The Velvet Rope: Wikis

  
  

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The Velvet Rope
Studio album by Janet Jackson
Released October 6, 1997
Recorded 1996-1997
Genre R&B
Pop
Soul
Length 75:23 (main edition)
78:50 (bonus track edition)
Label Virgin
Producer Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, René Elizondo, Jr.
Professional reviews
Janet Jackson chronology
janet.
(1993)
The Velvet Rope
(1997)
All for You
(2001)
Alternate cover
Australian tour edition cover
Singles from The Velvet Rope
  1. "Got 'til It's Gone"
    Released: September 22, 1997
  2. "Together Again"
    Released: December 2, 1997
  3. "I Get Lonely"
    Released: May 8, 1998
  4. "Go Deep"
    Released: June 15, 1998
  5. "You"
    Released: September 3, 1998
  6. "Every Time"
    Released: November 16, 1998

The Velvet Rope is the sixth studio album by American recording artist Janet Jackson, released October 6, 1997 by Virgin Records. Prior to the album's release, Jackson renewed her recording contract with Virgin Records for unprecedented $80 million dollars in January 1996, establishing her as the then-highest paid recording artist in contemporary music. The Velvet Rope was produced and co-written by long-term collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; Jackson and her then-husband René Elizondo, Jr. served as executive producers.

During the two years prior to the release of The Velvet Rope, Jackson struggled with a long-term case of depression. As a result, she frequently took time off during the recording of the album or abruptly left the studio during recording sessions. The Velvet Rope became a concept album based on Jackson's embrace and disillusionment with her status as a celebrity. Though Jackson introduced sexuality into her music with her previous album janet. (1993), The Velvet Rope takes the concept a step further, encompassing sadomasochism and same-sex relationships as lyrical content.

The Velvet Rope debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, becoming Jackson's fourth consecutive album to top the chart, selling over ten million copies worldwide.[3] The Recording Industry Association of America has certified The Velvet Rope triple platinum. The Velvet Rope is also ranked at number 256 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[4]

Contents

Conception

Background

In January, 1996, Jackson renewed her recording contract with Virgin Records for a then-unparalleled $80 million dollars.[5] The four-album record deal marked the second time Jackson had broken the industry's record for an unmatched recording contract; the first in 1991 when she signed her original contract with the label for an estimated $32–50 million.[5] Jackson's renewed deal with Virgin surpassed the recording industry's unprecedented $60 million dollar recording contracts earned by her brother, Michael Jackson, and Madonna.[1][5][6]

During the two year period between the end of the janet. Tour in 1995 and the release of Jackson's sixth studio album The Velvet Rope in 1997, the entertainer had been battling a long-term case of depression.[7] Jackson revealed in an interview with Oprah Winfrey "[t]here were times when I cried all day".[7] Writing for the album began in August 1996 and continued into 1997. Janet returned to the studio in January 1997 to begin recording the album over a six month period. Recording finished in July and the album was mixed and mastered into September 1997.

Concept

The concept behind The Velvet Rope was in introspective look into Jackson's bout with depression. Michael Saunders of The Boston Globe described the album as a "critical self-examination and an audio journal of a woman's road to self-discovery".[8] Though Jackson expressed she always used her personal life as a source of inspiration for her music, she professed The Velvet Rope was her most accomplished album to date.[8] Amidst the album's socially and morally conscientious songs, such as "Together Again", which is an homage to those Jackson has lost to AIDS, "What About", a song about domestic abuse and "Free Xone", which speaks out against homophobia, the album represents Jackson's two-year period of soul-searching.[8]

I've always been able to push the pain aside, whether it was from my childhood, because being in the business, they always tell you it's not professional...It got worse when I said I'm going to take this on. And it got worse still. It took six months to record this album, but I feel it has taken 31 years. There were times I had to walk away from the microphone and come back a few days later when I could tackle it...Just because you have money doesn't mean you're happy. It doesn't mean that all your problems go away. Just because someone thinks that you're beautiful, it doesn't mean that you feel that way. Or that growing up in such a huge family, and seeing them having such great success, that you might feel worthless.[8]
Janet Jackson, The Boston Globe

