When you think of Janet Jackson, musically, it’s hard to pinpoint one sound to define her. Throughout her 30+ years in the music business, she has released an innovative, classic, and well, unbreakable, catalogue of music. Yes, her last two sets weren’t up to par, we’ll give you that, but so far… the 7 year wait for Unbreakable seems to be worth the wait, and the title track helps to prove just that.
Here are some elements that come to mind when I think of Janet’s music, in categories:
- Vocally: warm, layered, intricate arrangements, with varied, but always soulful stylings
- Musically: undefinably genreless, but diverse in influence, groovy, danceable, funky (and/or sensual, quiet storm, sexy, moody, smooth)
- Lyrically: personal, relatable, heartfelt, fun, sing-a-long, deep, narrative, thoughtful (and/or tongue-in-cheek (or elsewhere), naughty, innuendo-laden, explicit)
“Unbreakable” offers just about all of the (non-parenthesized) elements above.
It begins with Janet saying “side one,” and singing warmly over sparse production. The words are heartfelt, as she sings to her family, friends and fans. The pace is slow…until the beat drops.
By no means is “Unbreakable” a fierce, dance floor ready uptempo – but you can still dance and groove to it. It is indeed a fun, funky, soulful bop but still feels genreless in a way unique to Janet.
Then, of course, there’s her signature vocals – sometimes indiscernible but mostly warm, soulful and layered with the type of intricate background vocals that fans have come to expect from the Legend.
Lyrically, the song is an ode to her supporters and reflective about her life, but it also ends with a spoken interlude (which Jan is famous for) that sets up what seems to be a larger narrative for the album. She declares, “it’s been a while, lots to talk about… I’m glad you’re still here, I dedicate myself to you, I hope you enjoy.”
Certainly, I’m glad I’m still here, glad she’s still here, and can’t wait to hear what Ms. Jackson has to talk about. “Enjoy” doesn’t even begin to describe how I’m sure I’ll feel when I hear the whole album. As Janet would say, let’s keep the conversation goin’…