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Where Do Veteran Pop Stars Go? (To the Lower Regions of the Hot 100... If T

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Where Do Veteran Pop Stars Go? (To the Lower Regions of the Hot 100... If They're Lucky)

 

Calling it a comeback was tempting: Almost three years after her most recent album, 2015's Unbreakable, Janet Jackson released a joyous new single and colorful new video. “Made for Now” arrived earlier this month with a slew of promo, marking a complete turnaround from the press-shunning of Jackson’s Unbreakable era—an album that at times expressed outright disdain for the media. Jackson sat down for a bunch of radio interviews and debuted the song live on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. With its breezy vibe (“island, African feel,” as she described it on Sirius) and guest spot from Daddy Yankee, who helped make last year’s “Despacito” one of the biggest singles of all time, “Made for Now” seemed tailored for success.

This is all on top of the wave of goodwill Jackson has been riding this year—the announcement of Justin Timberlake’s headlining performance at this year’s Super Bowl caused a widespread reexamination of Jackson’s career-upending own headlining Super Bowl gig in 2004 and the ensuing fallout known as “Nipplegate.” Twitter users christened the day of this year’s Super Bowl, February 4, 2018, #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay. Jackson has played well-received gigs at this year’s Essence and Panorama festivals and launched a new leg of her State of the World Tour in July (grosses for this leg were not included in Billboard’s weekly Boxscore tallies this summer, but last year, the tour grossed over $27 million).

“Made for Now” has debuted at No. 88 on the latest Billboard Hot 100 chart. There are a few ways to look at this, but only the most charitable interpretations would label it any sort of success. Yes, it’s her 41st entry on that chart, which brings her run up to an astonishing 36 years. She can still, at least, command millions of eyes and ears—Billboard reports that “Now” racked up 3.7 million streams in the U.S. (its global total on YouTube is at 25 million at the time of publication).

But how many millions more? Given the push behind “Made for Now,” it’s unlikely to rise much higher than its current number (unless it somehow catches on via a remix or ad placement, which is possible since the song sounds like a socially conscious soda jingle). It may very well be one in a long line of post-peak Janet Jackson singles to come and go rather quickly.

Watching superstars-turned-legends cope with diminishing returns of their releases is fascinating. In the age of social media, attention is more quantified than ever, so audience-retention anxiety has become increasingly relatable. But it must be particularly difficult, confusing even, when at least part of your public identity is derived from your extreme popularity, and then that popularity dries up before your—and everyone’s—eyes. Katy Perry said the flop of her 2017 album Witness caused “situational depression.” Kanye West talked openly to the New York Times about the stress of no longer being able to call himself the No. 1 rapper. “And it’s like yo, no more No. 1s,” he explained. “What’s the No. 1 tree over there? Just be one of them. All of them are beautiful. If you cut one of those trees down, what would it be worth? Those look like $400,000 trees, just one of them, and look at how many of them are.”

Some blame their record companies—Mariah Carey did in a 2015 interview with the L.A. Times, reflecting on the commercial disappointments of her Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel and Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteusealbums. “They didn’t do what they should have done with it,” she said, referring to Island Def Jam. “It’s like you put everything into something and you put it into someone else’s hands and you can’t help it. It’s upsetting.”

Christina Aguilera, whose Liberation had one of the most precipitous drops on the Billboard 200 (from No. 6 in its first week to No. 98) as any high-profile release in recent memory and who failed to place any singles on the Hot 100 from the project, disavowed having any investment in charts at all at this point:

Carey said last year that she was no longer interested in recording albums, that cutting singles was “more fun” (her latest, “I Don’t” peaked at No. 89 on the Hot 100). She has since reneged and announced a forthcoming new album. Jackson, according to her ex/collaborator Jermaine Dupri, felt similarly after a string of commercially inert albums (2004's Damita Jo, 2006's 20 Y.O., and 2008's Discipline). “Last time I heard she really didn’t want to do an album,” Dupri told Vibe in 2010. “She wanted to just do singles every once in a while. She’s looked at the marketplace—albums are not really doing what they usually do when you put all this budget out there. Janet is just trying to figure out her landscape.”

It certainly is a different world out there, one less welcoming than ever to artists of a certain age, one that shows demonstrable signs of homogenizationyet is at the mercy of viral whims. “Made for Now” is something of a surprise precisely because it shows signs of an attempt at hit-making—the greatest feat of Jackson’s 2015 Unbreakable album was how unbothered by trends it was overall, how the lyrics emphasized peace and self-acceptance. Maturity did not yield sales—as of April 2016, Unbreakable had sold 253,000 copies in the U.S. (or about three percent of what Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 moved after its 1989 release)—but that seemed almost like part of the point. Unbreakableseemed relaxed about its place in the world, as a solid, honest album from an unimpeachable legend whose latest work has the reach of a respected niche artist. And that’s just what a lot of these superstars of the ‘80s and ‘90s, who retain some fraction of their fervent fanbases, are becoming. It doesn’t look like “Made for Now” will become the hit it almost certainly was crafted to be, but how much does that matter? Jackson has accomplished so much that anything else she does from here on out is just gravy.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Well that's one way of putting it. However, as this article lightly mentions, she's been underperforming for more than 10 years, when some of her peers -Madonna, Mariah- were still getting chart hits. So in this particular case it's more about people not caring.

