Icon. Legend. Diva. Visionary. Singer. Songwriter.
Actress. Dancer. Innovator. Producer. Pioneer.
Writer. Game-changer. Inspiration.
Most artists follow a chosen path, only a few dare to blaze a trail. Most artists strive to entertain, only a few inspire. 10 Billboard # 1 singles, 6 Billboard # 1 Albums, over 150 million records sold worldwide over a period of 3 decades, one of the highest selling contemporary pop vocalists of all time, 3 # 1 movies, a New York Times best-selling # 1 book, 5 Grammy’s, the most awarded artist in the history of the Billboard Music Awards with 33 wins. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as Janet Jackson’s phenomenal career is concerned.
For someone who stole the spotlight since she was 7 years old, commanding a level of respect that a handful of others can only dream of, 40 years after her arrival, is nothing short of extraordinary. The only artist to have 7 consecutive top 5 hits from one album (1989’s epic ‘Rhythm Nation 1814‘), the first female artist to début at # 1 on the Billboard 200 in the Neilsen SoundScan era (with 1993’s ‘janet.‘), the first (and only one of two) artist to have # 1 singles for 3 consecutive decades on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart during the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s, the only artist to have 18 consecutive top 10 hits on the Hot 100, the highest grossing début tour ever (the ‘Rhythm Nation‘ tour), the second highest number of # 1 singles on the Billboard Dance Charts (19), the second highest number of # 1 singles on the Billboard R’n’B Charts (15), and the list goes on and on.
Billboard magazine ranked her the second most successful female artist in pop music history. I rank her as the best thing that could have EVER happened to music, and to me. She’s the reason I write my own music blog, and her music is the reason I made it through a childhood of morbid obesity and uncontrollable bouts of low self-esteem. Through her music, I’ve crossed my velvet rope, and have learned to water my spiritual garden, learning to face my own demons instead of running away from them. And I can vouch for a fact that a worldwide legion of a billion fans are feeling the same way I’m feeling today. She’s a living example of what can be achieved through hard work, sheer determination and discipline.
Janet’s music transcends across all barriers, beyond race, sex, religion, color, geographical, cultural or generational. When it comes to dance, Janet sets the standards. When it comes to the music video, few can rival her legacy (Madonna being probably the only other female artist, while brother Michael being the only other male artist). There would have been no Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Ciara, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Lil’ Kim, Brandy, Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, TLC, Missy Elliott, Mya, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Christina Milian, Nicki Minaj, Keri Hilson etc, had it not been for the trail-blazing and pioneering work done by Janet Jackson back in the day, when as a black woman, she changed the face of pop music and pop culture forever, daring to play the game by her own rules.
She did it back then, and she’s doing it now. And as she turns 46 today, the 16th of May 2012, I can only wonder if she’s really aging backwards, cuz she certainly shows no signs of looking a day over 25.
Her artistic appeal and her status as a global superstar has shown no sign of fading, irrespective of receiving the shorter end of the stick due to incidents like the Super Bowl. She emerged from the shadows of her superstar brothers and eventually overtook them all, and today she stands as the true heir to the Jackson family legacy.
If there’s one album that single-handedly changed my life, that was Janet’s 1997 Grammy winning Billboard # 1 album, ‘The Velvet Rope‘. 1993’s iconic ‘janet.‘ comes a close second. Her music, her videos, her choreography, her philanthropy, her ideology have all had a profound influence on whatever I’ve done in my life so far, from saving lives as a doctor, to being the editor of a music website. Her message through her music reverberates loud and clear – It CAN be done, if you’re willing to work hard for it, and as long as you remember your roots.
Janet Damita Jo Jackson, a very happy birthday to you! You were, are and shall forever remain an inspiration to me, as well as your worldwide legion of fans who have been influenced by your music, and whose lives you have changed.
Cuz you’re Janet..Miss Jackson if ya nasty!