This article originated on the old paperbacknovel.com site, and continues to draw traffic on internet lookups — especially after Janet Jackson was just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This means I wasn’t the only one who was once incensed by having to endure the media inundation of Janet Jackson 15 years ago, while she whispered through her songs, provided generic, orchestrated dance performances, and won unjustified music awards — when she seemed to be the epitome of what was wrong with the music industry.
And so to regurgitate, sum up, and make it short: why Janet Jackson sucks — or used to suck and still does:
- Not a strong voice
- Not a creative dancer
- Not a strong performer
- Not an original songwriter
- Just Another replaceable part of a machine
Here’s the original article — written way back in 2003:
Let’s get this straight from the start — I’m not a Madonna fan. She’s an ego-driven creep, who has a mediocre voice, mediocre looks, mediocre dancing ability, and can’t play an instrument. But let me also tell you this, everything Madonna has done, she’s done it on her own. Janet Jackson on the other hand is the biggest fraud of all time, or at least of all the entertainers to make it mega-big-time in the last quarter century. She flat-out has zero talent. And just when you think her gravy train is about out of track, MTV honors her.MTV is proclaiming Janet Jackson a music “icon”. They are honoring her for her all-time contributions to the music industry. Which is exactly what? Riding the music-making machine that brother Michael built?
A Pure Accident of Birth
Michael was an original. He introduced dance moves and videos that turned the music industry on its heels. That same machine he put in place manufactured Janet Jackson into a star. They could have done it to any of the girls behind the counter at Blockbuster. Janet’s fame is a pure accident of birth. They created the music for her, wrote the words for her, told her how to dance the numbers (after teaching her how to dance), used her body to sell her albums, and perfected the art of making her whisper on all of her songs so they could easily drown her voice out.
This last part used to gall me. A Janet Jackson album would come out, and she’d be on top of the charts, and you’d see her advertised everywhere, and then you’d hear one of her songs, all of her songs, and you couldn’t hear her freakin’ voice! She’d whisper through the song… completely drowned out. Dance music; give the band a hand but what did Janet Jackson have to do with it.
Paula Could Dance
Contrast this to a Paula Abdul, who, if you missed it, was a pretty big star at about the same time that Janet Jackson arrived on the scene in the late eighties. Paula also couldn’t sing. She also had a music machine behind her writing her songs, filtering her voice out so it was acceptable. But Paula could Dance. She was an original. A choreographer. A former LA Laker girl who made it on her own. She choreographed other people’s videos, then took a stab at making it herself. And at the end of the day, she bowed out, tipped her hat, and made it a career. Thanks Paula.
She Built Her Own Machine
Which brings us back to Madonna. Like Paula, she started with nothing playing drums at CBGB’s in NY in the early eighties or some such thing. But she had charisma, she had energy, and she knew how to make a song that sounded good. Next thing you know she was a star. And yes, she used her sex like Janet did. And yes she desperately tried to be controversial. And yes, most of her music sucked and she had a big fat ego. But I tell you, she built her own machine, and you’ve got to give her that. She’s stayed on top. She made a video on Staten Island.
My biggest beef against her has always been about a movie I didn’t see — her egotistical autobiography, wherein, I’ve heard, they filmed Kevin Costner visiting her after a performance, and after the guy wishes her well with a couple of ‘golly gee, you were great’s’, she closes the door and tells somebody what a geek he is. Now that’s rude. Trying to wreck someone’s career on film. But you know what, Kevin Costner had it coming. Maybe he is a geek; actually, apparently he is a geek. And he didn’t need Madonna’s help to wreck his career on film. He did that by his own, il postino self.
Madonna has it coming too. It’ll come someday. It comes to them all. Look at Barbara Streisand, Elton John.. they think they’re on top, and the rest of the world laughs at them.
But Madonna’s not done yet. The cowboy album.. sounds pretty good. Might even buy it..