Janet Jackson, 51, is a better dancer than you’ll ever be. So there’s that.
There’s also, in this age of minutely parsed identity, the maddening fact that both her musical and physical skills have always been forced to take second place: to white women, perhaps namely Madonna, and to men, her brother Michael most obviously.
Janet is everything, which thousands of fans showed her at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Thursday night. Everybody danced and sang all the words all night, both when her mic was open, to prove she still has lungs, and when the prerecorded vocals were on, so she could focus on her footwork.
We appreciated her music, but also her resilience, perseverance and sense of self. These are the qualities one needs to survive in 2017 and Ms. Jackson has got them.
This was clear about three songs into her set, during Burnitup! from the 2015 album Unbreakable. Featuring the rapper Missy Elliott, who appeared larger than life on screens behind the exuberant dancers, the song is a jam, danceable, fun and fully of the moment, even though Janet delayed this tour two years in order to have a baby before divorcing her new son’s father, a Qatari billionaire.
It’s also a song that I hadn’t heard until this week, as I mainlined Janet videos in anticipation of the show. Like every other jerk, I had been more or less ignoring her since the 2004 Super Bowl controversy, when her black woman’s nipple so disgusted mainstream America that it ruined her career for more than a decade.
Janet has released three full-length albums in the meantime, and although I know every word of every song on every album she released in the 1980s and 90s, I basically didn’t notice them. This is partly because of the ennui that greets many mid-career artists, but also because of the media blackout and shunning that stuck to Janet after her “wardrobe malfunction.”
It’s beyond a shame, maybe even a sin, that Janet was sidelined for so long. Consider that, with the #takeaknee protests as a backdrop, her younger, whiter, more male partner in crime Justin Timberlake was just invited to headline the next Super Bowl halftime show.
This is exactly how stereotypes and assumptions have worked against Janet her entire career. She was almost an afterthought in the Jackson entourage: the youngest of nine kids, her entry into showbiz a given yet not especially nurtured, and sometimes still seen as secondary despite her undeniable magnificence.
On Thursday, I got loose alongside a friend of 20-plus years, both of us recalling being shamed in the 1990s for being Janet fans when the guys we liked were into punk, grunge and hardcore rap. Joke’s on them: Love has always been a harder sell than antipathy, but Janet got the full diversity of the Greater Toronto Area to sing along for five straight songs in a row this week. A girl snob might consider this solid evidence that R&B has more longevity than macho boy music.
Around here is the point where critics point out that the Jackson family is weird, to which I say, “Yeah? Well so are you.” Weirdness and malice are the State of the World, as the tour is called, and those who have truly been able to stay out of the fray may sing the first note.
Anyway, the main reason we were here is for a show, and we got one. We heard all of the hits, from The Pleasure Principle to the one with Q-Tip, and we saw Ms. Jackson and her entourage spin, bounce, kick and sweat their way through the night.
Twenty years later, If is still a song that imagines both a world with good sex and one where nobody gets hurt. Three decades on, Rhythm Nation still makes a convincing argument that courage and impeccable choreography could eliminate injustice.
Being seen, and valued, for your true self was a real possibility – at least for two hours, in the world where Janet reigns.
Singer Janet Jackson and her brother Randy Jackson have visited their childhood home in Gary, Indiana, and talked with local high school students.
The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports that the Jacksons made the visit Friday, a day after Janet Jackson’s concert in the Chicago area. Janet Jackson told students at Roosevelt High School that she started crying when she saw the small house. She said, “me and my family are so blessed. I’m so thankful.”
The 51-year-old said she was 8-years-old the last time she was in Gary. The family moved out of the industrial city about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of Chicago after the Jackson 5 recorded their first album in 1969, when Janet Jackson was a toddler.
She also told students she misses performing with her siblings.
Janet Jackson is taking her tour to Houston and has a special surprise for fans who were affected by Hurricane Harvey.
The star took to Twitter on Wednesday to confirm the news that she would be performing in Houston despite the devastation left in the area by the hurricane and the storm that followed.
“We’re going to roll in early because we wanted to visit some of the shelters,” she said. “And not just visit some of the shelters, we also want to do something special. So, we’ll see you Friday!”
— Janet Jackson (@JanetJackson) September 7, 2017
Via a 10-episode docu-series titled Simply Janet, the 51-year old pop icon will reportedly give fans a glimpse into her life as she prepares to kick off her State of the World tour, all while juggling first-time mommy-hood and the emotional fall-out from her recent separation from third husband, Wissam Al Mana.
According to published reports, Simply Janet will feature a behind-the-scenes look into private recording sessions, costume and touring preparations, as well as Janet and Wissam co-parenting their six-month old son Eissa.
Janet is set to resume her tour in the U.S on September 7th, however, the documentary will reportedly cover preparations for the Asian and European leg of the trek, which is said to be getting a huge makeover.
After perusing the children’s store, Jackson headed into a furniture store next door. Fortunately, she was able to take a look around in privacy as both shops locked their doors while she was inside. As one source said, Jackson “looked relaxed and happy.”
She seemed equally in good spirits just days ago when the triple threat took to the Internet to confirm the news of her split from her husband of five years, Wissam Al Mana.
“Yes, I separated from my husband,” she said into the camera during a YouTube video. “We are in court and the rest is in God’s hands.”
The new mom also gushed about her baby boy for the first time publicly. “I thank God for him you guys,” Janet shared. “He’s so healthy. He’s so beautiful, so loving, such a happy baby.”
While she raises her son, Jackson also has another big project on the calendar—her rescheduled world tour.
“I’m continuing my tour as I promised. I’m so excited you guys. I decided to change the name of the tour: The State of the World tour,” she told fans in the video.
“It’s not about politics. It’s about people, the world, relationships and just love.”