The concept behind the album's title The Velvet Rope is both a literal depiction of the velvet ropes commonly used to separate crowds of fans, spectators, and media personnel from celebrities, and according to Jackson, the metaphorical velvet rope within every human being which keeps their true feelings separated from those around them.[9]

This album is called 'The Velvet Rope' because it's about the need to feel special... Which I feel we all have. One example is when you go to the nightclubs. There's the people that have to wait behind the velvet rope vs. those that can just walk right in. They're 'special.' Then once the people are in, there's still this feeling that some of those 'special' people have, that they want to be separated from the rest. So there's another velvet rope, which leads to the VIP section. This need to feel special can bring out a positive side or a negative side.[10]

Music

"Together Again" is an homage to loved ones Jackson has lost to AIDS as well as AIDS victims and their families worldwide. Jackson was reportedly inspired to write the song from her own personal experience, as well as a piece of fan-mail she received from a young boy in England who had lost his father.[11] According to Jimmy Jam, "it had a deep meaning for her because it was about a friend she lost to AIDS, but as with all her songs, she tries to make them apply in a general sense to anybody. The idea was to make it a joyous song musically".[12] The arrangement of the song was constructed in 30 minutes by Jam, Lewis and Jackson while in the recording studio.[12] Once the melody was in place, Jackson finished writing the lyrics to the song.[12] Jam and Lewis produced two versions of the song; the original dance version and the "Deep Remix" which was a slow ballad. The dance version was inspired by Donna Summer's "Last Dance".[12] Despite very sexual and explicit lyrics on a majority of the album's tracks, the album was never issued with a Parental Advisory warning. On iTunes, the album is tagged as Explicit and has a parental advisory warning, however, no clean version is offered.

Release and promotion

Singles

"Got 'til It's Gone" was released as an international single and received radio airplay in the United States, but was not released as a commercial single within the country. The single peaked at number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay and at number 3 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay.[13][14]

"Together Again" peaked at number one of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and at number eight on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.[15] The single entered the Hot 100 on December 20, 1997, peaking at number one on January 31, 1998 and topped the chart for two weeks.[11] "Together Again" spent a record 46 weeks on the Hot 100 singles chart.[11] On January 9, 1998, "Together Again" received gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America.[16]

"Go Deep", like "Got 'til It's Gone" was released as an international single but was not commercially available in the United States. The song received radio airplay and peaked at number 28 on the Hot 100 Airplay and number 11 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay.[17][18]

"I Get Lonely" peaked at number three on the Hot 100 singles chart and at number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.[15] On June 30, 1998, the single was certified gold by the RIAA.[19]

"You" was released as the album's fifth single in September 1998. Although the single received a promo release in the United Kingdom, it was ineligible to chart.

The ballad "Every Time" was released as the album's sixth and final single in late 1998. The song was relatively a commercial failure in many countries. It failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.

The Velvet Rope Tour

D'Shawn Tyree Elliott of The Independent described Jackson's concert at the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre in Glasgow June 3, 1998 as "enormous theatrical extravaganza".[20] As with all of her live performances, Jackson was accompanied by a dance troupe, elaborate costumes, pyrotechnics and mobile video screens.[20]

Janet's concerts are the pop equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie, with all the explosions, special effects, ersatz sentimentality, gratuitous cleavage and emphasis on spectacle over coherence that the term implies. You want thrills and chills? Howabout that creepy routine that went with "You", in which the dancers wore masks on the front and back of their heads? You want titillation? On "Ropeburn", Janet made one fan's fondest dream and worst nightmare come true at the same time. He was plucked from the audience and strapped to a chair so that a semi-clad, pole-dancing Janet could give him a close-up of her Wonderbra. The nightmare? The entire audience was given a close-up of his anguished, ecstatic face on the screens.[20]
Nicholas Barber, The Independent

