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|Studio album by Janet Jackson|
|Released||March 22, 2004|
|Recorded||May 2003 – February 2004;|
Brandon's Way Recording, DARP Studios, Flyte Tyme Studios, Larrabee Studios East, Murlyn Studios, Platinum Sound Studios, The Record Plant, Sony Music Studios, The Village
|Producer||Dallas Austin, Babyface, BAG & Arnthor, Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Scott Storch, Télépopmusik, Kanye West|
|Janet Jackson chronology|
|Singles from Damita Jo|
|Studio album by Janet Jackson|
|Released||March 22, 2004|
|Recorded||May 2003 – February 2004;|
Brandon's Way Recording, DARP Studios, Flyte Tyme Studios, Larrabee Studios East, Murlyn Studios, Platinum Sound Studios, The Record Plant, Sony Music Studios, The Village
|Producer||Dallas Austin, Babyface, BAG & Arnthor, Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Scott Storch, Télépopmusik, Kanye West|
|Janet Jackson chronology|
|Singles from Damita Jo|
Damita Jo is the eighth studio album by American pop recording artist Janet Jackson. It was released on March 22, 2004, by Virgin Records. The album takes its title from Jackson's middle name. Its music incorporates rock, electro, house, and hip hop styles, in addition to dance-pop and R&B. The album's concept is based on Jackson's alternate personalities; exploring themes of relationships involving intimacy, monogamy, love, and dance. The album's production sessions were derived from a variety of producers, including Dallas Austin, Cathy Dennis, Scott Storch, BAG & Arnthor, Rich Harrison, Télépopmusik, Just Blaze, and Kanye West; in addition to Jackson and main producers Jam & Lewis.
Recorded over a period of eighteen months, the album was the longest Jackson had spent on a project. Jackson sought to find producers who identified with her emotions, and its overall feel was intended as "hard-hitting dance music." Producers declared the album "a really sexy record" which was bold, fun, and positive. Multiple personae portrayed on the record include the obstinate "Damita Jo" and lascivious "Strawberry." Jackson stated they were "another way to express and expose a deeper part of me," comparing her writing process to that of a novelist; inventing characters with independent personalities of their own. Jackson claimed the aforementioned characters "absolutely" live inside of her, stating it "feels wonderful" to release them.
Prior to the album's promotion and completion, Jackson performed a medley of hits at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. The performance ended in Jackson's breast being accidentally exposed by surprise guest Justin Timberlake. Following the controversial incident, media conglomerates involved with the broadcast who received massive fines by the FCC, including Viacom and CBS, and subsidiaries MTV and radio broadcasters Clear Channel Communications and Infinity Broadcasting, enforced a blacklist of Jackson's singles and music videos on many radio formats and music channels worldwide, although Timberlake was unaffected. An executive for Viacom confirmed the blacklist, and multiple publications reported of Jackson being "blacklisted by pop radio" and "barred from commercial airtime." An account from the incident's aftermath labeled Jackson "one of the most villified female artists of all time" in the media, stating due to the blacklist, "radio wouldn't play it and MTV wouldn't play her videos," for singles which "would've been out-of-the-park hits at any other point in Jackson's career."
The album received generally favorable reviews from critics, who complimented Jackson's approach to alternate personalities fused with themes of passion and romance. However, many critics primarily focused on the Super Bowl performance incident and sexual content of the album in reviews, rather than critiquing the music itself. Jackson later stated she was "fascinated" by these interpretations of her work, expressing concern for society's need to often judge and place others within a specific sexual category.
The album spawned three commercial singles: the rock-fused "Just a Little While", classic pop ballad "I Want You", and funk-driven electropop of "All Nite (Don't Stop)." Despite Jackson's airplay blacklist, "Just a Little While" notably spent five weeks at number one in Japan, and "I Want You" was certified platinum and nominated for a Grammy Award. "All Nite (Don't Stop)" was considered one of the year's most popular singles within "several different scenes," likening the song's innovation and experimentation with multiple styles for its success.
