In April 1974, seven-year-old Janet Jackson — the youngest of the nine Jackson siblings — stepped onto the stage of the Las Vegas MGM Grand and joined her older brothers, whose rise to fame was already very much in progress. Fast-forward 30 plus years, and the Jackson 5 is no more (and you can probably fill in most of the rest of that story yourself).
Janet, however — 10 albums, 5 Grammys and over 30 #1 singles later — went on to become one of the best-selling artists of all time, and she’s still going stronger than ever. Forget the last name. And you know her first name ain’t “Baby.” So drop the name “Janet” anywhere in the world where there’s access to an FM radio, and they’ll know who you’re talking about.
She’s not just a triple threat. She’s a true quadruple threat. Challenge Janet to a dance-off, and you’ll get your ass handed to you. She is, and always will be the founding mother of “Rhythm Nation.” Vocally, she reeled it in on tender ballads like “Let’s Wait Awhile,” flexed her R&B muscles on “That’s The Way Love Goes” and wailed like a total tigress on “Black Cat.” She’s had acting in the bag since 1977, when she made her comedic debut as the Band-Aid-headed Penny on Good Times. And don’t forget her serious turn aside the late Tupac Shakur in Poetic Justice, up through her recent role in Tyler Perry’s 2007 dramedy Why Did I Get Married?
But Janet Jackson’s always kept her most dangerous weapon concealed. And it isn’t power, and it’s not just talent, though she’s got plenty of both. Her ace in the hole has always been her ability to stay real and relevant and keep on bouncing back better than ever in a business that’s tried but has so far failed to keep a great woman down. Janet Jackson’s superstar resolve is made of pure steel — it’s no wonder she named her next album, which drops tomorrow, Discipline.
If we could’ve made Janet Jackson the MTV Artist of the Century, we would have. (We asked, but they said no). But all this week, we’ll be celebrating the music, the videos — you can watch all of the Janet videos we’ve got right here, including some of our favorites below, and soon we’ll be bringing you her hilarious Artist of the Week videos spoofing MTV shows — and the live performances of Janet Jackson — a true living legend whose best work we probably haven’t even seen yet.