Review: Janet Jackson - 'Unbreakable'

Janet Jackson : Unbreakable (Album Cover) photo ecb0b7f2.jpg

Seven years after the release of her underrated ‘Discipline’ album, Janet Jackson makes a triumph return to the scene with ‘Unbreakable’, her eleventh studio album.

As evidence by her world tour, which kicked off in August and shares the album’s title, Jackson has once again reinvented herself by opting for a more demure approach this time around. Whether this change is tied to the conservative views of her billionaire husband Wissam Al Mana or simply Jackson embracing her position as a 49-year-old woman instead of trying defy it like some of her peers (Mariah Carey and Madonna), it is a welcomed change and sonically, it produces some rewarding results. Here are our top 5 moments and overall thoughts beneath:

Top 5 Moments from ‘Unbreakable’

5. “After You Fall”: With just a piano and her voice, Jackson captivates on the disc’s most minimal moment. Her voice has never soared or amazed like Whitney Houston or Celine Dion, but her success has rivaled (and maybe even surpassed) them because of her and producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ awareness of what her voice is and what it does best. Whether it be a defiant anthem like “Nasty”, an overly-sexualized rampage like “Any Time, Any Place” or a traditional love ballad like “Again”, they always craft songs that bring out the best parts of her voice and that is undeniably evident here.

4. “Unbreakable”: Serving as the album’s opener and title track, it arises as a moving tribute to the fans that have stuck with her through thick and thin as she describes a love that survives the test of time and defies the odds in a way that doesn’t feel cliché. It stands as a humbling moment for the iconic singer, who openly gives her supporters credit (“The truth is I wouldn’t be here without the love I stand on”) and admits that for her it is the greatest love. It’s a connection that much like Jackson herself has proven to be “Unbreakable”, and while I think this would have been a poignant way to close out the set, the message still resonates.

3. “Dammn Baby”: Imparting her wisdom on the younger generation, here she seems to challenge artists to create their own trends instead of following them and to “get up off that grey line”. The message is cleverly wrapped in the midst of an infectious beat and hook that keeps it from coming off as cocky or rude, but it is a message that needs to be heard and her delivery is spot on.

2. “The Great Forever”: Utilizing her voice in a style that is reminiscent of her late brother Michael Jackson, she addresses the rumors surrounding her relationship with Al Mana and insists that the unsolicited opinions “don't mean nothing at all” and “doesn't change who I love”. The overall message is not simply to defend her relationship, but to encourage people to live their lives in a way that makes them the happiest and leads them to “The Great Forever”. Whatever that means to them.

1. “BURNITUP!”: The dance floor ready jam is equipped with the classic sound that we are accustomed to hearing from her, while simultaneously being current enough to fit in with today’s musical landscape. As always, Missy Elliott adds a fun and flirty fare to mix and it cultivates into one of, if not, the disc’s most enjoyable moment – certainly the most radio friendly.

Honorable Mention

“Broken Hearts Heal”: While “The Great Forever” may borrow vocal stylings from her brother, this is actually the song that is about him. She reflects on their childhood and references growing up with an abusive father (“We danced and sang our way through most anything”), while also acknowledging the bond that they shared as adults. But, it’s not a sad song and instead sees Jackson finding solace in the fact that one day they will see each other again.

“Night”: This funky groove recalls vintage Prince in the best way and Jackson is arguably the only artist besides the man himself that could effectively pull this off. It is a blast from the past of sorts, but still feels current and will undeniably find its place as a dance floor staple.


Final Verdict

With ‘Unbreakable’, Janet Jackson has accomplished just what she set out to do, which is to simply make music that continues to push boundaries and embody who she is as an artist. There is no need or desire to chase trends, because she created them, and while there are not a lot of commercial ambitious songs here, it still results in her most fulfilling set since the Super Bowl scandal.


OUT OF 5
Review: Janet Jackson - 'Unbreakable' Review: Janet Jackson - 'Unbreakable' Reviewed by Celebrity Bug on 10/15/2015 Rating: 5

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