||From the Vault...
"The Velvet Rope"
© Virgin Records
Year of Release: 1997
Got 'Til It's Gone
Tonight's The Night
I Get Lonely
Can't Be Stopped
Janet Jackson related sites:
"The Velvet Rope"
"It's my belief that we all have the need to feel special and it's this need that can bring out the best in us
yet the worst in us. This need created the velvet rope."
This opens up the album The Velvet Rope, the first album of Janet Jackson to appear on WSVNRadio.net.
It is just ironic, that her famous brother, Michael's death occurred just a little over a year ago. On that note,
The Velvet Rope captured Janet's darker side and sadness that was occuring in her life at time. Just another
ironic note, that the sadness of this album, and the tragedy of losing her famous brother at only 50 years old, due
to the circumstances of his death, as well as personal problems he had prior.
Coming off two prior successful albums before Velvet Rope, Janet and Rhythm Nation, she had
definitely made a name for herself, just as close as her brother Michael. Yet the dark tones of Velvet Rope
turned heads of critics in a negative way, this album was still a fan favorite.
Yet Janet's problems dealt with depression within two years before the release of this album, other serious
matters covered throughout the album: Happiness on "Go Deep", Hope on "Together Again", Regret on "Got 'Til It's
Gone", Loneliness on "I Get Lonely", Anticipation on "Tonight's The Night", Pride on "Can't Be Stopped",
Self-Realization on "You", Horniness on "My Need", Emptiness on "Empty", Anger on "What About", Fear on "Every Time."
More seriousness topics: Spousal Abuse on "What About", Sado-Masochism on "Rope Burn", Masturbation on
"Interlude - Speaker Phone", Homosexuality, Lesbianism and Bisexuality on "Free Xone" and "Tonight's The Night."
(The CD booklet contains lyrics to each song, so it's obvious to figure out what each song was about.)
No doubt the critics didn't expect this from Janet, yet her fans took it in stride, and some said this album would be
one of their most favorites of her albums, if not, THE Best.
Aside from the seriousness of the lyrics, let's take a look at how this album fairs extremely well, musicwise --
The title track is as soulful as any tune heard on Smooth Jazz stations. Self-realization is the case on "You,"
yet the bass line definitely has the resemblance of War's "Cisco Kid." Joni Mitchell's hit "Big Yellow
Taxi" is used on "Got 'Til It's Gone," and also features rapper Q-Tip. Regret is the topic of this song,
and to those who truly enjoy this song, I regret (maybe) to say that this song is a least favorite for me.
Soulful in sound are the next two tracks, "My Need," and "Go Deep" "Free Xone" is mysterious
and funky, and samples music from the #1 hit from the 1970s, "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell & The Drells.
The most popular song from this album is "Together Again," a song that reached #1 on Billboard.
Signs of Hope is covered in this song, as Janet sings about friends she lost to AIDS. "Empty" is peaceful in
sound, despite the emptiness of its lyrics. "What About" starts out beautifully, yet it erupts into "anger
music", just as its lyrics. Very dark tune here. "Every Time" is simply a beautiful song, despite it's a song
based on fear. I can easily see this song related to Michael Jackson, and some of its lyrics could have related to him.
What is interesting is Janet's version of "Tonight's The Night." It's actually a remake of the song
made famous by Rod Stewart -- "Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)" The topic of bisexuality crosses the
mind, where as most female singers who take on a male song, change the "him" to "her", "guy" to "girl", or "he" to
"she" etc. Not the case here, Janet sings about the "girl" here, which makes one wonder about Janet's own sexuality.
As for her version remake, it's very well done. Quite differently than its original in sound, even so, the lyrics
of the "girl" remained of the same sex.
"I Get Lonely" definitely has today's Soul. Loneliness is the topic of many songs, whether it be covered
in Rock, Country, Soul, and other genres. "Rope Burn" is definitely sexy, groovin'. "Anything" is
another Soulful song in sound, easily fitting the Smooth Jazz formats, and for those who enjoy Sade, it's sound has
her comparison. "Special" is another good track, in sound. There is a hidden track, after "Special,"
the song called "Can't Be Stopped." Musically as most songs on this album, its another good track.
Despite the dark issues of songs on The Velvet Rope, it's easy to see how Janet fans do consider this
album as a favorite. Each song (with the exception of "Got 'Til It's Gone") is extremely well. Soulful, funky,
Janet Jackson proudly shows how she is a Soul Diva. The music here will grow on you, and reading the lyrics along
with each song does help, in understanding Janet's sadness and depression going on at the time. We all know this
sadness occured again with the death of Michael Jackson. But in the end, Janet Jackson is still a Diva, whether
her music covers the happier times, and in this case, darker times.
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