For Janet Jackson's 55th Birthday: A Guide to Janet's Accomplishments & LegacyOverview of Career Accomplishments Pre-Recording Career & Television Acting * The youngest child out of ten in the legendary Jackson family. * At the age of seven Janet was already performing at the MGM Casino in Las Vegas and acting in the The Jacksons variety show. * At the age of eleven she got a starring role on the sitcom Good Times (1977 - 1979), along with roles in A New Kind of Family and Diff'rent Strokes (1980 - 1984). Her last television acting role would be on the show Fame (1984 - 1985). Janet Jackson & Dream Street (1982 & 1984) * After doing a TV Show "[she] absolutely hated doing" at the age of 16 Janet Jackson was forced by her father to start a music career. She released a self titled album'Janet Jackson' where she had no creative control over. The album peaked at #63 and had one single 'Young Love' peak at #64 on the Hot 100. Critics at the time were underwhelmed by the release and felt it had 'no distinctive musical personality'. * Fast forward two years to 1984 and Janet wanted to go to college but her father Joseph does not allow it and makes her continue to work on music. So she releases a follow up album with her father still in complete control titled 'Dream Street'. The album peaked at #147 on the Billboard 200 and was the only album by Janet to have no songs land on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite her father Joseph believing this would be a commercial success. In an act of rebellion Janet later married her boyfriend at the time James DeBarge. * With back to back flops Janet had to do some major changes if she was to find success as an artist. So in 1985 she left her husband & got an annulment of their marriage, completely severed all of her business affairs from her father Joseph and hired John McClain as her new manager who would be the one to introduce her to legendary producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Control (1987) * The album made Billboard Hot 100 history, breaking brother Michael's record for longest continuous run on the Hot 100 with singles from one album, a record 65 consecutive weeks. * Sold over 10,000,000 copies Worldwide and peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 list. * Nominated at The Grammy's for the Album of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for Control and Best R&B Song for What Have You Done For Me Lately. * Nominated for 4 MTV Video Music Awards in 1987 for Best Female Video, Best Overall Performance in a Video and two nominations for Best Choreography with Nasty winning the award. * Nominated for 2 MTV Video Music Awards in 1988 for Best Female Video and for Best Choreography. * The album won 3 Soul Train Music Award (1987 - 1988) for Music Video of the Year and Album of the Year, Female and Music Video of the Year. * The album was nominated for a record breaking 13 American Music Awards (1987-1988) the most nominations ever from one album, winning Favorite Soul/R&B Single, Favorite Soul/R&B Female Video Artist and winning Favorite Pop/Rock/Soul/R&B Video. * Nominated for a total of 22 Billboard Magazine Year-End Number One Awards in 1986 and 1987; winning Top Black Singles Artist - Female, Top Black Singles Artist, Top Black Artist, Top Dance Sales Artist, Top Pop Album Artist – Female, Top Pop Singles Artist, Top Pop Singles Artist – Female and Top Dance Club Play Artist. * It is listed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 200 Definitive Albums of All Time; along with being featured on many other Greatest Albums of All Time lists from publications such as Rolling Stone, Vibe, Spin, Billboard, Pitchfork, NPR and The Guardian. Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989) * One of nine albums in music history to Produce 4 #1 Hot 100 Hits * The Best Selling album of 1990 in the US * Sold over 12,000,000 copies Worldwide * The only album in music history to have 7 singles reach the Top 5 of the Hot 100 * The only album in music history to have produced a #1 Hit on the Hot 100 in Three Separate Calendar Years from the original tracklisting. * The youngest artist (still) to receive the MTV Video Vanguard Award at the age of 23. * Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame * Its single for "Alright" featuring Heavy D made Jackson the first pop artist to team with a rapper, "setting the trend for future pop and hip-hop collaborations." * Won 8 Billboard Music Awards in One Night, becoming the first female artist ever to sweep an award show. * 15 Billboard Music Awards in total for the entire Era * 8 Grammy Nominations in total for the entire Era, one of which was for Producer of the Year making her the first woman to ever be nominated for the award. * The only artist in music history to receive Grammy nominations spanning five genres (pop, dance, rock, rap, and R&B) * Made the "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" List, ranked #277 on Rolling Stones 2012 "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" List, #30 on Pitchfork's "The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s", #54 on Spin's "The 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1985-2014)" List. janet. (1994) * Sold