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March 29, 2011


Anil Dash

Brilliant, as always. Three years ago, I'd written but never finished a blog post called "Rihanna has made Janet obsolete". As a life-long fan (camped out in a parking lot for tickets on the Janet tour, back when that was a thing!), it made me sad to think it was true, but I'm afraid it is.

To some degree, it's that Jam & Lewis' uncanny ability to mimic, and then improve, whatever's hot is no longer unique. But it's also that each of the flock of new female singer-dancers are sort of avatars of different aspects of Janet, taken to the extreme. Strong voices instead of thin, truly pneumatic bodies instead of merely pushed-up boobs. Phenomenally damaged psyche instead of relegating the daddy issues to (admittedly great!) b-sides like You Need Me.

I'll always love Janet, but as the requisite late-concert bump-n-grind with an audience member gets more and more explicit, and more and more perfunctory, and as the songs decline from Anytime, Anywhere to Rope Burn to whatever that generic one was on the last album, it starts to seem sad instead of uplifting.

I'll give you that she's the perfect superstar, but the era of the superstar may simply have died with Michael.


I cannot believe that I was in close proximity of you, yet did not get a chance to meet you. I am now sad.

Janet was good...considering she has been in the business FOR-EV-AH and is entering her “Tina Turner Greatest Hits Concert” phase.

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I don't know what show you were watching, but the one I saw at Radio City Music Hall was a sad and pale imitation of a Janet Jackson concert. Her eyes were dead when she danced, like she was trying to remember her routines instead of just living them like she used to. I don't think she knew her dancer's name, which is a marked difference to the days of Tina & Josie & Sean and whomever else got "Whoops Now"'ed. I don't think I've ever been to a more joyless concert in my life, especially when compared to past tours. She didn't even have the gaul to change any of the arrangements. Let's face it - all of Janet's tours have been full of greatest hits medleys, so this tour felt desperate and redundant. The most surprising thing to me was how much she actually sang, and how good she sounded. You've just seen what a Britney concert will look like in 2030.


Great review, but yours and other ones of this tour leave out the fact Janet Jackson has no record contract!


To compare Pee Wee Herman to Janet Jackson is quite a stretch. The music of the last decade may not have packed the big hits of the first 20 years but people always have and continue to care about Janet Jackson.

The fact that she's performing in small venues is her attempt at preventing failure since she missed and canceled so many dates on her last arena tour, The RockWithcu Tour.

Her team quite simply didn't want to take the risk of performing at a 16,000 seat arena and not sell it out. So they call it an "Up Close & Personal Tour"and place Jackson in venues with 5,000 -6,000 seats, and yet in most cities she's doing 2-4 nights anyway, thus, she's still performing for the same amount of people.

As for Anil Dash's comment that Rihanna Made Janet Jackson obsolete, I can say that as a fan of both ladies, Rihanna surely did not. Finish that post when Rihanna creates legendary music videos that folks still remember 20 years down the road. Or when her stage show consists of her doing more that a supermodel strut. Is her chart success rivaling Janet's? On the Billboard Hot 100 yes, Rihanna will no doubt catch up to Janet's 10 #1s on that chart in due time. However, Janet didn't release albums with the same speed that artists like Mariah Carey did (almost 1 every 1.5 years). She spent more time on the road doing what she does best:performing.

Janet's show at Radio City Music Hall was great. Scaled down in comparison to her days of glory but nonetheless great. The music that was the soundtrack to the life of a young woman seeking to make it on her own without her family name still holds up in its age. "Pleasure Principle" still moves a crowd with its dance funk combo.
This is a 45 year old woman moving with more rhythm,spirit and agility than Britney Spears, an artist who clearly is inspired more by Jackson than Madonna as the media claims.

Superbowl did a number on Janet's career, because the music post Superbowl, whether you liked it or not, would've been hits had the incident not happen.

The issue for me lies in the vapid nature of her last 3 releases. No grand themes or statements made. No lyrics that make think. All Janet needs for her next record is to work with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis primarily, other modern hit makers second, and bring back the emotion and passion to her music.

jeff reine

This is a great review and such a unique perspective. I would have never thought to compare Janet Jackson to Paul Reubens. It made for a really compelling read, Rich. Not sure how much I agree with the comparison, but that doesn't matter one bit. Thanks for a thought provoking post!


I'm trying to understand the analogy as well. The downward trajectory of Pee Wee Herman was quite severe following his arrest. Big Adventure did well at the b.o. in 1985; Big Top did less than half the b.o. in 1988, and then 1991, career over following his arrest.

Janet's decline into irrelevancy was much more gradual. While 1997's 'Velvet Rope' is one of my favorite Janet albums because it seems to be one of the most genuine, the weak commercial performance signalled the beginning of her descent. By the time 2004 rolled around, her career was in the skids. The Super Bowl stunt was a desperate attempt of a middle-aged woman to attract attention and reignite her career.

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I cannot believe that I was in close proximity of you, yet did not get a chance to meet you.

kate welsh

I so love Janet J. I was just a bit dissapointed in her SuperBowl performance. She is losing the glitz!

kate newton

Janet has lost it's shine. Stardom is not for her. In a simple time, she was at the top but then..


Americans are always ready to move on to the NEW-NOW-NEXT! I guess it's the short attention-span thing.
And Matt, I don't think you'd have to wait until 2030, Britney's pretty much like that NOW. Spaz-I heard Janet did the Super Bowl thing to take the negative attention away from her brother, Michael. And please, I love the way people conveniently forget Justin Timberlake was involved with that. He happily tossed her under the bus and his career is still thriving.

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The question in this case was earnest, not a taunt.) And, in the past year, both Janet and Pee-wee returned to the stage, in venues smaller than those that held these performers' previous glory but that radiate enough audience appreciation to make the size difference feel negligible.

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The amount of breaks and the length of them betray everything we've understood about Janet's devotion up to this point. Perhaps she is slowing down -- age seems not to have taken any toll on her physical appearance and it must manifest itself somewhere. Perhaps they are a new way of her asserting herself ("You'll wait for me, when I say so"). After all, it would fall in line with Janet's polite persona that her diva moments occurred out of the public eye.

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People can be so cruel sometimes, it's so sad. I love Janet Jackson! I think she's a very talented artist. Hope to hear more new songs from her.

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