Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Janet Jackson: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Justifications and Excuses, Part VIII

There really isn't any coherent argument for keeping Janet Jackson out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Every single marker is positive. She had a staggering number of hits, songs that defined an era of pop R&B, was an icon to millions of fans with her own distinctive style, and was a lasting influence on a generation of singers. Beyonce adores Janet Jackson and has called her "one of my biggest inspirations," and Beyonce, as you probably know, currently rules the world.

Probably the most impressive thing about Janet Jackson's career is the sheer bulk of it. Billboard rates her the seventh biggest pop star of the Hot 100 era, ahead of even her brother. (Michael, that is, not Jermaine, although she's ahead of Jermaine, too.) She's had ten Number One hits; only eight other artists have had more. She's had 27 Top Ten hits; only five other artists have had more (Madonna, Elvis, the Beatles, Michael and Stevie, all of them not just Hall of Famers but obvious Hall of Famers). Rhythm Nation 1814 is the only album in history with seven Top Five hits.

But what I admire the most about Janet Jackson is the way she has survived in the public eye for four decades, while her brother went crazy and Justin Timberlake exposed her nipple and she had to play a poet named Justice in a movie called Poetic Justice, and has continued to not just do whatever she wants but stay defiantly sane as well. Although she mostly avoided the hellscape that was the family singing group, she appeared on The Jacksons variety TV show at the age of 10, then became a full-fledged star at the age of 11 when she became a regular on Good Times, playing the abused child (!) Penny. She has said she made Control at the age of 19 outside of the family auspices just to get away from her father.

She's been a superstar and an icon ever since, but has never seemed like anything other than a normal person. She even made Michael's twisted angst relatable in the video for "Scream." If you can humanize Michael Jackson, you're really something special.

You do occasionally hear the argument that Janet was a product of her producers, that the brilliant team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were responsible for making her a star, starting with her 1986 breakthrough album Control. But Jackson herself took a producer's credit on that record, as well as a songwriting credit on all that album's Jam-Lewis songs. She got a solo writing credit on the Number One hit "Black Cat." The Jam-Lewis-Jackson team soldiered on through 2006's 20 Y.O., but Janet has always seemed the most important and irreplaceable part of that triumvirate.

Do I really have to convince you people? This is an obvious choice. I vote YES for Janet Jackson.


  1. Lots of black type, to use the terminology of a different HOF.

  2. Of course she deserves it, she's a blueprint. And yes, Janet has created great songs w/o Jimmy and Terry. She just opted to work with them because maybe she's more comfortable around them? "Don't fix what ain't broken"

  3. It should be a definite yes for Janet!

  4. It's true Janet deserves the recognition from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But, there isn't any need to tear down Michael in order to make your point. Michael endured more than anyone in the Jackson family and he protected Janet from more than we'll ever know while he continued to make his mark in the world and in history of music. In addition, we all know that Billboard ranking was not only incorrect, but, so far off the mark, it would be a waste if time to attempt to correct the entire list. Give the accolades to Janet as she deserves, but, please, stop trying to diminish the greatness of Michael in the process.

    1. The article does not tear down Michael. Chill.

    2. I didn't notice any 'tearing down' of Michael. It is what it is. Besides, Michael is in the Hall of Fame. This is Janet's time. It's ALL about Janet!

    3. I totally agree it is Janet's time and that she rightfully deserves to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Maybe the " tearing down" of Michael wasn't the correct terminology. But, comments such as "while Michael went crazy", "Michael's twisted angst" and " "If you can make Michael human" wasn't necessary in order to prove that Janet's talent, success and her longevity are
      more than worthy of her being inducted. For the record, Michael did not go crazy, his angst that was a result of a witch
      hunt was NOT twisted and he was
      ALWAYS human to those of us who
      followed him long before the rest of the
      world finally recognized his genius once Thriller was released.