The Razzmatazz of Janet Jackson

It’s Sunday in Singapore as I write this… Tomorrow is a big day – the Green Bay Packers will face the Pittsburgh Steelers (Go Polamalu!) in the Superbowl, and Janet Jackson is performing here in Singapore tomorrow night. Not that we should talk about the two topics in the same breath anymore, but I do think it’s a special day.

When I was 11 years old, I clearly remember my sister and I standing at Sounds Megastore with our own money and a chance to buy our first album. I won’t say what album my sister got, but I will say that the first full length cassette I ever purchased was Janet Jackson’s “Control”. I wore that tape out – and looking back it was a combination of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ production and that choreography in those music videos that were great.

For me, “Control” and “Rhythm Nation” were massive parts of my childhood – this was back when Janet was wearing the key-earrings and the silver patches and buckles everywhere, and that full production sound of the Flyte Tyme team that had me trying to sweat it out back then as an early teen on the dance floors of my high school socials. I could never dig Janet as much when she released her subsequent albums – mainly because her image and production had changed, and the beats had slowed right down.

To have sold over 100 million albums worldwide over her career is no mean feat. For her to have stepped out of the shadow of her brother Michael and become an artist that has that magnitude of popularity is no joke. But I’ve always wondered when you strip down the elements of what makes Janet Jackson an artist to be reckoned with, what made her so popular.

David Ritz of Rolling Stone magazine said

“Janet’s wispy voice was a pale echo of Michael’s, but on Janet’s albums—and in her videos and live performances, which revealed a crisp, athletic dance technique not unlike her brother’s—singing wasn’t the point. The importance is placed on Janet’s slamming beats, infectious hooks, and impeccable production values.”

So when I heard that Janet was coming, it sounded like a great gig. That was until I read the promotional billing for Janet’s new concert:

Janet has expressed her excitement for the upcoming performance in Singapore by stating, “I’ve seen the world, been to many places :). . . the one thing missing was you. We’ll be together in Singapore on February 7th and I can’t wait to sing, dance, and be up close and personal with all of you. Your votes are helping me decide where to bring this very intimate, very different show. It’s not about effects, it’s not an extravaganza, it’s not about being as big as in the past. This one is all about you and me. I love you Singapore. Let’s go!”

Ok – Now I’m not saying that Janet Jackson has hidden behind the razzle dazzle in her productions of the past shows, but when someone has built the biggest parts of their career on the “extravaganza” of blazing choreography, and a well co-ordinated ground breaking stage show in the past tours, for her to strip her stage show to one of intimacy is going to be wildly different.

I don’t know about you, but as much as I’ve dug Janet in the past, and have bought 5 of the 100 million plus albums she’s sold world wide,  I wouldn’t be the first in line to get a Janet Unplugged album.

My point? Actually it’s a question that I want to pose to anyone reading this:

“Do those who require razzle dazzle in their stage shows as a necessity, deem them any less of an artist than those who don’t?”

For me, it’s a lane thing – find your lane, roll strong in it. Don’t cause traffic jams rubber necking.

Let’s do the thing…

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