by Michael P Coleman
The element of surprise has been a hallmark of superstar Janet Jackson’s 30+ year career.
If you’re too young to remember, Jackson’s landmark 1986 Control album, with its defiant distancing from her famous family, surprised even her most ardent fans. I was one of them; I’ve loved that girl since she was little Penny on Good Times. As I think about it, Jackson’s entire recording career was a surprise, with her having spent the first years of her career focused on acting instead of trying to compete with her incomparable older brother, the King of Pop.
At the age of 19, Jackson fired her father (he’d been her manager) and shocked the entertainment world as she emerged from her brother Michael’s enormous shadow via a series of huge hit records (courtesy of wünderkinds Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) and impossibly sexy music videos.
Then there was the follow-up album a few years later. Instead of issuing a Control 2, the artist released Janet’s Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, an opus that was her generation’s What’s Going On? with a strong, running theme of social consciousness interspersed with a groove that wouldn’t quit.
Rhythm Nation encapsulated visual joys as well. What an impression she made in those jeans — Lord, those jeans! — that push up bra, blond, upswept wig, and that signature megawatt smile in her Herb Ritz-directed Love Will Never Do Without You video. I still haven’t recovered from it. “They said it wouldn’t last, but we had to prove them wrong…”. WOW.
Who can forget Jackson’s first secret marriage (to El DeBarge), her second secret marriage (to René Elizondo), her secret relationship (with Jermaine Dupri), or her third secret marriage (to Wissem Al Mana), which she has recently confirmed is ending just after having delivered her first baby — unless you believe a long-standing rumor that she had a baby with DeBarge when she was still in her teens).
And then there was the infamous Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.”
So Jackson knows a thing or two about the element of surprise. Hence, it shouldn’t have been that much of a shock when she released a video earlier this week that both confirmed her pending divorce and announced a new tour. But it was a shock — and Jackson dominated entertainment news coverage the next day. She’s certainly proven her penchant for masterful media manipulation — we all ate it up.
The tour is not the resumption of her truncated 2015 Unbreakable tour but rather a new one, entitled State Of The World. The tour’s title echoes one of the more popular album tracks from Rhythm Nation, whetting fans appetite for what’s sure to be a great show — if Jackson shows up for it.
The superstar’s last tour was plagued with cancellations and rescheduled dates, so I’m hoping she’s ready to hit the road and solidify her place among pop music’s would-be royalty. Sorry, Beyoncé but in my book, if anyone’s a triple threat, it’s Janet Jackson. She sang, danced and acted her way into my little elementary school heart way back in the day on Good Times — I STILL can’t pick up a clothes iron to save my life. You’d best believe I’ll have tickets to Jackson’s October 3 show in Sacramento — just in case she decides to join us.
Tickets for Janet Jackson’s State Of The World Tour stops in Sacramento and Concord go on sale at Ticketmaster at 10am Friday, May 5th.
Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelancer writer who would marry Janet Jackson if he weren’t still holding out hope to marry Diana Ross. Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:@ColemanMichaelP
362 total views