Janet Jackson: Discipline

Fifteen years ago, Janet Jackson revealed her sensual side on the groundbreaking janet., and critics and fans alike were enticed by the pop star's seductive coos and come-ons. However, judging by her last two albums, Damita Jo and 20 Y.O., years of confiding fantasy after fantasy have led her listeners to embrace abstinence — at least when it comes to buying her records. Still, Jackson will not be denied the right to dish her desires, and to her credit, she does embrace change to some degree on Discipline. She recorded the album without longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, in favor of a few of-the-moment hitmakers (Ne-Yo, the-Dream, Stargate). Now, if only new subject matter could complement the new production values, because Jackson sounds part nympho, part aging diva trying to keep up with her would-be replacements. It works on some songs ("Feedback"), but fails miserably on most. On the S&M-themed title track, she sings, "I misbehaved / And my punishment should fit my crime / Tie me to something / Take off all my clothes / Daddy, I want you to take your time." While Jackson may have succeeded in again pushing the sexual envelope, on Discipline she doesn't even dent the creative one.

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Arceneaux, Michael