Janet Jackson, high priestess of the royal family of weird, is celebrating her twenty years in ‘the biz’ with a new album: ’20 Y.O’. Shame she didn’t choose to celebrate with a platter of vol au vents, and some warm bucks fizz like us mere mortals, because ’20 Y.O’ really ain’t all that.
Folks in the know are tipping ’20 Y.O’ to be the album that will jump start Ms Jackson’s flagging career and recapture those halcyon days of the 80s when she was celebrated the world over for her ground breaking style and musical prowess, not, as have been her sole claims to greatness these past few years, her “wardrobe malfunctions”, or her talent for gaining and losing twenty pounds in the blink of an eye.
Obviously keen to erase the world’s collective memory of her brush with stripperdom, ’20 Y.O’ is being marketed for all its worth as Janet’s long-time-coming return to form, and is being heralded as the album that will emulate the success of 1986’s ‘Control’- wildly touted as the “landmark” album of not just her career, but of the R’n’B genre as a whole.
Big talk, big hype, but ’20 Y.O.’ fails to deliver. Despite the team behind ‘Control’ once more at the helm, aided and abetted by one of the most forward thinking producers in the industry today (Jermaine ‘JD’ Dupri), ’20 Y.O.’ is uninspiring in the extreme. It lacks energy, drive and passion: qualities that at one time were synonymous with anything that Ms Jackson produced.
The twenty tracks that make up ’20 Y.O’ are bland and immediately forgettable. Even drafting in the vocal talents of the ubiquitous Nelly on lead single ‘Call on Me’ fails to create much of an impression. The duet is insipid and try hard, much like everything else on the album. Interspersed between the tracks are snippets of conversation: Janet and, one assumes, one of her producers casually wax lyrical (pun intended) about all that has gone before. It’s all very self indulgent, all very pointless, and totally cringe inducing. Memo to Janet: if you’re going to subject your fans to your inane ramblings, you could at least chuck in a bit of salacious gossip or a few hot rumours.
Possibly the only memorable track of the entire set is ‘Enjoy’, and it’s for all the wrong reasons. There sure as hell ain’t anything “enjoyable” about the song. Four minutes and thirty seconds of exquisitely banal lyrics and lifeless melody topped off with a chorus of children mindlessly chanting ‘enjoy’. Over and over again. It’s the stuff nightmares and Stephen King movies are made of. Shocking stuff.
’20 Y.O.’ is not likely to pull in any new fans, nor will it set the charts alight, but if tedious, colourless, lacklustre R’n’B is your thing then it might just float your boat. A most disappointing effort all round.
Written for: Entertainment Wise