with Jam and Lewis incorporated elements of rhythm and blues, disco, funk, rap with sample loop, triplet swing, and industrial beats. Its unique sound led to crossover appeal in popular music (rare for black artists at the time) and pioneered the New Jack Swing subgenre of R&B. In addition to receiving recognition for the innovation in her albums, choreography, music videos, and prominence on MTV, Jackson was also acknowledged as a role model for her socially conscious lyrics.
In 1991, she signed the first of two record-breaking, multi-million dollar recording contracts with Virgin Records, which established her as one of the highest paid artists in the music industry. Her debut album under the Virgin label, janet. (1993), saw Jackson develop a public image as a sex symbol as she began to explore sexuality in her work. That same year, she appeared in her first starring film role in Poetic Justice opposite Tupac Shakur; since then she has continued to act in feature films. By the end of the 1990s, she was named the second most successful recording artist of the decade. All for You (2001) became her fifth consecutive studio album to hit number one on the Billboard 200 album charts. In 2007, she changed labels, signing with the Island Def Jam Music Group and released her tenth studio album Discipline the following year.
Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Jackson is ranked as one of the best-selling artists in the history of contemporary music. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lists her as the eleventh best-selling female artist in the United States, with 26 million certified albums. Her longevity, records and achievements reflect her influence in shaping and redefining the scope of popular music. She has been cited as an inspiration among numerous performers.
She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019 on her third nomination.
- Janet Jackson (1982)
- Dream Street (1984)
- Control (1986)
- Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)
- janet. (1993)
- The Velvet Rope (1997)
- All For You (2001)
- Damita Jo (2004)
- 20 Y.O. (2006)
- Discipline (2008)
- Unbreakable (2015)
- Black Diamond (TBD)
- Control: The Remixes (1987)
- janet. Remixed (1995)
- "When I Think of You"
- "Let's Wait Awhile"
- "What Have You Done For Me Lately?"
- "The Pleasure Principle"
- "Diamonds" (with Herb Alpert & Lisa Keith)
- "Funny How Time Flies (When You're Having Fun)"
- "Miss You Much"
- "Rhythm Nation"
- "Come Back to Me"
- "Black Cat"
- "Love Will Never Do (Without You)"
- "The Best Things in Life Are Free" (With Luthor Vandross)
- "That's the Way Love Goes"
- "Any Time, Any Place"
- "Scream" (With Michael Jackson)
- "You Want This"
- "Twenty Foreplay"
- "Got 'til It's Gone"
- "Together Again"
- "I Get Lonely" (featuring Blackstreet)
- "What's It Gonna Be?!" (with Busta Rhymes)
- "No Sleeep" (with J. Cole)
- Poetic Justice (1993) as Justice
- Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000) as Professor Denise Gaines
- Why Did I Get Married? (2007) as Dr. Patricia Agnew
- Why Did I Get Married Too?? (2010) as Dr. Patricia Agnew
- For Colored Girls (2010) as Joanna/Red
Janet Jackson is the Trope Namer for:
"Tropes Will Never Do Without You":
- Absurdly Elderly Mother: She gave birth to her son Eissa al Manna at the age of 50 through a completely natural conception.
- Alternate Music Video: "Together Again" has two music videos: The most famous one, directed by Seb Janiak, features Janet and several backup dancers in an Afrofuturistic paradise set on the Serengeti. The lesser-known version made for the "Deeper Remix", directed by Jackson's then-husband Rene Elizondo Jr., depicts her in an apartment remembering a lost lover.
- Anvilicious: Invoked by VH1 with a warning about why Janet was performing her Cluster F-Bomb Domestic Abuse "The Reason You Suck" Speech "What About" at the 1998 VH1 Fashion Awards as opposed to one of her lighter, catchier songs.
- Artistic License – Biology: She reportedly refused to kiss Tupac Shakur, her co-star in Poetic Justice, until he was tested for HIV, even though it was common knowledge by the early 90's that the virus is not transmitted that way.
