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Janet Jackson - 'Make Me'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:00 UK time, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Janet Jackson

Grief makes people do funny things. Grieving in the public eye is even worse, because no matter how you choose to handle it, there will always be someone writing some snarky column somewhere about how undignified you are. They will probably trot out some variation on the phrases "is that what [person who died] would want?" or "barely in his/her grave", or even throw the word "spinning" in there, just to really stick the boot in.

In the case of Janet Jackson and her brother Michael, there's even less chance of telling right from wrong, because everything is viewed through the prism of massive celebrity and a voracious entertainment industry which is more than willing to turn a tragedy into a business opportunity.

Or, to put it into simple terms: "Hey, everyone, Janet Jackson has a new greatest hits CD out! And she's done a new song! A song which refers to Michael a bit! Come see!"

(Here's the video. It's surprisingly dingy.)

So, let's just say this and move on: This is a good song. There is one jaw-dropping moment, but possibly not for the right reasons. While Janet spends much of her time dodging the breezeblock funk and cooing her man into action - in a cleverly coded way so we're never entirely sure if she wants a smooch or a dance, or both, there's a bit when she appears to pay tribute to one of her brother Michael's songs, and I'm using the word 'tribute' because nothing else quite fits. The line in question is:

"Don't stop 'till you get it up"

You can see what she's driving at, right? 'Don't Stop Till You Get Enough' was fine for the '70s, when pop stars were a lot more coy, but ever since Madonna and Christina and Britney and Lady GaGa and hip hop and what-have-you, some double-entendres need fully spelling out.

Not all of them, of course, because that would be gross, but maybe a few here and there. And where better to start than with one of Michael's old song titles - as a tribute, remember - and what better time than now?

And actually, she could be on to something here. Making Michael's song lyrics more sexually direct could be The Future, especially if they're welded into a state-of-the-art discotronic velvet fug like this. Picture a world where Janet's NEXT greatest hits is riddled with songs called 'Wanna Be Starting Humping' or 'The Way You Make Me Feel You' or even 'Willy Jean'*, all delivered in that trademark honeyed purr and boasting astonishing production. What a amazing place that would be.

Still, it is not our place to judge. We're not judging Jermaine for doing Move Like Michael Jackson and we're not judging Janet now. Grief makes people do funny things, and sometimes the best you can do is hang around and help to clear up the mess afterwards.

Or, to put it into simple terms: "Isn't it great to have Janet back?"

Four starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: December 7th
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

* I am so, so sorry.



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