For more than two decades, mega hit-maker Janet Jackson has been rocking fans, single-handedly redefining pop music and reinventing the music video. In 1986, JJ, who’s 34 now, boldly informed the world that she was running things with her funky Control. She later spoon-fed us socially-conscious proclamations on 1989’s Rhythm Nation 1814, intrigued us with her uninhibited sexuality on 1993’s janet., made us dream with 1995’s Design of a Decade: 1986-1996 and taught us how to heal with the depth of 1997’s The Velvet Rope. This month, Janet dropped one of her most intriguing projects, All For You, which further explores her sensual and provocative nature.
Her groundbreaking talent still influences today’s budding pop princesses who shamelessly mimic Janet’s signature style (think Britney Spears’ Grammy performance. It was very what-have-you-done-for-me-lately-pleasure-principle-ish). And while the baby girl of the Jackson family continues to uphold the Jackson musical dynasty, her accomplishments simply make her one of a kind — that’s why MTV chose her as their first Icon award recipient in March. And while we catch JJ at the top of her game, here are a few facts about the pop queen.
Making good music
True to Janet Jackson form, her new album, All For You, sold 200,000 copies on its April 24 release date and has been no. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles and no. 2 on it’s R&B singles chart for the last four weeks.
Janet’s name was written in the stars at the tender age of seven, when she made her performance debut with her brothers at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, impersonating divas like Cher, Edith Bunker and Mae West.
A 9-to-5 sister?
As a child, Janet wanted to be a horse jockey (after all, she is only 5-foot-3) and study law.
Before Janet became a multi-platinum artist, she struggled to secure her career. At 15, she released her self-titled debut, which was a critical flop and peaked Billboard charts only at No. 63, selling merely 250,000 copies. She repeated the bleak sales figures on her 1984 sophomore effort, Dream Street, which plummeted to No. 147. It wasn’t until she took “control” in 1986 that her career took off.
To date Ms. Jackson’s garnered four Grammys, sold more than 50 million albums, and starred in 34 cutting-edge videos, five television shows, and two films.
Everyone knows about Janet’s eight-year secret marriage to ex-beau, video director Rene Elizondo, who she met 13 years ago when he was hired as a dancer for her big sister, LaToya. But do you remember her first marriage to James DeBarge, of the Debarge musical family? The marriage was annulled after seven months.
Got to give her credit
You may remember JJ’s roles in Good Times, Diff’rent Strokes and Fame, but did you know she had a two month stint (1979-1980) as Telma Hopkins’s daughter and Rob Lowe’s friend, Jojo Ashton, on the short-lived A New Kind of Family? And how can we forget her sweet-as-pie performance in 1985 on the otherwise forgettable episodes of The Love Boat?
Most likely to succeed
Before working together for the first time on Poetic Justice, JJ and John Singleton attended high school together at Portola High School in Tarzana, Calif.
Janet has four pet dogs, Puffy, Buck, Snow White and Tivoli.
In the late eighties, Janet topped her wardrobe with a signature look. Much like her brother Michael’s lone sparkling glove or sister LaToya’s fashionista headband, Janet wore the key to her family’s animal cage on one earring.
A hole in one
In a much-discussed 1999 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Janet confessed that she has two body-piercings — one on her nose and the other on her right nipple.