Welcome to the latest TGJ Roundtable!
Over the years, That Grape Juice has established a distinguished voice that – whether loved or loathed – sparks discussion, debate, and on occasion drama!
Though comprised of seasoned writers who share a similar outlook on Urban Pop culture, the idiosyncrasies of the TGJ team members often lend for quite heated debates “behind the scenes” about the hottest topics.
Now, we give you a front row seat to the show. In a format similar to ‘The View’ or ‘The Real’, TGJ editors – Sam, David, Rashad, and Joe – get real in a very candid way.
Today’s roundtable topic asks…
Janet Jackson’s ‘No Sleeep’ – Hit or Miss?
The production sounds lush, creamy…top notch. As does Janet. She’s really enunciating this time around, which I’m elated about. Sonically, it’s smart to tread such Adult Contemporary waters as her reintroduction, because sadly modern radio seems to have an aversion to playing older artists – especially those making a calculated attempts at courting young audience with an obvious Pop hit (see: Madonna). With this, Janet has garnered critical praise and will likely attract older audiences as well as the “cool” kids in the process (see: fans of Drake, The Weeknd, Jhene Aiko). Maybe a bit premature, but I really envisage nominations in the R&B categories at the Grammy’s next year (the show is just as much about the buzz these days as it the music…Janet has both presently).
While she has her own label, I really feel we shouldn’t deceive ourselves about the fact that there is a commercial expectation for the project to deliver – whether that be the tour, the album, a single or all of the above. Whether on a major imprint or going it alone, a successful “angle” must be established. So coming off a so-so era in ‘Discipline’ (an underrated album IMO), this project really has to make noise. As such, I would have loved to see her do that quite literally with an uptempo lead single (which in turn promotes the tour and upcoming album). I’ve seen a lot of shade being thrown at “generic EDM” singles, yet Janet is one of the few acts able to do uptempo on her own terms. Though arguably focussed on a narrow topic, I’d argue that ‘Feedback’, ‘So Excited’, and ‘All Night’ have all stood the test of time and boast an epic-ness that screams “I’m BACK”. My initial hope was to have a song with that feel but with a more universal subject matter.
There’s been a lot of talk about ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’ and ‘Got Til It’s Gone’ being slower tempo lead singles from previous projects. But it’s important to remember those dropped in a very different climate. After being unfairly written off by so many, Janet has immense buzz at the moment – a movement that may be difficult to re-create if a single doesn’t catch on as intended.
But hey, she’s doing her and I respect that more than anything. Still so excited about the era and the song’s roll-out overall. I feel like with a killer video with A LOT of choreography she could convert me (fully) with this single. Ciara’s ‘Body Party’ didn’t sound like the most choreography heavy song and yet she smashed the video and made me a believer.
I’m also open to the idea of the song being rolled out as a double A side with a more uptempo partner in rhyme.
After watching ageism block Madonna’s chances of success with her latest singles, it feels Janet has taken a leaf out of Toni Braxton’s book with her new single ‘No Sleeep.’
Why Toni ? Well, like Toni & Babyface’s ‘Love, Marriage & Divorce,’ Janet has made no effort to pander to a system which is uninterested in supporting her contemporaries. What she’s done instead? Deliver a song that will find a very happy and supportive home on Rhythmic and Adult Contemporary formats.
With ‘Marriage’ standing tall as one of 2014’s highest-selling R&B albums (with a Grammy win its name too), I feel Janet’s ‘Conversations’ can expect to enjoy similar success if she pushes her new material to an older, wiser and wealthier audiences. Commercially, it could work to her favour too, as R&B makes a slow, steady, yet notable return to the upper echelon of the Billboard charts.
Thinking beyond ‘Sleeep,’ peddling her comeback to a more seasoned audience, will likely yield bountiful rewards for Janet’s LP, as said group are far more inclined to buy albums and tour tickets than 1 dollar singles. Viewed this way, the campaign’s greatest success could easily lay with its full-bodied release.
Janet Jackson’s ’No Sleeep’ is inaptly titled, because from where I’m standing it’s a snoozefest.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, but to say I was surprised is not.
In my mind, I expected her to borrow elements from ‘The Velvet Rope,’ but I was hoping she would not do such so directly because ’No Sleeep’ sounds like it was cut and pasted from ‘Velvet’s cutting room floor. So, with that stated, she had the right idea, however I wish she had taken a more updated approach (i.e. Ciara’s ‘Body Party)’ and given us Old Skool with a 2015 appeal.
All in all, the track isn’t bad. But it is a bad “comeback single” for an artist who unfortunately has so much to prove and is threatened with limited radio play given her age. Let’s hope, if she’s going to take the “real R&B“ approach, that she gives us something more ala ‘I Get So Lonely,’ ‘Anytime Anyplace,’ or even ‘I Want You.’ A sound that will justify her seductive whisper a bit more than a standard mid-tempo groove.
That said, I recognise the grower potential of this song and hope that it’s accompanying music video will see that potential realised.
Miss Jackson is back! As an all-time self-professed “stan”, I couldn’t be more elated about her return to music. It’s long overdue.
If I’m being honest I thought Janet would come straight out the gate with a modern-day ‘Feedback’ to remind the masses why she once had the world in the palm of her hand.
Instead of playing it “obvious”, J and her exciting new team went left and gave us this marvellously mellow groove that is legitimately and essentially a “JANET track” – from the rain/storm sounds in the beginning to the schoolgirl-giggle after the middle-8.
There seems to be an agenda to achieve success by releasing qualitative and heartfelt music without catering to today’s musical trends. If you ask me it is a huge risk to take, especially for an older diva who is making her comeback after a 5+ years chart hiatus. Then again, Janet’s most powerful “moments” happened when she went against the norm: breaking away from her father’s authority with ‘Control,’ tackling social issues at such a young age on ‘Rhythm Nation,’ not being afraid to express her sexuality during the ‘janet.” era or releasing an EDM type of song in the form of ‘Together Again’ as a single in 97.
Could ‘No Sleeep’ be the song that puts Damita Jo back on the top of the charts as well as critics’ lists? Though it seems to be off to a good start digitally, only time will tell.
Still, kudos to JJ for respecting her legacy and realizing that even after all the years and all the changes that have happened in this industry, “Janet doing Janet” will always be enough.
Welcome back, Queen!
Do you agree with our points? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the latest TGJ Roundtable and Janet Jackson’s new single ‘No Sleeep’.