Janet Jackson, ‘Unbreakable’ [ALBUM REVIEW]
Janet Jackson‘s Unbreakable would be a good substitute for your morning coffee. Her 11th album has just enough of the snap, crackle and pop needed to kick start the day. Similar to the album’s breakout single, “No Sleeep” featuring J. Cole, it’s nothing to snooze on — no matter what Khia says. While there are moments where the 17-track album plateaus, The Velvet Rope creator makes up for it with rocking jams and alluring melodies.
The 49-year-old pop icon makes a bit of a departure from the electronic sounds that were a constant in her music for the most part of the 2000s. Here, she reclaims the early ’90s vibe created on her 1993 Janet album while the overall aura on this project is reminiscent of songs like “All For You” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.” But also like Janet, which had “If,” Unbreakable delivers on the more upbeat, knocking tunes with songs like “BURNITUP!” and “Dammn Baby.”
Though the youngest Jackson sister is a veteran in the music industry, her latest effort proves she can connect with millenials without forcing the issue. She collaborates with J. Cole, one hip-hop’s top-tier rappers, on “No Sleeep,” which serves as a solid union. The singer’s soft voice is matched with Cole’s laid-back but poignant delivery. Not one to shy away from the theme of sex, Jackson embraces carnal desires with lines like “you better be ready my king, ’cause I’m gonna be the queen of insomnia.”
Another hip-hop-assisted number features the ever-timely Missy Elliott on the club banger, “BURNITUP!” which could’ve easily been a hit in any era since the ’90s. Elliott drops her usual entertaining rhymes that include “meows” and a twerk-motivating mantra: “make it work, make it work, make it work.”
The drum-filled song overshadows Jackson’s second single, “Unbreakable” though, an easily forgettable ode. While it’s a touching tribute to her fans, the song falls flat — it’s out of your mind almost as it’s heard. The proof is in the numbers as well since “BURNITUP!” was released three weeks after “Unbreakable” but has nearly triple the amount of YouTube views compared to the latter.
Watch Janet Jackson’s “No Sleeep” Video Feat. J. Cole
It’s the exact opposite for “Dammn Baby,” which immediately brings on the fireworks. In short, it’s hot. The Rhythm Nation leader croons over drum machine sounds as a male voice chants the title of the song throughout its run. Jackson has a good groove going.
The “Control” singer slows it down a few times on the album as well with the dazzling tribute to her late brother and King of Pop, Michael Jackson, with “Broken Hearts Heal.” “It was in summer that you left me / The fall and winter never felt so cold / And Lord knows words can never express it / Life feels so empty / I miss you much,” she confides. Another is the Latin jazz tune “Promise,” a testament to her success despite opposition. “Doing things / You couldn’t dream / So just watch / While I keep doin’ me,” she boasts.
But it’s “Night” that is a standout. “I woke up in heaven in the morning,” she immediately testifies over spacey sounds and the echo of her own voice before the head-nodding production begins. The love song, penned by five songwriters including Jackson, features some beautiful words as well. “Cross the other side of bliss / Proof that heaven does exist,” she confesses.
While it’s hard to argue that too much of Miss Jackson is a bad thing, the album does feel a bit lengthy with a total run time of a little over 64 minutes. But after seven years, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Teaming up with her tried-and-true producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jackson creates a fresh body of work that solidifies her knack for staying on the pulse of music. As she sings on “BURNITUP!” “Just give me that fire and I’ma show you how to burn it up.” It’s certainly lit.
Listen to Janet Jackson’s “BURNITUP!” Feat. Missy Elliott