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Janet Jackson - Discipline

Janet Jackson, Discipline

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

WHILE brother Michael marks the 25th anniversary of his seminal Thriller album by cleaning it up and adding some reworkings, sexy sister Janet Jackson strives to push herself forward with the release of her tenth studio album, Discipline.

The result, unfortunately, is an ill-disciplined affair that’s hopelessly formulaic, pointlessly controversial and quite often in bad taste.

It boasts the usual who’s who of super-producers – from Rodney Jerkins (who produced the lead single Feedback with producer D’Mile), to Polow da Don, Pharrell, Jazze Pha and Johnta Austin. But there’s nothing really inventive about the processed beats and laboured melodies, while the lyrics flit between painfully cliched or just plain unsavoury.

Title track Discipline is, for instance, the pick of the dubious bunch that can be interpreted in one of two ways: neither of which is good.

The opening verse, for instance, reads like this: “I misbehaved, done some things I know I shouldn’t do, I touched myself even though you told me not to, U commanded me to wait for you (I tried), but I can smell you on my sheets, taste u on my skin so vividly, daddy, I disobeyed you, now I want u to come and punish me.”

Later on, she adds: “Did I upset you daddy, take out ur frustrations on me…” And that comes after numerous references to being stripped naked, tied to the bed and becoming “student” to daddy’s “teacher”.

Quite how Jackson wants this song interpreted isn’t made clear: it’s delivered in a seductive style, with the beats to match, but the lyrics leave a truly unpleasant taste, with the daddy references, quite frankly, appalling given that the album is most likely targeted at a young generation.

It’s not the only time. On former single Feedback, for example, she drops a line like “I’m heavy like a first day period” – supposedly cool, but really quite juvenile.

Incredbibly, Jackson can’t even conjure the tunes to compensate for the poor quality of the lyrics, as only a few tracks stand out.

Feedback is the pick of the bunch, and clearly polished enough for chart favour, while Luv is an amiable listen (albeit with an appalling aptitude for spelling and the sort of production values that were delivered most recently by Justin Timberlake!).

Rollercoaster is a fun and lively dancefloor filler, while The 1 clearly benefits from the presence of Missy Elliott, whose distinct flow lends proceedings a welcome sassiness that’s reflected in the kick-arse beats.

Let Me Know, meanwhile, tails things off in soothing enough fashion. But elsewhere, the album is lame, forgettable and tedious.

Rock With U borrows a little too heavily from Daft Punk in its use of electronic vocals, Never Letchu Go is an appalling, drippy ballad, and tracks like Curtain, Can’t B Good and What’s Ur Name aren’t strong enough to register anything but indifference.

The interludes that proliferate are also pretty pathetic – offering supposedly cool insights, but emerging as annoying interruptions to the overall flow.

The overall result is one of extreme disappointment and even anger that an artist of this quality could allow herself to stoop so low in places. It’s clearly time that Janet taught herself some discipline musically.

Download picks: Feedback, Luv, Rollercoaster, The 1

Track listing:

  1. I.D. (Interlude)
  2. Feedback
  3. LUV
  4. Spinnin (Interlude)
  5. Rollercoaster
  6. Bathroom Break (Interlude)
  7. Rock With U
  8. 2nite
  9. Can’t B Good
  10. 4 Words (Interlude)
  11. Never Letchu Go
  12. Truth Or Dare (Interlude)
  13. Greatest X
  14. Good Morning Janet (Interlude)
  15. So Much Betta
  16. Play Selection (Interlude)
  17. The 1-Feat. Missy Elliott
  18. What’s Ur Name
  19. The Meaning (Interlude)
  20. Discipline
  21. Back (Interlude)
  22. Curtains