Time sure does fly, and we’re celebrating three decades since Janet Jackson delivered her eponymous album. Thirty years ago, on May 18, 1993, Jackson released her sensual, groundbreaking project, Janet. As fans of the music icon are aware, the ’90s was a golden era for music. By the time the decade rolled around, Jackson was already a bonafide star. Her role at Good Times put her in living rooms every week. As a member of the illustrious Jackson family, the world knew her before she learned how to ride a bike. Iconic producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis would craft songs that made Jackson a radio star. However, Janet was a monumental shift for the hitmaker. Let’s look back at the singer’s fifth studio album.
Exploring New Themes
Because of her last name, people believed Janet was destined for greatness. She stepped into the limelight as a child alongside her superstar siblings. Her solo debut came in 1982 with the release of her self-titled album, Janet Jackson. However, her third album, Control, in 1986, catapulted her to stardom. We saw Jackson become her own woman, navigating a career away from her family.
Yet, the release of Janet cemented Ms. Jackson as a Pop-R&B star. The album showcased Janet’s more sensual and mature side, allowing her to break free from the shadow of her legendary brother, Michael Jackson. The record’s essence and appeal stemmed from exploring love, sensuality, and self-expression, weaving these themes together with infectious rhythms. The theme resonated with listeners, and soon, Janet became a commercial powerhouse. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
The album also spawned six Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including the chart-topping hits “That’s the Way Love Goes” and “Again.” The response from critics was equally enthusiastic, as they praised the album’s concept and execution. They applauded her ability to seamlessly blend various musical genres, such as Pop, R&B, and Hip Hop, creating a distinctive sound that complemented Jackson’s often soft deliveries. Many also lauded Janet’s evolution as an artist, as she fearlessly pushed boundaries and tackled subjects that were considered taboo at the time.
A Shift In The Tide
Janet is a pivotal moment in Jackson’s career compared to her other releases. It was a daring departure from her previous work, which primarily focused on seeking—and often demanding—respect. Janet played a crucial role in shaping the singer’s career trajectory. It allowed her to establish herself as an artist who could successfully reinvent herself and acclimate to the ever-evolving music landscape. Her adaptability and willingness to take risks would become a hallmark of her career, as seen in subsequent albums such as The Velvet Rope and All for You.
Additionally, Janet would impact many icons in the making. Beyoncé and Rihanna cited Jackson as a significant influence on their style and approach to music. Jackson is, and continues to be, an undeniable trailblazer in entertainment. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Janet, it’s essential to recognize its significance in the singer’s career and the broader context of pop culture. The album pushed boundaries, broke taboos, and paved the way for future artists to follow in Janet’s footsteps.