Whether directed toward the media, the public, or perhaps even members of her family, Jackson unequivocally states over a funky, fuzzy, swaggering groove, “It might sound odd to you, but what you think, it don’t mean nothing at all”. Repeated listens reveal she learned a lot from Frank Ocean (or maybe it was the other way around). Above the simple keyboard line and hypnotic snaps of “Broken Hearts Heal”, Jackson eulogizes her childhood with Michael. Michael Jackson’s child sister not only invented her own creative individuality, but in addition finally surpassed her brother as a commercial and cultural power. She got by initially via the novelty of her “I’m in control now” concept and by force of her Jam-Lewis production. She danced hard, the band played hard, and she flipped her lengthy mane as if she meant it. Her hard, angular dance moves and martial precision drained much of the fun out of the playful “Miss You Much”.
By the time she closed the evening with the new “Shoulda Known Better” and the “Unbreakable” title track, which was sweetened by the harmonies of her three backup singers, Ms. Jackson had already established a flawless bridge across the decades. But Janet still wants to fight, singing “Part of the revolution/We won’t accept excuses/We tolerate no abuses”.
She wisely closes the album on an upbeat note, the giddy “Gon’ B Alright“, which is clearly influenced by the Jackson 5. Working with songwriters and producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for the first time since 2006’s 20 Y.O.
I Wish She Would Have Played …: “Just a Little While”, the breezy 2004 guitar-pop single that tanked in the wake of her Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” but which, in both sound and content, could have been a classic Prince song from the early 1980s. Artists from Beyonce to Britney, Pink to Usher, FKA Twigs to Tinashe have cited Janet as a primary influence.
Janet makes up for that lack of intimacy with her most sonically diverse set since 1997’s quirky, hypersexual The Velvet Rope.
Fans have been fast to react, including actor Sean Haynes (Will & Grace, 30 Rock) who gives is very own lipsynch interpretation of the song – as Missy Elliott.