Janet Jackson is something of a paradox. She’s one of the biggest pop stars on the planet—and one of the most mysterious. Despite her dozens of monster hits and multiple decades in the spotlight, Jackson has somehow managed to keep her private life private—no easy task for a member of the Jackson family. That’s why the release of her upcoming documentary JANET promises to be such a landmark event.
Set to air simultaneously over two nights on A&E and Lifetime in January 2022, JANET offers fans an “intimate, honest, and unfiltered look” at one of the greatest all-around entertainers of the last 40 years. The four-hour film was executive produced by Janet and her brother Randy, and it’s packed with footage from throughout Jackson’s legendary career.
“This is my story told by me,” Jackson said this in the trailer, which was released earlier this month. “Not through someone else’s eyes.”
In the teaser, famous friends like Missy Elliott, Mariah Carey, and Paula Abdul sing Jackson’s praises. They’re hardly the only ones who owe the singer a debt of gratitude. When Jackson released her blockbuster third album, Control, in 1986, she set a new template for strong, self-assured female pop. Control was Jackson’s third album. It was about her reclaiming her life and following her artistic instincts wherever she might go. Control topped the Billboard 200 and yielded five Top 5 singles, positioning Jackson for even greater triumphs in the years ahead.
As Jackson continued racking up hits with 1989’s forceful Rhythm Nation 1814 and 1993’s softer, sexier Janet, she inspired multiple generations of future pop and R&B titans. From Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera to Beyoncé and Rihanna, countless 21st century hitmakers have drawn direct influence from Jackson.
Her background makes her achievements all the more remarkable. By the time Janet started making records in the ’80s, the world had already become well acquainted with her brothers—one of whom happened to be Michael Jackson, arguably the most famous person on the planet. Jackson managed to create her own style despite everything.
On stage, there’s no one like her. She’s a fierce yet sensual dancer who flips from topical songs to tender ballads to pop bops with remarkable ease. While she’s collaborated with numerous rappers and R&B singers, she’s also responsible for “Black Cat,” one of the coolest rock songs of the ’80s.
A nuclear-grade quadruple threat (singer, dancer, songwriter, actress), Janet leaves everything on the stage and then slips back into her own world—a place the public rarely sees. Or at least that’s what she’s always done. The upcoming documentary is a chance for Jackson to flip the narrative and give fans the kind of access they’ve always dreamed of. “This is the truth,” Janet says it in the teaser. “Take it or leave it. Love it or hate it. This is me.”