Jackson chose "Together Again" for the finale of her tour's concert line up because of the energy it generated with the audience.[12] Jam stated, "[o]pening night... when she hit the very first notes, the whole crowd started singing and practically drowned her out... Everyone can relate to someone in their life passing away or feeling like they want to be together again with somebody."[12]

Reception

Commercial performance

The Velvet Rope debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and at number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, selling 202,000 copies in its first week.[21][22]In its second week, U.S. sales saw the album fall to number 2 with 181,000 copies sold.[23]In its third chart week, the album fell to number 5 with sales of 34,000 copies.In its fourth chart week, the album fell to number 18 with sales of 17,000 copies, achieving total U.S. sales in its first month of 434,000 copies.[24] .Despite the album's strong debut and critical acclaim, it was Jackson's weakest commercial effort since 1984's Dream Street. The album sold two million copies within opening 47 weeks of its chart-life, while Jackson's previous album janet. had exceed sales of ten million copies worldwide.[25] The album was first certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on November 11, 1997 denoting 500,000 units shipped within the United States.[26] The same day, the album's certification was raised to platinum, denoting 1,000,000 units shipped.[26] The following year on March 26, 1998, the album was certified double platinum and later triple platinum on January 15, 1999.[26] By March 2009, The Velvet Rope has sold 3,227,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[27] Wordlwide, it has sold over 10 million copies.[28]

Critical response

The album was overwhelmingly positive with professional critics and music buffs alike. The Boston Globe's Michael Saunders described The Velvet Rope as a "low-key, surprisingly good return to form for Miss Janet, a disc that will stand up to her previous gems".[29] Los Angeles Times pop music critic, Elysa Gardner comments: "The Velvet Rope" picks up where "janet." left off, in both its themes and its textures. Ostensibly a concept album centered on our common need "to feel that we belong," as Jackson declares on the percolating title track, this new collection of songs and "interludes" addresses the social, emotional and sexual politics of relationships, peppering the wistful, spirited pop melodies and sinuous R&B rhythms that are fundamental elements of the Jackson-Jam-Lewis sound with compelling jazz, folk and techno nuances."[2] An additional review by Robert Hilburn, stated "[t]he theme here is the ways social and psychological forces separate us and make us all feel as if we are on the wrong side of the velvet rope in some area of our life. But don't feel guilty if you lose track of the plot and just fall under the spell of all the pop and hip-hop delights that Jackson and co-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have given us".[30] J.D. Considine of Entertainment Weekly complimented Jackson's resolve to sing about sex as if "its a fact of life" and asserted "it's a mistake to judge this album on the basis of its lyric sheet".[31] He praised Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for the quality of their production, which "clearly articulates the emotional core of Jackson's songs".[31] Considine awarded the album an A rating, with the closing statement "In the end, the most daring thing about The Velvet Rope isn't its sex talk but its honesty. Tempting as it may be to compare the album to similarly sultry stuff like Madonna's Erotica, it's much closer in spirit to the unabashed emotionalism of Joni Mitchell's Blue. That's because the most revealing moments here have to do with loneliness and vulnerability, not sexual preference".[31] Larry Flick of Billboard called The Velvet Rope "[t]he best American album of the year and the most empowering of her last five."[32]

Rolling Stone described The Velvet Rope as "part of a continuum, building from the self-empowering manifesto Control, the skin-deep social consciousness of Rhythm Nation and the hypersexual make-over of Janet".[33] The magazine declared the anti-homophobic "Free Xone" as the album's best song, as it "shifts moods and tempos on a dime, segueing from a Prince-like jam to a masterful sample from Archie Bell and the Drells' "Tighten Up."[33] Jackson's interlude "Sad" was criticized for its "poor-little-rich-girl" mentality, but the merits of The Velvet Rope were said to "ultimately [be] stronger than Jackson's sense of self-importance".[33]

