Friday, August 20, 2010

Best Thing I Heard Today: Janet Jackson doing "This Time" and "New Agenda"

Assisted by Kathleen Battle's vocal impression of a theremin, Janet gives one of her most forceful performances:

Janet's never had the biggest voice, and her production team, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, perversely bury her inside their enormous productions, so that it's often hard to understand what she's singing. (To their credit, those productions sound fabulous.) This time they let her soar; we hear a litany of complaints about Janet's cheating boyfriend and all his "nasty hoes." Team Janet enliven their unremarkable breakup song by letting Janet's voice pop out of the mix, and by setting the breakup inside some sinister concert hall, replete with an orchestra and Battle's "opera solo."

Here's how it went down: heartbroken Janet hired the ensemble for the sole purpose of humiliating her man. She rented out the hall, invited her unsuspecting boyfriend to join her for an evening of forbidden pleasure (maybe she sang him "You Want This" over the phone), and then ambushed him with a bunch of stern musicians wearing opera masks. (Wearing only opera masks?) Since this is Janet we're talking about, the boyfriend was also trampled by an exquisitely choreographed dance troupe. By the time she could say, "You're dismissed," he lay bloody on a stretcher. Don't cheat on Janet.

Because it's Friday and I can't decide and Jam & Lewis make the best drum sounds known to man, here's Janet's happiest social justice song, "New Agenda". At least, I assume it's a social justice song; her voice is buried inside an enormous production. (Sounds great!) The song features Chuck D and it's called "New Agenda", so what else could it possibly be about?

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