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February 27, 2008



sad. Almost like she's the oldest kid at the party, trying too hard to be young and fresh.


God, I effing love you. I feel so many ways about her album. I keep telling some friends, it's amazing, and other friends that is just "solid" and easily forgettable. Had it have been two years her album truly would have been seen as amazing. Blackout got critical acclaim but the thing is Britney and Janet with the same route. My thing with Janet is that she was so fresh and innovative because she did the things she did back then first. But now its like 2008 and she's done it all so many times before what else can she do except wear poorly managed wigs on an even poorer performance of feedback on MTV and The Good morning America show? I mean Janet Jackson had been gone for how many years before the super bowl? She came back and the new young blood had done what she could have did while she was gone. She is working with producers that already gained their fame and notoriety from others and so once the likes of Danja (rollercoaster) and JD (So Much Betta) started working with her on amazing tracks, they are able to be passed up because everyone else had already done it. But you have to realize that Janet was so innovative because new ideas were available during her time, but we're in such an accepting society (well at least in Los Angeles California), that one must ask. What can be done next? Like what will Mariah talk about in April? Or Beyonce in the fall? Or Missy in the summer? Music isn't in a place to make statements right now, and I think it makes a comment on the generation she is in. So maybe we should forgive Janet for trying to make her money by going along with what society calls for at the time she chooses to release new music?

Bears are Fat

The Jackson empire crumbles and crumbles. Ain't no livin' in Neverland no more: the place is up for sale.

Poor Janet. It would be one thing if she could sustain her stardom through touring, as a lot of legends do. But when was the last time she even toured?


OK, I know next to nothing about Janet Jackson's music (the only thing I have is Design Of A Decade, which I think I may have listened to 4 times), but I've gotta tell you that I think your writing comes second only to John Darnielle's in convincing me to check things out. Good work!!


I agree with everything you said. So true. I feel bad for Janet but you got to know when it's time to walk away.


i agree with much that was said in your article, i simply can't help but to wonder how you felt about Madonna's Confessions on a dancefloor?
that cd was a total rip off of everything that was done in the past and she gets a pass because she's madonna. Janet on the other hand, is put under a microscope and scrutinized.
i'm anticipating your Madonna review to see whether you'll be just as hard on her as you were on Janet. Madonna's doing her hip hop shitick this time around .. something that was coined and done by Mariah in early 90s.


Donny B

Bears are Fat, apparently Janet is planning on touring in September.

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

I am in Patrick's boat - don't know sooo much about Janet (I only own All For You - but I really love that song 'Trust A Try') but nothing makes me want to listen to music like your review/commentaries. I really enjoy your writing - you are so much more on to it than most of the writers I read in music magazines :)


Great post, but I beg to differ about "LUV" being one of the album's "perfect moments." If anything, I thought it was one of the most derivative. Those textured synths are entirely too recognizable from the umpteen other songs on the radio that feature them. And while I know your entire point is that the album is derived from five-minutes-ago pop trends, I thought Janet seemed especially diminished on that track.

My personal favorite song on the album is "So Much Betta," regardless of the Daft Punk sample. It's definitely used more creatively than the one in "Stronger." The beat is so menacing. I think it's one of the greatest strutting songs of all time. They should totes be using it in the ANTM ads instead of "Feedback."

I've also been an impassioned Janet enthusiast since the 80s, and I share your dismay over her decline. I think she might be one of the finest major examples of what happens to tiny-voiced pop superstars as they get older and their careers fester. And unlike Madonna or Paula Abdul, Janet hasn't attempted to reinvent herself since the mid-90s, so she hasn't enjoyed any of their ongoing (relative) success.

She started her current, loads of interludes, vaguely conceptual album format on "Rhythm Nation," refined it on "janet," perfected it with "The Velvet Rope," and has been sticking to it ever since. But the public isn't interested in seeing her do the same thing anymore, and she simply doesn't have the voice (literally or figuratively) to cultivate enduring interest. But if she remains connected to reality as she has recently, maybe the next album will be what this album should have been.

Oh, and this album is nowhere near as shamelessly derivative as Kylie Minogue's "X."


Am I the only one who saw the cover & thought of the EW Dixie Chick's cover post-"we're ashamed to be from Texas" backlash that featured naked Chicks with words written all over them?
House of Jules


I have been a huge JJ fan since Control, and have seen her in concert 3 times. I'm really disappointed. When Damita Jo came out, I was really annoyed by it - it seems as if she was pushing the line to see how shocking her lyrics could be. Then 20YO came out, and I wanted her to dump Jermaine Durpri's ass and then speed-dial JJ and Terry Lewis. Her voice has not been supported by her music in the last 3 albums -- her timid sound is overpowered by the music, almost.

It seems as if she refuses to evolve or grow as she gets older. She could reinvent herself and bring out a new type of Janet, with some really great music, but we keep getting the same old nymphomanic Janet that came out of the closet when janet. hit and she hasn't gone away yet. It's sad to see, and ultimately, sad to hear.


I forgot where I read this, but yesterday someone had compiled a group of Jackson's latest reviews...It was unanimous and not at all pretty. ( I was suprised Ann Powers was so generous to her.)