Craig S. Semon of the Telegram & Gazette-Worcester remarked, "Jackson shows once again that she can compete against any of the lightweight, mega-selling pop divas and hang them out to dry".[34] He regarded the album's depictions of cyber-sex, lesbian love affairs, and outcry against domestic abuse and homophobia a work of "unbridled passion".[34] According to Semon, the title-track "Velvet Rope" "gives the listener an invitation to [Jackson's] innermost passions".[34] Jackson's struggle with disillusionment on the single "You" is said to be "reminiscent of Diana Ross before unleashing an angry Michael Jackson-like growl and refrain", while the Prince-like "Go Deep" is described as a "funky bump and grind about dressing sexily, dancing sexily and seducing someone to bring home for sex" and the examination of sexual orientation on "Free Xone" is said to "not [be] preachy or political - just passionate and to the point".[34] Semon assessed the album's greatest accomplishment was "What About," with Jackson "[r]oaring over a snarling rock beat and rivaling her brother Michael's angriest vocal belts, [and] shows her strength as she rips into an unflinching attack against her abusive lover and unleashing all the hell he has put her through on this R-rated roarfest".[34]

Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph condemned Jackson's attempt at expressing the pains of depression, as he stated "Janet mistakes platitudes for wisdom, [as] the suffering artist informs us there is nothing more depressing than "having everything and still feeling sad". She should try getting out more. A couple of weeks on a crack-addled Bradford housing estate trying to support eight children on state benefits would doubtless send her scurrying back to the cordon sanitaire of Beverly Hills, where she can take out her woes on an expensive analyst".[35] However, McCormick complimented the album's "solid song construction and arrangements" and described The Velvet Rope as "varied and appealing exercise in R&B pop".[35]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic, criticized the album for Jackson's attempt to "essentially [rework] the hushed atmosphere of janet., [while] neglecting to put a new sonic spin on the material".[36] In regards to the albums sexually explicit content, Erlewine remarked, "for an album that wants to push the limits, it sounds surprisingly tame".[36] Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson acknowledged that The Velvet Rope is the most "adult" album of Jackson's career, but asserted "it's also the most naïve".[37] Henderson remarks the album's sexually explicit material does not convince the listener that Jackson is capable of such escapades and that the albums political content did not surpass the concepts found on her 1989 album Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814.[37] However, in spite of these criticisms, Henderson commented "[b]ut behind the sex is something even more compelling, because it gradually dawns on you that Janet's use of sexuality is an evasive tactic... Soul sister to Madonna's "Erotica" (which, in turn, was her most daring performance), The Velvet Rope is a richly dark masterwork that illustrates that, amid the whips and chains, there is nothing sexier than emotional nakedness".[37]

Track listing

  1. "Interlude: Twisted Elegance" (Janet Jackson, James Harris III, Terry Lewis, René Elizondo, Jr.) – 0:41
  2. "Velvet Rope" (featuring Vanessa-Mae) (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo, Malcolm McLaren, Trevor Horn, Mike Oldfield) – 4:55
  3. "You" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo, Harold Brown, Sylvester Allen, Morris Dickerson, Howard Scott, Leroy Jordan, Lee Oskar, Charles Miller) – 4:42
  4. "Got 'til It's Gone" (featuring Q-Tip and Joni Mitchell) (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo, Joni Mitchell, Kamaal Ibn Fareed) – 4:01
  5. "Interlude: Speaker Phone" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 0:54
  6. "My Need" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo, Marilyn McLeod, Pam Sawyer, Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson) – 3:44
  7. "Interlude: Fasten Your Seatbelts" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 0:19
  8. "Go Deep" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 4:42
  9. "Free Xone" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo, James Brown, Billy Buttier, Archie Bell, Michael Hepburn) – 4:57
  10. "Interlude: Memory" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 0:04
  11. "Together Again" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 5:01
  12. "Interlude: Online" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 0:19
  13. "Empty" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 4:32
  14. "Interlude: Full" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 0:12
  15. "What About" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 4:24
  16. "Every Time" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 4:17
  17. "Tonight's the Night" (Rod Stewart) – 5:07
  18. "I Get Lonely" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 5:17
  19. "Rope Burn" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 4:15
  20. "Anything" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 4:54
  21. "Interlude: Sad" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 0:10
  22. "Special"/"Can't Be Stopped" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 7:55
    ("Special" is written as 3:30 on album cover)

