Janet Jackson imposes some “Discipline”

Although Janet Jackson is suffering from the flu this week (get well soon, Janet!), she has to feel pretty dang good about her rise back to the top of the pop class. Yep, Janet Jackson is No. 1 again! Jackson’s new album, Discipline, hit the shelves late last month and debuted at Billboard’s top spot. Will it stay there? Who knows, maybe not, but what a nice turn of events for Jackson.

Though the reviews have been rather mixed, there is no question, based on the record sales alone, that the album holds some quality tracks, and the ones that have gotten airplay so far have been well received. Obviously, she has very loyal fans, as well, but she’s always had those fans, and that fact alone didn’t drive her last two releases to the top of the charts. Those two, Damita Jo and 20 Y.O., debuted at Billboard No. 2 but slid very quickly in the following weeks. This time around, the label pre-released several tracks. So, I’m going to give the album tracks some credit here.

Several of the more positive critical reviews have compared the feel of the CD to such Jackson classics as Control and The Velvet Rope, though I’ve read no review that suggest that this CD is as good as either of those. But, hey, the comparison is nice anyway, right? I’ve been rolling around listening to the CD on the Harman/Kardon, and I have found the album to be sexy, with the right blend of pop rhythms on some tracks, trance/dance rhythms on other tracks, fun lyrics when the music calls for it, and some lyrics much too sexual to blast from open car windows while sitting at a red light next to a car of church-going ladies. Oops …

What’s interesting is that this isn’t simply an innocent little pop album. There are a few very provocative tracks on the album. Having said that, there are also several tracks that stand out as being what I enjoy most about pop music in general (the simplicity with nice beats) and Janet Jackson in particular (sexy with her blend of naughty and sweet).

I’ve found “Can’t Be Good,” “Curtains,” “Rollercoaster,” “What’s UR Name” and my current personal favorite at the moment, “LUV,” to be rather easy to enjoy. There is even a Missy Elliott collaboration, though it’s not necessarily tops on my list — but I may have had higher expectations given that it’s Missy and Janet. The album also has Janet’s trademark verbal interludes, and quite a few are equally entertaining.

The most recent video release from the album is the song Rock With U. The track has that type of rhythm that will make it a dance club mix fave before too long.

It would seem that it would be great! to be Janet Jackson these past six months. October set off the fun when Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married shockingly debuted at No. 1 at the box office. The film featured Jackson in a somewhat rare screen role. Her involvement was no small matter: It gave the movie some additional buzz and publicity. Plus, her performance highlighted Jackson’s triple-threat credentials once again.

Having this CD debut at the top spot on the heels of the movie’s success has to feel like some form of redemption for Jackson. I’m almost certain that she’s the only woman in American history who has had one of her breasts become the focus of a Congressional hearing! “Wardrobe malfunction” became part of the American lexicon. She was a quick punchline for every nighttime talk show host and two-bit comedian telling lousy jokes at lousy venues for months upon months. And now, at last, maybe she can laugh a little.

I sure wish that Jackson felt well enough to sing live on Saturday Night Live this Saturday night … live. Her performances are actually very masterful. She has an incredible stage presence, and the live performance could actually enhance her album sales as well as her on-line music downloads. Now, I do enjoy Mariah Carey — the woman can sing — but it’s just too bad that Janet Jackson can’t continue to reap every benefit a live performance could offer since her album is fresh on the charts. Oh, well, from where I sit, getting the flu is about the only thing that has slowed the woman down recently.