Girlfriend needs to wisen up and grow up. Turn the page Janet.


She looks like Amanda Lepore in that pic


After listening to Feedback, I was expecting a heavier, more electric (digital?) Janet. Sadly, it was the only time it happened on the album.

For some reason, I don't know why she continues to alienate people by filling an album with endless breathy (or moaning) ballads and not giving them what they want: ass-shaking, club thumping music.

Like her past two albums, it's not bad, but it could've been so much betta.


I've been anticipating this album because I sensed a new excitement behind it that was missing in her previous two. I have yet to hear the album, but I'm sad to hear your assessment because I often agree with your critiques (NOTE: I still think you were way off on Amerie's latest). I definitely co-sign with you... Janet needs to run back to the loving arms of Jimmy and Terry expeditiously.

Labia Minora-Majora

Three Words:
Dump Troll DuPri!!

He executive produced the album with her. When will she get that he and her make (literally) HORRIBLE music together!

JD works well with Usher, Mariah and others but not with Janet. Like you, I am also a Jan Fan from the 90s and I agree with your (and Kenna) assessment 100%!


Marie, actually they haven't been unanimous at all. They're all over the place, some good, some bad, some inbetween.



^ I meant of the ones they listed, hun...I should've been clearer.

Thank you though. I'll check it out. :D


Forget her! Erykah's new album came out today, guaranteed to be 100x better than Janet's!


I am a huge Janet fan, but I feel the Superbowl really has been Kryptonite to her career. Damita Jo and 20 YO were off, shots in the dark. Both would have probably done significantly better without a superbowl backlash and a media blacklisting. Not to say either were that great, but they would have fared better than they did.

As for Discipline, first I want to comment on the assessment of the title track that was written by EW. I felt it was not only ageist, but way off, considering it one of the more tactful songs of this type that Janet has made. It is no where near as raunchy as some of what is found on Damita Jo, or even All For You.
I think Janet gets alot of flack critically for being 41, any song she makes age appropriate or not gets a negative slant by virtue of her not being a spring chicken. Make a tasteful song and all of a sudden you are old and stale. Make a song for the clubs and all of a sudden you are desperate. She is in a bubble of public opinion that since 2004 she can't seem to win. Discipline as a whole doesn't necessarily sound dated in my opinion, but it is definitely hyper-conscious of what it and record execs think people want from her. The album is the most listenable she has made in quite a while (minus the two or so bland rnb ballads). I think we dish out a level of criticism that could easily be cut and pasted onto Madonna, but madonna avoids it not musically (she if anything, is derivation personified), but in PR. It's easy to be good when people already assume you are and will be. The same criticism of Discipline being great for 2 years ago could have easily been leveled at Confessions (where the tracklist felt like a dance version of a NOW CD from a couple of years earlier). It's another thing altogether when the reviews are all but published long before a song is recorded.

What my mantra has been all along, since Damita Jo, "A TOUR WILL HEAL ALL WOUNDS". And I don't mean something the likes of the All For You tour, in which she basically got people in the seats by virtue of being Janet (the tour from concept, to setlist, to the stage, was shallow). What she needs is spectacle with a capital S. It's where the money is anyway. Why try to court some fickle 22 year old with your 13 buck album, when you can get them to pay 60 to see an amazing show.

I think Janet was at her best when she didn't seem aware of her vulnerability. Velvet Rope was made with a sort of "I know best for me" confidence. And that seems to be what she lost, she is not despirate, or even dated, just scared. Listening to heavily at fans demands, she has entrenched herself in a rut of Janet cliches in hopes to appease. She'll be number 1 this week more than likely, so maybe this is the turning point from 20YO into more sunny territory.


Earlier when I read this post, I was going to defend Janet to a degree. Mostly because I actually like a couple of tracks off this new cd.

I refrained since I had an idea that my opinion was tainted, that I was just happy I actually liked a couple songs after the non-entities that were Damita Jo and 20 Y.O.

Then, I saw Janet's commercials on MTV.

I don't know how many there are but the one for Making the Band, with the huge bamboo earrings and the toothpick in her mouth? Painful. The one with Rob and Big? I'm not watching with any supposed irony, only sadness.

Then I thought, well maybe it's because of this post that I'm now seeing Janet as a sad shell of her former self. I did like a couple of tracks, after all.

Until, the 3rd time one of the commercials came on, the toothpick one. My boyfriend turned around from the computer, watched with sick fascination and slowly said: What the f*ck is wrong with Janet?

I just shook my head. A pop star who's time has passed, indeed.

I don't normally blog in your comments, thanks in advance for indulging me. ;)

Brian G

hey rich, love your review as always

i just wish i didnt read it before i got a chance to hear the album, now i'm going to have an automatic negative bias towards discipline. and i SO don't want that for janet

but i guess that's my fault. :)


I havent seen Janson tour in years!




I wish she'd go back to neo-soul. That's my favorite janet.


I think meeting up with Jermaine Dupri is what has really sank Janet's career, not the Superbowl fiasco.

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