Once upon a time, there was a Jackson sibling who wasn't completely dysfunctional, who had genuine raw talent, and had the savvy to surround herself with the smartest, talented people she could muster. Janet. We knew her by her first name alone. For years she delivered smart, concise pop music that saturated the airwaves and TV. Smartly, she hitched her wagon to the brilliant star of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, whose production cred is untouchable. Together they topped every pop and R&B chart and made her a household name.
After a huge peak with Rhythm Nation: 1814 and its follow-up Janet, she looked into her panties and found her special gift, and delved into sex on the next release The Velvet Rope and again on its follow-up All For You. Rope was musical soft-core porn, albeit danceable porn, and All was actually pretty sexy and had some real soul to it. OK Janet, you're a dirty girl. We get the point. Sex, you like sex. Great, fabulous…got it. Note to self: Janet likes sex. Apparently the world didn't care too much, as those two albums didn't have nearly the success of her previous work. Did Janet change tactics? Oh no, she's back bigger and nastier with Damita Jo, the latest tawdry romp through her naughty little mind.
Airing out her naughty bits to anyone who wants a peek, Janet's Travis Bickle-like approach is about as sexy as a plastic blow-up doll. Listeners will also be subjected to more of the spoken-word spam that she uses for filler. This disc is absolutely polluted with it. She must really love the sound of her own whispering voice because this album is peppered with Janet talking and mumbling all sorts of nonsense, like the chatter that cluttered up the otherwise listenable All For You. I'm sure it is meant to add ambiance, but it's just tiresome, almost as tiresome as the 22 tracks encompassed on this ill-conceived mess. Hey Janet, the phonebook is real long too, but it doesn't win any awards for creativity. She could have easily chopped this into two separate releases, which would have probably been much more enjoyable. As it is, it's too damn long and lacks the energy to engage the listener through 22 tracks.
Damita Jo (Janet's middle name and her self-proclaimed sexual alter-ego) is Janet telling us about her sex life. OK Janet, we know you're a naughty girl. We saw your boob on TV and all over the Internet. We know about your little fling with that wussy boy-band refuge (Sorry, I can't bring myself to use his name). What makes you think anyone wants to know what you nicknamed your coochie, or about your preferred oral technique? I'm sure her intent was to titillate and shock, but in the end, it's simply tawdry and lewd, and completely devoid of any real sexual energy. Is this a desperation move to recover an audience that has moved on? I guess if you can't grab an audience with your talent you grab them by trying to shock them? Some artists can effectively use sexuality in a creative and entertaining manner. Prince made a career out of it, and Madonna did it with considerable success. Madonna's Erotica and Bedtime Stories are infinitely sexier than this garbage.
If the music were great, there would be some worthiness to this. The music is not great, despite the talent involved. (Babyface, Jam & Lewis, et al.) The music is middle-of-the-road and forgettable. They try to resurrect some old-school style soul slow-groove, but it's all slow and no groove. There are a few energetic moments, but not nearly enough to raise this to the level of Rhythm Nation or Control. Could the 11 people with producer credits be a factor? It sounds like a case of too many cooks and not enough heart. Along with the utter lack of interesting lyrical content, this tawdry peep show will be quickly forgotten.
|Awwww I love Janet, but you're right this one did'nt live up to her other CDs. I did like the cut "R&B junkie" though. One bad album won't turn me off on Janet. Even thogh her next two albums were very good. MTV and VH1 had blacklisted her over the superbowl incedent. I'm waiting on the next one, I know a music reviewer might think she shouldn't go back to her old producers, fans can't wait to hear what they are going to come up with. Please review it the day it comes out.|