over 14,000,000 copies Worldwide. * One of only seven albums in music history to produce six top-ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100. * Got nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. * Five American Music Award Nominations. * Two Grammy Nominations, winning Best R&B Song for "That's The Way Love Goes". * Won Video of the Year at the Soul Train Music Awards and Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards for "If". The Velvet Rope (1997) * Janet signed the largest music contract in history for $80 million dollars. * Sold over 10,000,000 copies world wide. * Together Again reached #1 on the Hot 100 and spent a record 46 weeks on the chart. It is one of the best selling global singles in music history and her highest selling single to date. * Had an HBO Special for the tour titled "The Velvet Rope: Live in Madison Square Garden" which was viewed by over 15 million viewers and the DVD went platinum in the US and Australia. The special also won an Emmy for Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Special. * Nominated for six Billboard Awards winning one and nominated for two Grammy Awards winning one. All For You (2001) * Internationally the album was complete success by debuting within the top three of Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. It also opened within the top five of Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan, Norway, and Sweden. It debuted within the top ten of Austria, Italy, New Zealand, and Spain, and the top twenty of Ireland and Poland. It went 4x Platinum in South Africa, 3x Platinum in Canada and Japan and at least Gold in EVERY major European country (and this is with Janet's infamous reputation for having some of the most outdated certification stats in music... but that is another rant for another day!). * Was Janet's fifth consecutive album to reach #1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. * Had the biggest first week album sales of her entire career. * Had the second highest first-week sales for a female artist in SoundScan history at the time. * The best-selling international album in Japan in that year. * One of the best-selling albums of the decade in the US. * Was nominated for over FIFTY awards this era, winning 29 of them! * All For You Tour, which only primarily toured in America, was the third most successful tour in the world that year. * Janet had a second HBO Concert Special in 2002 that was viewed by 12 million people, with the DVD for the special "Janet: Live in Hawaii" going Platinum in the US, Australia and Canada. Damita Jo (2004) * Earned Janet her second highest first-week sales in the US and was certified platinum within two months of it's release despite a blacklisting from radio and television. * Her single I Want You went platinum in the US despite a blacklisting from radio and television. * Nominated for Two Grammy Awards. * Won an American Music Award for Favorite R&B Female Artist. * Won a BMI Award for Best Pop Song - "All Nite (Don't Stop)". 20 Y.O. (2006) * The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, making it Jackson's eighth consecutive top-three debut and second consecutive number-two album debut. * The album was certified Platinum making it her eighth consecutive platinum album. * Nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album. Discipline (2008) * The album debuted at #1 making it Janet's 6th studio album to hit #1. * Lead single Feedback was Janet's highest charting single since 2001 becoming her 29th Top 20 Hit. Unbreakable (2015) * Debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Chart with 116,000 album sales making it Janet's seventh #1 studio album. * Made her the third artist ever to have a #1 album in 4 separate decades. * Made it onto the "Best of 2015" Lists from 14 different Publications Overview of Career Legacy Control (1987) The album is credited for originating the style and genre of New Jack Swing. It has been referenced as the blue print for how female artists can model their careers after and successfully artistically and personally reach a place of self-actualization. It is hard to summarize in words the impact this era had as both something evolutionary and revolutionary for young women in music, especially black women. She was able to create one of the most influential albums across pop and R&B music while beginning her journey as revolutionizing the way music videos as an art form were used and the standards she set for them. It is why Beyoncé, Rihanna, Ciara, FKA Twigs, Tinashe, Bruno Mars, Hayley Williams and so many other artists credit this album for influencing them as artists. Despite her father claiming Control would "never sell" and "if Janet listens to me, she'll be as big as Michael" Janet found the most musical success she had yet by listening to herself and taking full control of her life, career and creative endeavors. At the age of 19 to be able to be at the front lines of creating a new genre to pierce the mainstream internationally while doing an album that focused about female independence + empowerment, is it any surprise Janet would later go on to become a legend? She established herself as an exciting artist who successfully broke into the mainstream and was to continue changing the pop music landscape for decades to come. Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989) This album is credited for pioneering several musical trends in Pop, R&B and Hip Hop by "marrying the pleasures of pop with the street energy and edge of hip-hop, while focusing her album's theme on social consciousness". Michael Jackson, Rihanna, P!nk, Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Gwen Stefani, The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, FKA Twigs, Robyn and many artists directly credit this album era having a tremendous impact on them as artists. Many music scholars credit this era for shifting radio airplay and MTV away from catering to white rock musicians, sparking a rise in the black feminist movement, having the most cross-racial impact and the music videos of this era serving as the template for over a decade to follow. janet. (1994) Janet paved the road future pop stars would take on how to transform from conservative teen role model to sex symbol. Cultural historians credit Janet's music videos in this era for help popularizing women receiving oral sex, ""In Alfred Kinsey's studies in the 1950s, only 3% of the young women had received oral sex from a man. By the mid-1990s, however, 75% of women aged 18-24 had experienced cunnilingus. Music videos by female artists have contributed to the trend, with Janet Jackson heavily implying male-on-female oral sex in music videos by pushing down on a man's head until he's in exactly the right position". Janet helped bring female sexual freedom and the dignity in being sexually liberating as a female to the forefront of pop culture. The Velvet Rope (1997) As the biggest artist in music at the time having Janet have an album that discussed and focused on self-worth, homophobia, domestic violence, same-sex relationships, BDSM, sexual orientation, depression, anxiety & eating disorders had profound effects on normalizing mental health struggles and raising a ton of awareness about these issues. This album era pioneered the idea of pop artists making a “rebel record” for future artists like Xtina’s Stripped, Rihanna’s Rated R, Kelly Clarkson’s My December and credited as the main inspiration for the wave of alternative R&B sound used by artists like The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Miguel & Tinashe. All For You (2001) The legacy of this album and era is this is where Janet earned her nickname by fans and critics as "The Blueprint". In the direct aftermath of this era Britney, Christina, Beyoncé, J Lo, Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, and many others took notes from the album production, fashion, choreography, sensual themes and tour for this album. For example Britney tried to emulate a lot of things from this era like famously taking the Janet rejects "I'm a Slave 4 U" and "Boys" for her now funkier album Britney. She also made the song Anticipating wanting it to sound like All For You, along with saying the music video for Son of A Gun was the direct inspiration for the music video for her song Overprotected (Dark Child Remix) where she shot her music video at the same location Janet shot hers. Even later into the decade Rihanna credited Janet for inspiring her Rated R to Loud era transition due to Janet's The Velvet Rope to All For You era transition. Pop journalist and critic Kelley Crater regarded All For You as, "The most influential pop album to be released since 2000," declaring it "set the tone for much of what we’re hearing on the radio from current female pop stars. Anything Rihanna, Beyoncé and Britney are doing right now, was heard on this album." Its fusion of "old-school pop sounds with rhythmic influences". Damita Jo (2004) The albums narrative focused around Janet creating different personas of herself to dive deeper into certain aspects of her. For example 'Strawberry' was a character Janet invented to dive deeper into her sexuality on songs like Strawberry Bounce & Warmth . Along with 'Damita Jo' who was aggressive and did not take any shit, like on tracksSexhibition and title track Damita Jo . Janet stated, "A songwriter is like a novelist. You invent characters. Because they're born out of your brain, they reflect you. But good characters are independent of you and live lives of their own. I hope Strawberry is a good character. Sexually, she's on fire. She doesn't mince words. She has to have it and doesn't care who knows it." "As a writer, I created her. As a singer, I live through her. As an artist, I find her compelling. She might be crazy, she might even be twisted, but her sexual adventures are exciting. I want her music to reflect that excitement." Damita Jo is definitely who I am today, in all her schizophrenic personalities. “Several critics observed the theme of Damita Jo to subsequently influence artists using similar concepts of alternate identities within album campaigns, regarding Jackson as the trendsetter in which singers "declare themselves in possession of multiple personalities".” This can be seen in Britney Spears' album "Britney Jean" and Beyonce's album "I Am...Sasha Fierce". 