Bonuses

Japanese edition
  1. "Special" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 3:22
  2. "God's Stepchild"/"Can't Be Stopped" (Jackson, Harris, Lewis, Elizondo) – 7:53
Australian tour/special edition bonus disc
  1. "Got 'til It's Gone" (Armand Van Helden Bonus Beats) – 5:05
  2. "Together Again" (Tony Humphries 12" Edit Mix) – 10:00
  3. "I Get Lonely" (Janet vs. Jason - The Remix Sessions Pt. 2) – 8:45*
  4. "Go Deep" (Vocal Deep Disco Dub) – 8:15
  5. "Every Time" (Jam & Lewis Disco Remix) – 4:10

*Mis-labeled as The Club Remix - 8:10

B-Sides Accept Me

Samples

Charts

Charts[38] Provider(s) Peak
position
Certification Sales/Shipments
Australian Albums Chart ARIA 4 2× platinum[39] 140,000
Austrian Albums Chart IFPI 9
Canadian Albums Chart CRIA/Nielsen SoundScan n/a 3× platinum[40] 300,000
Dutch Albums Chart NVPI/Megacharts 3 Platinum[41] 100,000[42]
European Albums Chart IFPI n/a Platinum[43] 1,000,000
French Albums Chart SNEP 5 Platinum[44] 500,000[45]
German Albums Chart IFPI/Media Control 5 Gold[46] 250,000
Norwegian Albums Chart IFPI/VG Nett 4 Platinum[47] 40,000
Swedish Albums Chart GLF 4
Swiss Albums Chart IFPI 5 Platinum[48] 50,000
UK Albums Chart BPI/The Official UK Charts Company 6 Platinum[49] 300,000
U.S. Billboard 200 RIAA/Billboard 1 3× Platinum[50] 3,227,000[27]
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 2

Accolades

American Music Award

  • Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist

Grammy Award

  • Best Music Video, Short Form ("Got 'til It's Gone")

Billboard Music Award

  • Top R&B Female Artist of the Year

Soul Train Music Award

  • Lena Horne Award for Outstanding Career Achievement

Blockbuster Entertainment Award

  • Favorite R&B Female Artist

GLAAD Media Award

  • Outstanding Album ("The Velvet Rope")

MTV Europe Music Award

  • Best Female Artist

VH-1 Fashion Award

  • Most Stylish Music Video ("Got 'til It's Gone")

BMI Pop Awards

  • Most Played Song: I Get Lonely
  • Most Played Song: Together Again

Danish Music Awards

  • International Album of the Year: The Velvet Rope
  • International Single of the Year: Got 'til It's Gone
  • International Female Solo Artist of the Year

World Music Awards

  • Legend Award for Outstanding Contribution to Pop & R&B Music

References

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  3. ^ Janet Jackson's Greatest Hits Celebrated on Number Ones, Universal Music Enterprises: PR Newswire, 2009-10-14, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/janet-jacksons-greatest-hits-celebrated-on-number-ones-64079852.html, retrieved 2009-10-14 
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  6. ^ "Briefly...", USA Today, 1996-01-14 
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  23. ^ http://www.billboard.com/#/charts/billboard-200?chartDate=1997-11-01
  24. ^ http://www.billboard.com/#/charts/billboard-200?chartDate=1997-11-08
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  27. ^ a b http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/ask_bb/index.jsp
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  32. ^ Flick, Larry (1998-12-03), "The Year in Music", Billboard 109 (52): 16, ISSN 00062510 
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  34. ^ a b c d e Semon, Craig S. (1997-11-30), "Janet Jackson pulls no punches on "The Velvet Rope'", Telegram & Gazette-Worcester: 8 
  35. ^ a b McCormick, Neil (1997-10-18), "The Arts: Give her enough rope... Reviews Rock CDs", The Daily Telegraph: 11 
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External links

Preceded by
You Light up My Life: Inspirational Songs by
LeAnn Rimes
U.S. Billboard 200 number-one album
October 25, - November 1, 1997
Succeeded by
You Light up My Life: Inspirational Songs by
LeAnn Rimes







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