Billboard Feature: Janet Jackson: Still In Control

By Jonathan Cohen
Publication: Billboard
Date: Wednesday, December 15 1999
Sponsored by Epson
Then, she began collaborating with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis of the band the Time, a partnership that helped kickstart her music career. In just six weeks, the trio recorded
the album "Control," which raced to No. 1 on the Billboard album chart
in the summer of 1986 on the strength of five top-five singles,
including "When I Think Of You," Jackson's first No. 1 hit.

Her accessible sound and spectacularly choreographed videos were
irresistible to MTV, and helped the channel evolve from rock programming
to a broader, beat-driven musical mix. The 1989 album "Janet Jackson's
Rhythm Nation 1814" was an even bigger success than its predecessor,
setting a record with its seven top-five hits that ranged from the hard
rock of "Black Cat" (No. 1) to the smooth, melodic "Escapade" and "Love
Will Never Do (Without You)," two additional No. 1 tracks.

Jackson toured long and hard in support of the album, and in 1991 was rewarded
with a lucrative new contract from Virgin Records. The 1993 album
"janet.," her first under the deal, indulged in the plush, romantic feel
of a classic Marvin Gaye or Al Green record. It became her third
consecutive No. 1 record and, incredibly, duplicated the previous
album's tally of seven top-10 singles. That year, Jackson also appeared
opposite rapper Tupac Shakur in the film "Poetic Justice."

In the summer of 1995, "Scream/Childhood," a duet with brother Michael
that appeared on the soundtrack to the film "Free Willy 2," hit No. 5.
The track proved to be one of many successful collaborations with other
artists, including Busta Rhymes, BLACKstreet and Shaggy. More than four
years passed before the 1997 release of the album "The Velvet Rope,"
which debuted at No. 1 and featured the No. 1 single "Together Again."
The album also included "Got 'Til It's Gone," a seductive spin on Joni
Mitchell's 1970 classic "Big Yellow Taxi," and tackled a number of adult

"In the past, I've always found a way to not have to face the pain I've
experienced growing up; I would brush it aside and keep going," she told
Billboard. "But I'm at a point now where self-discovery has become
important, and this album is kind of like a self-examination."

As the decade comes to a close, Jackson boasts some of the most
impressive chart distinctions for a female artist. Her 1993 hit "That's
The Way Love Goes" ranks No. 22 on the list of most successful singles
of the last 40 years, while the track ranks No. 4 on the list of top-10
love songs. Jackson's 24 top-40 hits place her in a tie for ninth
all-time. What's more, she's been honored with several Billboard Music Awards, including seven awards at the first ceremony in 1990 (including
top pop album artist). She also received a special Artist Achievement Award in 1995.

Jonathan Cohen is Assistant Editor of Billboard Online.

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