- Apparently, it was just a publicity stunt/rumor planted by John Singleton, who told Tupac to put out the story just for more buzz for the film.
- Auto-Tune: Employs this to full effect in "All For You".
- Big Brother Worship: She's seen by many as the female version of Michael, although that may be an oversimplification.
- Bilingual Bonus: The intro and outro of "Funny How Time Flies (When You're Having Fun)" is spoken in French.
- Brains and Bondage: The Velvet Rope, arguably her most intellectual album where she addresses topics such as social isolation, depression, and spousal abuse, also explores her BDSM kink.
- Breakout Character: Real Life version. She is the only Jackson not primarily identified by her relationship to Michael.
- Brother–Sister Team: "Scream" duet with Michael on his HIStory album.
- When she was younger, she would also team up with Randy◊ to perform in the Jacksons TV show.
- B-Side: She even says it at the beginning of "And On And On." Other b-sides include "You Need Me," "One More Chance," and "70's Love Groove."
- Call-Back: "Shoulda Known Better" from Unbreakable is about the consequences that can arise from making choices that aren't fully thought out. The song ends with a Wham Line:"I had this great epiphanyAnd Rhythm Nation was that dreamI guess next time I'll know better."
- Canon Discontinuity: Pretty much no one cares about her self-titled debut and Dream Street. They're acknowledged on her website, but she never performs songs from them and fans like to treat Control as her "true" debut (as well they should).
- Concept Album: All her "official" albums have been like this, to an extent.
- Control was about becoming independent and discovering relationships.
- Rhythm Nation was about social justice and political agenda, as well as love and hope.
- janet. was about sexual relationships and expressing one's freedom through sex.
- Velvet Rope was about depression as well as continuing Rhythm Nation and janet. 's themes of social issues and sex.
- All For You, Damita Jo and 20 Y.O were about letting go, having fun and having a lighter attitude towards sex.
- Discipline was about the future and dancing. And sex.
- Unbreakable was a reflection on both losing her brother Michael and her breakup with R&B producer Jermaine Dupri. This time, there was very little sex ("No Sleeep" was the sole song on there that alluded to sex, but not in the explicit way typical of Janet songs past) — her marriage to Qatari business magnate Wissam Al Mana and reported conversion to Islam have toned that all down.
- Cover Version: She covered Rod Stewart's "Tonight's The Night" for The Velvet Rope.
- She also covered "Rock with You."
- Darker and Edgier: Rhythm Nation, compared to Control. The Velvet Rope compared to janet. and the rest of her output in general.
- Hand-or-Object Underwear: The poster included in Janet. that was famously reproduced on a September 1993 Rolling Stone cover of her topless with Rene Elizondo standing behind her and covering her breasts with his hands.
- Hotter and Sexier: Janet originally was clothed from neck to toe in nearly all her videos ("Pleasure Principle" being the most notable exception). But she introduced a new, more revealing look with the "Love Will Never Do Without You" video and never looked back. That is until the Unbreakable era.
- The Immodest Orgasm: Seemed to become a habit (at least once per album) from "Throb" on 1993's janet. up to the title track off of 2008's Discipline, where this would occur at some point a song (or interlude). "Throb" and "My Need" off of The Velvet Rope even have her moaning and groaning looped throughout as part of the actual music. And even "Someday Is Tonight" off Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 and "Funny How Time Flies (When You're Having Fun)" off of Control both feature her either breathing in a sexual manner, or moaning suggestively, at some point.
- Intercourse with You: Good lord, woman.
- She even has various songs about specific acts! S&M, public sex, casual party sex, fellatio, cunnilingus, B&D, masturbation, pole dancing, probably plenty of others.
- One of her concert acts is seating a male audience member in a chair on stage and sensually feeling him up. It's safe to assume that said audience member is perfectly okay with this.
- Lighter and Softer: All For You, especially compared to The Velvet Rope.
