Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Won the War: Madonna V.S. Janet Jackson

This is a series inspired by a tweet from perpetual lightning rod for controversy Azealia Banks when she inferred that although Michael Jackson won the battle, Prince won the war. This will be my take on which two rivals in packaging in the U.S. Music Industry, won the war in terms of longer success.

Round 5 of this series pits two of the most revered women in the music industry; pop singer/Razzie winning actress Madonna and pop singer/decent at best actress Janet Jackson. Both emerged from the 80s to become humongous stars through to the 00s. However, both weren't exactly infallible in their careers. Yet there's the pressing question that will be answered...

In longevity terms, who merely won the battle...and who Won the War?

As of 2014, Madonna has 12 albums to her name; her most recent being the 2012 effort MDNA. Janet Jackson has 10 albums to her name; her most recent being the 2008 effort Discipline.
Here's their charting album peaks from highest to lowest...

- Like a Virgin at #1
- True Blue at #1
- Like a Prayer at #1
- Music at #1
- American Life at #1 [amazingly -_-]
- Confessions on a Dance Floor at #1
- Hard Candy at #1
- MDNA at #1
- Erotica at #2
- Ray of Light at #2
- Bedtime Stories at #3
- Madonna at #8

Janet Jackson
- Control at #1
- Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 at #1
- janet. at #1
- The Velvet Rope at #1
- All for You at #1
- Discipline at #1
- Damita Jo at #2
- 20 Y.O. at #2
- Janet Jackson at #63
- Dream Street at #147

Due to the fact that these two have made something of a name for themselves, radio has played their songs every now and again. In terms of longevity when was their last #1 hit on the Hot 100?

*Reminder: Hot 100 ranking does matter if you're absolutely looking for a gauge of where an artist is in terms of popularity*

Madonna's last #1 was "Music" in 2000. 14 going on 15 years ago and 4 albums ago? That's a bit pathetic. Janet's last #1 hit was "All for You" in 2001. 13 going on 14 years ago and 3 albums ago? Not much better, but yeesh...

The last Top 10 hit? Madonna's last Top 10 was "Give Me All Your Luvin'" which peaked at #10. 2 years and from her most recent album? Not totally bad. Janet's last Top 10 hit was "Someone to Call My Lover" which peaked at #3 [I went lenient here; Top 10 mostly refers to 6-10. However, Janet's last 6-10 was the #8 peaking "You Want This" ft. MC Lyte in 1994. I decided to include the Top 5 {sans 1} mainly because it is 2-10.]

Singing isn't the only thing these two have done; as has been weirdly declared "culturally kosher" both have attempted to act in movies. As tradition, both of their movies were read for filth. Here's the Rotten Tomatoes scores of their highest scoring movies as of August 26th, 2014 (Believe it or not there is such a thing as a high scoring Madonna movie)...

Madonna's highest Rotten Tomatoes movie, Desperately Seeking Susan
Tomatometer [critics]: 87% at an average of 6.7 out of 10 rating
Audience: 63% at an average of 2.8 out of 5 rating

Janet's highest Rotten Tomatoes movie, Why Did I Get Married?
Tomatometer [critics]: 45% at an average of 5.5 out of 10 rating
Audience: 78 % at an average of 4.1 out of 5 rating

Musically, there are naturally some weak points in an artists' career when say...a lead single doesn't go to #1 or released singles chart really low. These are the positions at the lowest of Madonna and Janet's careers...

Madonna's Lowest Charting Singles
- Lowest Charting Lead Single: "American Life" at #37 on the Hot 100
- Lowest Charting Released Single: "Nothing Really Matters" at #93 on the Hot 100

Janet Jackson's Lowest Charting Singles
- Lowest Charting Lead Single: "Just a Little While" at #45 on the Hot 100
- Lowest Charting Released Single: "So Excited" at #90 on the Hot 100

Their nadirs of lead singles are something of an eerie coincidence; both happened in the early to mid 00s after an acclaimed previous project spawned their last #1 hits. Madonna's last #1 was the title track to her acclaimed 8th album Music. The lead single nadir came from her deservedly maligned 9th album and its title track American Life. Janet's last #1 was the title track from her album All for You. The nadir came from her album Damita Jo.
Even more coincidental was that album wise, this was a period that both artists suffered from tepid to negative reviews for their efforts. Via Metacritic, American Life stands as Madge's lowest scored effort [keep in mind Metacritic began in 1999.] Damita Jo might be Janet's second lowest scoring effort but it did mark the unfortunate trend that her star was fading fast. The following effort, 20 Y.O. went on to become her lowest scoring effort despite peaking at #2 like Damita Jo.

Now for the final points: iconic singles AKA, the one single people know is by that artist.

Madonna has "Vogue" from The Immaculate Collection. This is critic and Louis Virtel level die-hard fandom's determined peak of Madonna's career as "Vogue" combined her savvy trend-spotting and her perceived knack at artistry.

Janet has "Rhythm Nation" from Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814. After Control est. her career, the Rhythm Nation era would ultimately define the rest of her career. Not too shabby considering this is the only effort to spawn 7 Top 5 singles ever.

For posterity, these are pop stars who until their 3rd albums weren't taken seriously as artists in their own right. Both have been accused of relying on choreography, "sexual liberation" and the occasional image change as opposed to singing talent throughout their careers...

One has had a slew of success in spite of a lack of true singing talent; one has had a slew of success in spite of a lack of true singing talent and having to shake off the image of her brother; one has been on a #1 album streak since 2000; one has had 8 Top 2 albums [6 #1s and 2 #2s]...


  1. I won't argue with this assertion too much..i of course prefer Janet. That said when looking back on the videos of each of these women, its Janet's work that is more striking and its her music that has been of consequence and more socially conscious. Do the child or baby test, when I have been watching videos like Pleasure Principle or Rhythm Nation my nephews and nieces stop dead in their tracks and ask me Aunty who is that. I am betting the same can't be said of Madonna. Videos like Like a Prayer do not stand the test of time. Again if you want to say Madonna won the war, go ahead say it. But I believe it is Janet's work that transcends and lives on. It also must be said that race plays a major factor...MJ vs Prince is not akin to Janet vs Madonna.

    1. I appreciate the opinion. If you're talking about Madonna videos that don't stand the test of time, think "American Life" and "4 Minutes". Those videos are horribly dated in concept and shoddy in execution.

      "Like a Prayer" was edgy at the time due to a black man playing Jesus and Madonna dancing in front of burning crosses. Today, that video would be relegated to a midnight showing on MTV or VH1 for one week.

  2. Janet Jackson her sex is beyond better then mabels but Janet got landmark songs that can't be touch like Rhythm Nation, Pleasure Principal, Escapade, All For You etc