Do you ever feel like you merely exist as opposed to being alive? Does it feel like too much of your time is given to answering to what others want from you, be them your boss or your family, and too little time is given to doing what you want to do the way you want to do it? Do you know that changes are needed but don’t know where to begin?
You need to ask yourself WWJJD? What would Janet Jackson do?
Picture this – Los Angeles. 1982. You’re a 16-year-old girl from a famous family. You release your debut album, cleverly entitled Janet Jackson, with production overseen by your manager/father, Joseph Jackson. It peaks at #63 and goes on to sell fewer than 150,000 units over the next quarter-century. You follow up that album with 1984’s Dream Street. It peaks at #147 and sells fewer than half as many copies as the first album. You didn’t want to do either album but you did them for your father.
You come to a realization – you want to be the one who’s in control of your destiny. You fire your father as your manager. You have your marriage annulled. You work with new producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who collaborate with you on new songs about your newfound independence, from your father, from your ex-husband, and from nasty guys who objectify you and call you Baby when your first name ain’t Baby; it’s Janet.
Your father demands you record your third album in Los Angeles. You record it in Minneapolis. Your father tells a reporter “If Janet listens to me, she’ll be as big as Michael,” referring to Janet’s brother Michael Jackson, not Michael Schoeffling, who portrayed Jake Ryans in the movie Sixteen Candles, and who, with all due respect, isn’t that big. You ignore him. Your father listens to a pre-release copy of the new album and claims it will never sell. You demand it be released.
That album, 1986’s Control, sells over fourteen million copies. It goes to #1 and is nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.