- Lyrical Dissonance: Subverted with "Together Again"; being a peppy, upbeat pop song about the death of a loved one, you'd think it's this at first, but the lyrics indicate that it's supposed to be about accepting death rather than mourning it and remembering the one who has passed.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: the youngest of ten children.
- "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: From "Nasty" on Control: "Privacy is my middle name; my last name is control."
- The Minneapolis Sound: Control and Rhythm Nation were produced by former Prince associates Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and Janet herself was a big fan of The Time, so it makes sense she was heavy on the sound for those two albums; albeit with a new jack emphasis for Rhythm Nation.
- Ms. Fanservice: Especially during the All For You phase. And as mentioned above, she's been known to (ahem) "service" male fans on stage by feeling them up.
- Naughty By Nature's "It's On" opens with the line, "Put us on a planet damn it where all the slamsters look like Janet."
- New Jack Swing: Control was the album that kickstarted the genre and Janet is one of its most successful artists, behind only Bobby Brown and her brother Michael.
- No Ending: "Special", the last track on The Velvet Rope, ends abruptly after its second verse, with the music cutting out to Janet saying "work in progress", followed by several seconds of silence until the Hidden Track "Can't Be Stopped".
- Obligatory Bondage Song: "Discipline" is a kinky song from a submissive's perspective.
- Older Than They Look: She is currently in her mid 50s but has aged extremely gracefully.
- One-Steve Limit: With "I Get Lonely" from The Velvet Rope being the more popular song, most casual listeners probably don't know about "Lonely" from Rhythm Nation.
- One-Woman Wail: A very long example forms the centerpiece of the last two minutes of "This Time".
- Only Sane Woman: She’s one of the few family members who wasn't trying to sponge off of MJ’s fame."Our next presenter is known around the world as a reigning diva. Around her family, she's known as 'the normal one.' Give it up for Janet Jackson."
- The Rival: She and Madonna had a heated rivalry that lasted until Michael Jackson's death in 2009.
- Sampling: Janet has sampled various songs. Some examples include the following:
- "So Much Betta" samples "Daftendirekt" by Daft Punk.
- "All Nite (Don't Stop)" samples the funky guitar riff from "Hang Up Your Hang Ups" by Herbie Hancock.
- "Someone To Call My Lover" samples the acoustic guitar riff from "Ventura Highway" by America.
- "All For You" samples "The Glow of Love" by Change.
- "Velvet Rope" samples the opening of Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield, also known as the theme to The Exorcist.
- "Rhythm Nation" samples "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" by Sly and the Family Stone.
- She seems to really like this, as it was also sampled for "Scream Louder."
- Self-Deprecation: "Didn't quite hit the note, that wasn't such a good time." from "Runaway."
- Shout-Out: On "70's Love Groove," she references lines from other songs on the janet. album. Namely: "You Want This," "If," "The Body That Loves You."
- Spelling Song: The background vocals in the chorus for "Miss You Much":"M-I-S-S you much"
- Stars Are Souls: "Together Again" (a song about accepting the death of a loved one) has a chorus that goes like this:Everywhere I go
Every smile I see
I know you are there
Smilin' back at me
Dancin' in moonlight
I know you are free
'Cause I can see your star
Shinin' down on me
- Tamer and Chaster: Her 2015 album "Unbreakable" was almost free of sexual content, and is very tame, especially when compared to her previous albums. She is also now fully clothed in concerts, with no real fanservice.
- Trope Codifier: She codified many tropes for female pop/R&B singers in the decades since she became popular, such as her performance style, fashion and even her ability to crossover into the mainstream from R&B music (which historically has been somewhat difficult for non-white artists).
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: A common joke about her and her brother when she first rose to fame was that they were the same person, as she is indeed the one Jackson sibling who looks the most like him. During one award show, they even introduced themselves by saying "See, we are different people!"
- Wanderlust Song: “Runaway”.
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: MC Lyte on "You Want This."
- Youngest Child Wins: The youngest of the family and the last of the three Jackson sisters (Rebbie,La Toya and herself). The only other Jackson to have had a long and successful career.