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Just now, Je5u5 said:

Well that's one way of putting it. However, as this article lightly mentions, she's been underperforming for more than 10 years, when some of her peers -Madonna, Mariah- were still getting chart hits. So in this particular case it's more about people not caring.

Feedback went top 20 in the US, but I don´t remember it doing well...that was her last hit in it was in 2009? 2008?

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This would be a great article but choosing Janet as an example was wrong as she was over by 2002. 

But yes, this is an issue affecting many older artists including M. Her older core fanbase don't stream and don't buy downloads. I don't.

Although I'm streaming into the groove now to get it over 1 million in the UK!

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6 hours ago, jonski43 said:

But yes, this is an issue affecting many older artists including M. Her older core fanbase don't stream and don't buy downloads. I don't.

But why? Nostalgia? Because it’s to easy? I mean it as an honest question. 

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On 8/30/2018 at 5:31 PM, Lolo said:

But why? Nostalgia? Because it’s to easy? I mean it as an honest question. 

I have a cd player in my car. I listen to mp3s on my PC with a variety of playlists which I can load to Google play. and streaming has very little of what I want including remixes and obscure songs.

All it seems to have is album versions of many tracks. Others you have to subscribe to be able to hear. 

It's all too much hassle.

 

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I read somehwere that after 33 years old people usually start not needing to discover new music.not my case

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Really, can you think of any musicians/pop stars who got better with age?  I'm talking 40s and up.  It's especially hard for singers, because most of their voices decline with age as well, even if they were singing great songs.

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17 minutes ago, rocknrolla said:

Really, can you think of any musicians/pop stars who got better with age?  I'm talking 40s and up.  It's especially hard for singers, because most of their voices decline with age as well, even if they were singing great songs.

Well Madonna produced one of her best albums at age of 47... But I agree completely. It's a tough industry to age in...

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neil diamond, paul simon,leonard cohen, bowie...their albums were good, and in some cases better, after the 40s

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On 9/1/2018 at 9:30 AM, rocknrolla said:

Really, can you think of any musicians/pop stars who got better with age?  I'm talking 40s and up.  It's especially hard for singers, because most of their voices decline with age as well, even if they were singing great songs.

????

You're confusing vocalists with singers with artists. Of course artists can get better with age. 

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But can you think of any musician who made their best album when they were 50 something, as opposed to 20s or 30s?

I'm not confusing them, I'm just saying it is difficult to do your best work if your voice is in decline. 

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5 hours ago, rocknrolla said:

But can you think of any musician who made their best album when they were 50 something, as opposed to 20s or 30s?

I'm not confusing them, I'm just saying it is difficult to do your best work if your voice is in decline. 

 

On 9/1/2018 at 10:05 AM, promise to try said:

neil diamond, paul simon,leonard cohen, bowie...their albums were good, and in some cases better, after the 40s

 

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Just thinking, I liked U2s albums in the 2000s better than their earlier ones.  Fifty seems to be the age for me where I lose interest in artists.  Even from artists I really liked, like U2, Tom Petty, Garbage, etc.  With Madonna even, I don't feel Hard Candy, Rebel Heart, or MDNA are essential to her catalogue.

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On 9/13/2018 at 4:02 PM, rocknrolla said:

Just thinking, I liked U2s albums in the 2000s better than their earlier ones.  Fifty seems to be the age for me where I lose interest in artists.  Even from artists I really liked, like U2, Tom Petty, Garbage, etc.  With Madonna even, I don't feel Hard Candy, Rebel Heart, or MDNA are essential to her catalogue.

You're not essential to her catalogue. Go have a seat. 

 

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Oh and this pro-Janet, pro-Mariah article (which does not mention Madonna not because they think she's doing so well but because they are shady) is null and void for several reasons, most importantly the fact that it's a Jezebel piece. 

 

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It really depends on what type of music you are talking about. Barbra Streisand has recorded many albums that are fan and public favorites post-40. Tina Turner too. Streisand also has maintained a huge diehard fanbase for decades. Very few manage that, and as she is 76, I imagine her fanbase has aged or started to die off. We now live in an incredibly youth-oriented culture, and adults do not want to mature...it used to be just homosexuals that nurtured the Peter Pan syndrome, but now the straights are all over it. 🙄 Even when they have children. It’s abysmal. You see 40 + people dressed the same as 15 year olds, and they listen to the same music. There’s also a lack of reverence for loyalty, we encourage disposability, and what happened two years ago is considered of no interest or value. It’s all gonna explode in everyone’s face at some point. The mental illness from unsatiated and insatiable narcissism will be so toxic we won’t know what to do. But don’t let me rain on anyone’s parade. 

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On 9/17/2018 at 2:03 PM, Suedey said:

Oh and this pro-Janet, pro-Mariah article (which does not mention Madonna not because they think she's doing so well but because they are shady) is null and void for several reasons, most importantly the fact that it's a Jezebel piece. 

 

Madonna seems to get eradicated from a good deal of music articles at the moment when it seems more than obvious she should be referenced. I guess it’s just not her moment, and these other artists that have been considered irrelevant for years seem to be getting re-evaluated. It’s akin to revisionism, but that’s what people do I guess. 

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