20 Y.O. (2006) This album era did not have much impact lol but it is kinda funny it caused Jermaine Dupri to lose his job.... hopefully one day the original version of the album will leak lol <3 For context: In 2005, Jackson initially worked with various producers, including The Neptunes, and Dr. Dre but the concept was changed when Dupri was selected to manage the project after becoming a division president at Virgin Records. After the album's release, Dupri was condemned for his production and misguidance of the album, and subsequently was removed from his position at Virgin Records. A producer who worked on the original version said "the finished project we had before Jermaine took everything over is crazy. Ask Jimmy & Terry how they felt when Jermaine came in and changed almost everything." Discipline (2008) The impact of this era was definitely how ahead of its time with its combining of club electronic music and standard dance pop. Along with how futuristic the album art, music video, era and the fictional AI robot who does the interludes on the album Kyoko. It foreshadowed the take over of club / dance music in popular culture for the next several years. Unbreakable (2015) Janet was able to be reflective of her career, push herself to experiment sonically in creative & new ways, deliver songs that are meaningful and fun and speak on various topics with the authority of somebody who has lived a lot of life. Janet proved she was able to move forward with her life, in spite of the personal traumas she suffered, and luckily take us along for the ride to help guide us on how to navigate our lives and learn from hers. It set the standard and created another blueprint on how to successfully make a pop album as an older legacy artist. Pitchfork best summarized it when they stated in their review, "This ability to synthesize what music needs instead of catering to its whims is what has made Janet Jackson an enduring pop star. Unlike Madonna, whose presence and work open up much-needed conversations about sexuality, commodity, and the gendered age biases of pop music, Jackson, 49, exposes these conventions as construct. Unbreakable might be her most demure album in years, but that doesn't mean it's not sexy. Its strength comes from savvy instead of gimmickry, returning to the producers and formula Jackson built her career on (jubilant dance-pop, bedroom R&B, that angelic giggle). Because Unbreakable is about putting faith in one's career and fans, it plays like the natural next phase in Jackson's discography, which individually might be markers of their time but are ultimately ageless" Final Thoughts * Janet Jackson has sold over 188,000,000 records worldwide. * Janet Jackson has the most successful debut tour in music history. * Janet Jackson has 9 #1 albums, with Janet being the first female artist to have five back to back #1 albums. * Janet Jackson is the first artist to have a single simultaneously top the Hot 100, R&B Chart and Dance chart. * Janet Jackson is the first artist to have a #1 single in the 80s, 90s and 00s. * Janet Jackson is the first female artist to have the #1 Best Selling Album of the Year. * Janet Jackson is the first artist to have five or more Top 10 Hits from three consecutive albums. * Janet Jackson is the only artist to be nominated in Pop, Rock, Rap, R&B and Dance categories at The Grammys. * Janet Jackson is the only artist with 18 consecutive Top Ten Singles on the Hot 100 Chart. * Janet Jackson is the only artist in Billboard History to hit #1 on the Dance, Pop, Rock, Rap, R&B, Adult Contemporary and Top 40 Charts. * Janet Jackson has won over 550 awards, including 34 Billboard Music Awards which is still the most won by a female artist. * Janet Jackson is credited as revolutionizing touring, music videos and choreography with many crediting Janet with, “What Whitney Houston did to impact singers, Janet Jackson did to impact dancers”. * She has been cited as a major influence by Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Jay Z, Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Cheryl Cole, Bruno Mars, Jennifer Lopez, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Sufjan Stevens, Christina Aguilera, Paramore, Katy Perry, The Weeknd, Janelle Monae, TLC, Spice Girls, Solange, Selena, Pink, Charli XCX, Panic at the Disco, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, St. Vincent, Neyo, John Legend, Kimbra, Kylie Minogue, Tinashe, and Usher. Writer Hassan Sayyed perfectly captures what fuels me and so many other Janet fans who are so passionate about preserving her legacy with this mission statement, But there was a bigger mission that was the undertow of all of this work: Cementing and protecting the legacy of a black woman who lost a generation of opportunity and credit due to the malfeasance of patriarchy and racism. I hope this inspires you to listen to Janet's music, celebrate her life's work, further explore her impact on culture and maybe feel inspired to help educate others about this legend who truly deserves the world. Remember this is just an overview but I tried to make it pretty comprehensive. Thank you so much for reading and supporting as always! <3 Click Here for My Other Janet Jackson Write Ups & Posts! Featuring: * My Top 50 Best Janet Jackson Songs Playlist