Michael and Janet Jackson used to be music royalty. No matter how much you didn’t buy into the image, tried to ignore the hype and tried to tune them out, for the better part of two decades (the 80’s and 90’s), they maintained a brother and sister dynasty that hadn’t been seen since the days of the Osmonds. Come out of the 90’s into the 00’s you wouldn’t have thought they had both already peaked. I mean after the breakout success of “You Are Not Alone” (1995) you’d have thought MJ still had a few monster hits that he hadn’t unleashed yet. Janet Jackson’s own “I Get Lonely” (1997) was another break out hit that also left me believing that her best was yet to come.
So what happened?
We all know about Michael Jackson’s legal troubles, but that shouldn’t have stopped his follow up album INVINCIBLE from performing. Around the same time the album was released he announced that he was leaving Sony. A dumb move because if a record label knows you aren’t renewing your contract, why in the hell would they promote your album? I’m sure they attempted to cover costs, but they weren’t going to release tons of videos supporting an album that they didn’t even seem to be happy with to begin with. MJ retaliated by calling Tommy Mottolla, the guy who started banging Mariah Carey when she was like 17, a racist. Rightfully, no one with any sense bought into this. Still, “You Rock My World” showed a lot of potential as did “Whatever Happens”, his collaboration with Carlos Santana. Instead of pushing forward with his career and getting back to his roots (Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Quincy Jones) he opted for Teddy Riley and Rodney Jerkins who, it can be argued, took his career in a different (somewhat less successful) direction.
Janet’s last big albums were the VELVET ROPE (1995) and ALL FOR YOU (2001) both of which have sold more than 3 million copies in the U.S. alone. ALL FOR YOU, which outperformed VELVET ROPE in first week sales and worldwide, looked like it would mark the beginning of a new era of Janet. While Michael had found his biggest success in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, It looks like Janet’s years would be the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s. ALL FOR YOU was further supported by Janet’s starring role in the hit movie NUTTY PROFESSOR 2: THE KLUMPS and the lead single’s (“Doesn’t Really Matter”) appearance on the movies soundtrack. At the same time however, Janet had gone through a much publicized divorce from her former business partner/manager/songwriter René Elizondo. Her follow up records DAMITO JO and 20 Y.O. didn’t perform quite as well (with 20 Y.O. performing the worse between the two). Since then she’s gone on to experience some weight gain, the infamous nip-slip at the super bowl, a much publicized relationship with producer Jermaine Dupri and a subsequent weight loss. Reportedly, she will star in the forthcoming Tyler Perry movie WHY DID I GET MARRIED? and is rumored to be flowing her lover Jermaine Dupri to Island Records.
Both artists are reportedly working on their “comeback” records. Janet, I think has the best chance of maintaining a stable career. Michael however, is constantly surrounded by controversy…so much so that it over shadows his music. I’m still waiting for new MJ records though, this new song leaked a few years ago and was reportedly from his forthcoming record. If he gets rid of the whack rapper and just releases the song as is, he might have another hit.