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The Year in Music 2015 — Janet Jackson Returns


Rhythm Nation/BMGIt’s been years since we’ve heard from Janet Jackson, aside from an occasional headline pertaining to her marriage to Wissam Al Mana. However, in 2015 the singer ended her hiatus with a major comeback album, which coincided with the 30th anniversary of her debut album, Control.

Following ongoing rumors ranging from false album reports to a possible Las Vegas residency, the singer tweeted a video in May promising fans new music and a world tour. A month later, she delivered by announcing her brand-new single, “No Sleeep” — that’s “sleep” spelled with three ‘e’s — her first offering in nearly seven years.

The song, which featured J. Cole and was produced by her longtime collaborators, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, solidified her return to music by debuting at number 15 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart, her first entry on the list in five years. The single led the chart for six weeks, beating Janet’s previous longest reign, when her 1998 hit, “I Get Lonely,” led the chart for five consecutive weeks.  The track was also her first number one.  In total, Jackson has earned 27 entries since the Adult R&B Songs chart launched in 1993, including 11 top-tens.

Janet’s new music was met with a new, more conservative look as she prepared to release her eleventh studio album, Unbreakable, via her own label, Rhythm Nation Records/BMG. The album included a duet with Missy Elliott, with whom Janet hadn’t worked since her 2001 single, “Son of a Gun”.

In terms of sales, Janet proved supreme. Although she shared a release date with fellow R&B singer Tamar Braxton‘s Calling All Lovers, Janet’s Unbreakable debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It marked Jackson’s seventh album to reach that milestone. Unbreakable sold 109 thousand copies and 116 thousand equivalent album units in its opening week back in October. Janet is now just the third act to score #1 albums in each of the last four decades, joining Barbra Streisand and Bruce SpringsteenBillboard notes.

Everyone seemed to love Janet’s music, including her ex-boyfriend, Jermaine Dupri. “I think Janet’s record was cool,” he said in an interview with BET.

Later in the summer, Janet appeared at the 15th annual BET Awards show, which marked her first major television appearance since her 2009 BET Awards tribute performance for her late brother, Michael Jackson. During the ceremony, Janet was the recipient of the first-ever Ultimate Icon: Music Dance Visual Award.  With her mom and dad present, she said, “It’s been a very long moment to this journey…my heart is so full.”

Armed with new material, Janet made up for lost time by announcing an extensive run for her Unbreakable World Tour, with the first leg beginning in Vancouver, B.C. August 31, and wrapping up November 12 in Honolulu, HI.  During her trek, Janet looked extra fierce, thanks to shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti.  He created high-fashion footwear for her extensive outing, which attracted all-star fans like Beyonce and her daughter Blue Ivy for the Inglewood, California stop.

Aside from Janet’s musical achievements, the legendary singer also expanded her brand by launching a jewelry line called the Janet Jackson Unbreakable Diamonds collection. 

Although Janet didn’t receive any Grammy nominations this year, the diva is up for five nods for the 2016 NAACP Image Awards. including Outstanding Female Artist, as well as a nomination for Favorite R&B Artist for the People’s Choice Awards 2016. Jackson was also humbled by appearing on a recent list of nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, though she wasn’t inducted. 

On the flipside, Janet had two big medical scares.  The first occurred when her dad, Jackson family patriarch Joe Jackson, was hospitalized in Brazil after suffering a stroke in late July. Fortunately, he made a full recovery.  However, Janet announced on Christmas Eve that she was postponing the second leg of her Unbreakable World tour until the spring because she needs surgery.  She didn’t indicate what the problem was, but stated, “Please pray for me, my family and our entire company during this difficult time.”  That tour leg was to have started January 12.

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