Although she was unceremoniously banished from the Pop charts following her notorious “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl, it is difficult to deny that Janet Jackson is music royalty. Yet, has her time away from the spotlight made her a relic of the past or is there a chance for her to reclaim her place among the blessed and highly favoured?
With the exception of the rare Nutrisystem ad, the chances of a recent Jackson sighting in the media are even slimmer than finding a Chansey in the Pokemon Safari. Seriously, whenever Jackson surfaces at a major event, the red carpet press has to lure her into interviews that never last more than a few minutes. Yet, despite her current attempts to avoid public attention, the demand for Jackson’s music remains high.
Boasting one of the strongest catalogues in contemporary music – slap yourself if you never heard The Velvet Rope album – Jackson’s early material still receives impressive rotation on radio and television. Even images from old photo shoots continue to circulate across various social media platforms, especial on Tumblr where she easily competes with Rihanna and Beyonce as a user favourite.
So, what does all this drawn out jibber jabber mean? Did I just waste 3 minutes of your time by stating facts that you already know and now you want to hit me with that copy of Ciara’s Basic Instinct your aunt bought you at the dollar store in her failed attempt at being hip?
Think about it: Jackson’s music steadily plays on the radio, her videos are quite popular on television and even young music fans born after her prime know her by name, if not by face alone. Those are indicators that her brand is still relevant to the current music market.
With younger acts, such as Rihanna, Ciara, Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Britney Spears, eagerly
stealing adapting several aspects of Jackson’s style into their own works, they unknowingly maintain her presence in music. As an implication of that nifty fact, ladies and gentlemen, Jackson could theoretically forge a comeback.
To test this little theory, I showed a teenager Rihanna’s video for “Where Have You Been” and after listening to her laud her favourite artist for such an “original” concept – clearly this child was left behind – I introduced her to Jackson’s clip for “Together Again”. Imagine my delight when the young lady changed her tune and asked to see more of Jackson’s work. Today, she is a huge fan of the person she calls “a better version of Rihanna” and I can sleep well at night knowing that I did my part to make the world a better place. Each one, teach one.
Jackson is a visual-driven Po star and her striking video concepts and stage shows make it possible for her to fit in with a generation of young performers who emulate her craft yet fail to match her skill. Indeed, unlike Mariah Carey, who fronts a struggling crop of big-voiced, flowing gown divas, Jackson’s brand of entertainment is still heavily demanded. Ironically, Jackson was the second best-selling act of the 1990s, behind Carey.
Of course, all this talk would be pointless if Jackson doesn’t properly plan her return to the music scene, with a keen focus on timing, radio-friendly material and proper marketing. We all saw what happened with Madonna in 2012 when her less than impressive MDNA album fell off the charts quicker than an artist on the Bad Boy Records roster.
Also, Jackson herself has to want success. At this point in her life, it’s obvious that music isn’t a priority for her and she has lost all interest in that aspect of her career. Perhaps the media backlash she faced following the Super Bowl and her failed stint on Island Records has left her uninterested, particularly since her public image has been so badly damaged and a comeback seems near impossible.
On the other hand, Jackson could simply be waiting for the right time to relaunch her music career. As grim as it sounds, the death of her brother Michael helped to change public opinion of her, regardless of how hard Madonna tried to remind us of Jackson’s Super Bowl incident as a way of making her own less than impressive Half-Time Show seem better than just a desperate attempt to fight the effects of ageing.
Hence, it is quite possible for Jackson to score a successful comeback. All she needs is the right timing, music, promotion and the motivation to dominate the charts as she did in the past, and she will be back on top. Jackson is arguably a better entertainer than every young act in the game today and it would be a shame to see all that talent fade away before she gets the chance to cap off an already impressive legacy.
Watch the video for Jackson’s “Together Again” below: