“A diva is a female version of a hustla,” chimes Beyoncé in her subsequent single, “Diva.” Well, she hustles until middle-age kicks in…and then as we’ve seen…the hustle struggle can get pretty real, really quick.
By now, we know that time can be cruel to the female pop star rounding middle age. No matter how much talent she still might possess, once under the spotlight’s glare, critics (and all of us, admit it.) gleefully count out the wrinkles and search for the endless “Help, I’ve fallen on stage and can’t get up” memes. Really, just ask Madonna, 56, or 45-year-old Mariah Carey, whose career trails into middle age have been very challenging. There’s also Britney Spears, 33, Jennifer Lopez, 46, Celine Dion, 47, and Shania Twain, 49, who’ve already have taken the Vegas route. (Granted, Cher at 69 seems immune, but she’s the exception to everything, isn’t she?) So, can Ms. Janet Jackson survive the “aging diva” syndrome? The answer is in fact, yes.
Ever since this past May when she teased us with “new music, new world tour, a new movement,” Jackson has peeled off the layers of hype regarding the launch of her own Rhythm Nation Records (a worldwide partnership with BMG), her first studio album in seven years and the initial two legs of a world tour, which kicks off next month (Aug 31st) in Vancouver. In fact, Jackson’s new single, “No Sleeep,” has risen to No. 5 in its second week on Billboard’s Adult R&B airplay chart — her first top five hit on that tally in 11 years — and the track is getting even more heat now that red-hot rapper J. Cole has jumped on for a cameo. But most of all, her 65-date Unbreakable Tour is selling tickets at rapid fire. According to promoter Live Nation, 88 percent of the tickets on the trek’s first leg (Aug. 31 to Nov. 15) were purchased two weeks after going on sale; nearly 80 percent of the tickets for the second leg (Jan. 12 to March 9) were gone in two days. Not too shabby…
So, why is Janet’s big career comeback working for her and not those other divas who’ve crossed the middle age barrier? Philly Mixtape took a look at Ms. J’s triumphant return and came up with 5 Reasons Why it’s working like a charm-even if we’re only in the beginning of great things to come from Ms. Janet. Get lost in the music truth below.
1.She’s sticking to the music and producers that werk for her….
By now, we know that Ms. Janet is the Queen of the Bedroom;serving us with the perfect baby makin’ music during her illustrious four decade career. With Unbreakable lead single, “No Sleeep,” she delivers another headboard banger that’s complete with a fierce beat and sexy groove, which are all mixed to perfection along with Ms. J’s trademark coos.
While some fans grumbled that she didn’t deliver a dance smash a la “Feedback,” (I was one of those people, for a moment, anyway) “Sleeep” has proven to be a success on the charts, setting the perfect tone for her long-awaited new set. It also doesn’t hurt that she once again linked up with long time collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for the tantalizing budder beat. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? In Janet’s case, that theory is working like a charm during her comeback trail.
2.The accompanying video for “No Sleeep” is a delightful, subtle piece of the comeback puzzle…
Another reason that Janet is playing her comeback smart is that the accompanying video for “No Sleeep” features just Janet. There are no back up dancers to distract us, a million-and-one scene changes…and no bulls. While she may not serving us with memorable dance moves, the somber video is every bit as effective, showing just how fabulous and fierce Janet still looks after all these years. Now, is it one of Janet’s best videos? Absolutely not. But it creates just the right amount of sexy buzz for whatever is next on her elusive return to grand diva form.
3.She’s using just the right amount of spotlight…
It’s no secret that our divas love the spotlight (ahem, Mariah), but sometimes they can be all up in it so much on a comeback that it turns quickly into annoyances of “ugh, this bitch again.” (ask yourself, how many times have you said that about Madonna during her Rebel Heart trail this year?) While we know Janet is very shy and has never been one to hijack the spotlight, it’s because she knows her boundaries. While we can hope that she makes a handful of appearances before the album drops, we can bet that it will never get to that “ugh” level. Case in point, this year’ BET Awards when Ms. J only appeared for a short time, but had all of us clutching our music pearls and reveling in just how fabulous she looked. No flashing her ass on the red carpet was needed–and that’s what makes a true comeback diva. Hustle on.
4.She knows her audience…..
One of the biggest issues with our aging divas is that they go out of their way to find a new audience–while ignoring their loyal fan base (ahem, Madonna.) With Janet, you can tell she has nothing but love for her fan base with “No Sleeep” and isn’t linking up with whoever the kids are listening to these days to sell records. She isn’t going out of her way with countless appearances, writing lyrics about corn chips or putting on a Vegas show. She’s confident enough to know that while new fans are great, her loyal fans will follow her every move–and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing since May.
5.There are no gimmicks….it’s just Janet.
What it all comes down to is this…we’re getting served with the Janet that we were left after ’08’s Discipline cooled off in the headphones. There are no gimmicks, no annoying #RebelConversationsinACafe, no breakdowns on stage and no acting like a complete f$%kwad. It’s just Janet. Really, don’t we want to see all of our divas just being themselves during a grand return? These days, that theory seems like a lost art.
Those other ladies should take a note or two out of the music book because Janet is serving it up just right-and that’s why all of us have welcomed her back with open arms. Because, at the end of the day, there’s only one Janet, so why would we want anybody else? We don’t.