May 4, 2001

Back to the Future

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Modern pop diva Janet Jackson returns to the recording studio and emerges with the album All For You. While many of her fans, including myself, are distinctively children of the eighties, her seventies-inspired flashbacks really hit the charts on her latest album release. Garnished with sultry lyrics and engaging beats, Janet has created an album with undeniable flavor.

Fashioned by longtime producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jackson returns with a sound that will forever be distinctively her own — sexy, bold, and daring. With the many current “pop-diva” personae that have recently entered the mainstream music scene, Janet remains true to her chart-topping reputation and even surprises her fans with some creative new stylized techniques.

Although this album has typical pop-diva flair, the previously mentioned seventies-inspired flashbacks are ingrained throughout the album. While all of her fans, old and new, will tune into these tracks, they will be all the more appreciated by older Janet fans. Recorded as a duet with Carly Simon (an older pop diva), “Son of a Gun” is a revamped, and completely modernized and liberated, version of Simon’s 1972 hit “You’re So Vain.”

Other seventies infusions include a guitar segment from America’s 1972 hit “Ventura Highway” in Janet’s “Someone to Call My Lover,” and a lyrical reference to Five Stairsteps’ “Ooh Child” in “Truth.” Janet sings, “Ooh child/ Things are gonna get easier/ Ooh child things will be bright ’cause/ Truth will set you free.”

While this album may be categorized as pop-rock, Janet tries to combine several musical styles and genres into her latest production. Thus, Janet’s most ingenious track, “Trust a Try,” is a conglomeration of several musical approaches co-produced by hip-hop star, Rockwilder. With a string section in the introduction and some Broadway-inspired phrases, Janet has stepped out of the pop-diva arena, and entered the spotlight of true musical artistry.

While Janet undoubtedly parades her sexuality throughout the album, the level of sexual innuendos by no means compares to her erotically-themed 1997 album The Velvet Rope. Although not as pervasive, Janet’s lustful tracks spice up the album. For example, songs such as “Love Scene (Ooh Baby)” and “Would You Mind” (with its laundry list of sexual desires ending with orgasmic breathing) are characteristic of Janet’s flagrant display of sexuality.

Her lustful lyrics dominate the album, but Janet never loses her feminine charm. “Someone to Call My Lover” maintains the qualities of girlish dreaming in a dance-pop beat, as she sings, “Maybe we’ll meet at a club/ In fall so deeply in love/ He’ll tell me I’m the one/ And we’ll have so much fun/ I’ll be the girl of his dreams maybe.”

Yes, Janet breaks the mold of mainstream music, but there are several selections on the album that, although they keep the listener pumped, are sure to become overplayed radio hits (if they are not so already). The title track can be grouped with her other chart-topping hit, “Doesn’t Really Matter,” as well as “Feels So Right.” Yet, these songs still flow within the album. Although Janet may appeal to mainstream music listeners, this album deserves more than just mainstream praise — as usual, Janet is a sensation.

Janet ends her album on an uplifting and encouraging note. Breaking from her themes of love, lust, and sexuality, Janet concludes with words of inspiration as she sings: “I’m ’bout to change my vibe/ Today the sun’s gonna shine/ ‘Cause I made up my mind/ That today is the start of better days.”

As a whole, the album, with several spoken and musical interludes, flows smoothly from one song to the next, prompting its listeners to completely sample each track. All For You is thus characteristically Janet — its diverse and energetic nature is typical of Janet’s vivacious and spontaneous persona. With both slow, sexy songs and pop-inspired dance hits, All For You is a buffet of musical sampling — a buffet of style that is all about Janet.

Archived article by Barbara Seigel