Week three of Philly Mixtape‘s winter column (for weeks one and two, head here) is giving it up to some of our beloved divas, and what a wonderful list is for this go around. Stroll down the music memory lane and get ready to celebrate all year long as we look back at iconic albums from Janet Jackson, Madonna, Britney Spears, Alicia Keys and a certain Adele album that we still haven’t been able to escape from.
1.Janet Jackson/Control/30 YO/February 4th Although Ms. J had released two sets prior to this grand ’86 release–’82’s Janet Jackson (“Young Love,” anyone?) & ’84’s Dream Street–it was this album that transformed the icon from Michael’s kid sister to Michael’s kid sister. Armed with that one-of-a-kind Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis production power along with juiced up rhythms and big pop hooks, this was the Janet that the world was ready and waiting for. Certainly without Control hits, “When I Can Think of You,” “Nasty”, “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” (“what has he done for you laaate-ly?”), “Let’s Wait Awhile” and the album’s coveted title track (those car brakes), our Ms. Jackson-if-you’re nasty-lives just wouldn’t be the same.
The true champion single of Janet’s Control era is the album’s sixth single, the glorious,”The Pleasure Principle.” Not only is it supplied with the best Janet video of all time, but it is without a doubt, one of the most underrated singles in her extensive body of werk. There’s no need to argue…it is.
Now, listen up.
2.Madonna/True Blue/30 YO 1986 was certainly a great year for our beloved divas, wasn’t it? While Ms. Janet was gettin’ her Control on, Madonna was gettin’ her Sean Pean on and transformed her newlywed bliss into an album that is not just her most solid pop effort, but one of her best records over all.
Kickstarted with the synth burnt ballad, “Live to Tell,” another smash hit–and controversy-followed with the album’s second single, “Papa Don’t Preach,” which ultimately became Madonna’s first foray into scandalous territory. The controversy only propelled the album to greater heights, with Madonna releasing a handful of hit singles from the sensual set–“La Isla Bonita,” “Open Your Heart,” and of course, the always overlooked, “Where’s the Party.”
True Blue is also the album that transformed Madonna from a two-bit pop star into a full global music icon, who certainly proved she had her artistry chops locked and loaded for this go around, as seen in anyone of True Blue‘s accompanying iconic music videos. And let’s not forget that it was this album that first introduced us into Madonna’s wonderful world cone bras.
Although her marriage to Penn didn’t make it through the time until True Blue was finished stamping the charts, our love affair with Madonna’s vibrant third album certainly made it past the music prenup.
3.Britney Spears/Britney/15 YO What does Joan Jett, Crossroads (Ms. Cattrall! Ms. Saldana! Pennsyltucky!), a big ol’ python, Justin Timberlake and that denim outfit all have in common? They’re all of the glorious elements that made up the music and pop culture life of Ms. Spears’ ravenous third studio set, Britney.
Although the record didn’t sell nearly sell as much as its predecessors, it was Britney that began Britney’s path of, um, shedding her skin from being a TRL pop tart to her slightly scandalous “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet a Woman” days all the way to the full-blown sex pot that locked us in the music bedroom with follow-up, In the Zone.
Besides the radio singles that were served up (this is also the only Britney album to not deliver a top 20 hit), the rest of the album is a nice post-Oops treat loaded with that elusive Spears gum cracking pop sass, as heard in tracks like, “Lonely,” “Anticipating,” “Cinderella,” and a little underrated Britney ditty called “What’s it Like to Be Me,” co-starring the one-and-only ex, Mr. Timberlake.
While we may never know why the Darkchild remix of “Overprotected” didn’t fly straight to the top of the charts, what we can do is practice our “I’m a Slave 4 U” choreography until we get it right (even you, Beyonce) and tae note of the fact that Britney’s magnetic 2001 album will always be a music dream within a dream.
4.Alicia Keys/Songs in A Minor/15 YO That voice! Those braids! That piano! Yes, that’s what the whole world was thinking when a then twenty-one year old Alicia Keys welcomed us into her soulful world that was–and still is–like no other music artist on radio. Fronted by the musically irresistible heartbreak of lead single, “Fallin,” A Minor was a hit straight out of the new music artist gate and would eventually own the charts and the Grammy Awards the following year, with Ms. Keys going on to snatch up six trophies the following year for her blockbuster debut.
Highlights of course include “Fallin,” the baby makin’ groove, “A Woman’s Worth,” and the powerful, “How Come You Don’t Call Me.” But if you really want to dive in deep, let the Jermaine Dupri assisted, “Girlfriend,” get you to really throw it back to a delighful time fifteen years ago that was all wrapped up in Ms. Alicia.
5.Adele/21/5 YO Hard to believe, but it’s been five years since Adele sat in a chair and destroyed all of our souls with the bulldozer of a song and video that was her love scorned 21 sonnet, “Rolling in the Deep.” All broken dishes aside, “Deep” was just the beginning of a 21 music journey that would take the English Breakfast tea sipping diva on the music ride of our lives–smash singles! lots and lots of Grammys! saving the music industry! more broken dishes!
21 came into our lives like an ex out of hell, and judging from the way the ten million plus selling set is still selling at a moderate pace, it shows us that Adele’s monstrous sophomore album has truly never stopped gripping our music heartstrings. Really, it was no surprise that follow-up 25 would destroy the world upon its release last year, as were certainly ready for it. It was this album that got us prepared for the inevitable takeover.
Pass the Kleenex, please.