Damita Jo sold over three million copies worldwide and was certified platinum, also receiving certifications in Europe and Japan. Although its sales had been considered a "disappointment" for Jackson's standards, the album garnered Jackson's second highest-first week sales; also receiving a Grammy Award nomination for "Best Contemporary R&B Album." Jackson was awarded several career accolades throughout the album's promotion, including "Legend Award" at the Radio Music Awards, "Inspiration Award" at the Japanese Video Music Awards, "BPI Sales Award" in Europe, "Favorite Female Artist" at the American Music Awards, and "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the Soul Train Awards, in addition to a nomination for "Best Female" at the Teen Choice Awards.
Due to the blacklisting affecting its overall performance, the album is generally considered underrated by music journalists in retrospect. The Telegraph listed it among "120 Essential Pop Albums" several years later, declaring it a lost "classic." Another anecdote labeled the effort as "criminally underrated", with the denouncement and boycott of Jackson called "one of the saddest things in pop music over the last decade." Several critics have noted Damita Jo to serve as the inspiration for artists using similar concepts of alternate personalities for their album titles and campaigns, including Britney Spears' Britney Jean, Beyoncé's I Am...Sasha Fierce, Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi, and Katy Perry in "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)."
Prior to the release of Damita Jo, Jackson experienced massive commercial success with her seventh album, All for You, which portrayed optimistic and positive themes in contrast to predecessor The Velvet Rope. Lead single "All for You" peaked at number one for seven weeks in the United States, becoming the biggest hit of the year, and also attained dramatic success internationally. The entertainer embarked on the All for You Tour, which garnered over twelve million viewers upon its broadcast on television network HBO. Jackson had also recorded the unreleased theme for the film Chicago. Jackson's personal life became a subject of media attention; in particular her rumored romances with actor Matthew McConaughey, recording artist Justin Timberlake, and producer Jermaine Dupri. Following the release of promotional single "Come on Get Up", Jackson began writing and recording her eighth studio album.
Jackson had considered postponing music for other career plans, but ultimately decided to record a new album. "Janet was itching to get back in the studio." "We talked about a million different possible things to do and finally decided to do a brand-new album," said producer Jimmy Jam. For Damita Jo, Jackson attempted several new styles of music; lyrically exploring her sexuality more explicitly and freely. A central theme of split personalities is incorporated within the lyrical content of several songs. Jackson stated the record was based on different aspects of love and intimacy portrayed through these characters, saying "It shows the different sides of me, the different characters that I feel that I display at different moments in my life" [...] "I am divulging myself a little more on this album, and it's definitely much more intimate. That's another side of myself that people have seen, but not to this level." Comparing the process of producing to directing, Jackson searched for "sensitive people who can technically express what I'm going through emotionally" while seeking new collaborators. Jimmy Jam added; "Her albums are always what she's thinking at the moment." "Her thoughts may change six months from now. Her biggest thing is to be honest with her fans. Whatever stuff she wants to talk about, it's coming from her heart." Dallas Austin offered a similar sentiment; "she always shows what's going on with her life through her records, reveals the phase she's in with her life and brings out that experience."
Alternate identities presented include "Damita Jo", an aggressive persona mentioned during the album's title track and "Sexhibition", and "Strawberry", a lascivious performer who emerges on "Strawberry Bounce." Jackson likened the character's development to that of a novelist, explaining "A songwriter is like a novelist. You invent characters. Because they're born out of your brain, they reflect you. But good characters are independent of you and live lives of their own. I hope Strawberry is a good character. Sexually, she's on fire. She doesn't mince words. She has to have it and doesn't care who knows it." "As a writer, I created her. As a singer, I live through her. As an artist, I find her compelling. She might be crazy, she might even be twisted, but her sexual adventures are exciting. I want her music to reflect that excitement." Speaking about the personae, Jackson said "She's another way to express and expose a deeper part of me." "Damita Jo" is "a lot harsher, and quick to put you in your place. She doesn't sit and ponder about stuff, where I'll go, 'Should I or shouldn't I?' She's tougher than I am. Then there's Strawberry. She's the most sexual of them all, the wildest. There's a song I didn't put on the album that was pretty hard core - it's called 'Ruff,' and she talks about how she likes it"; pausing before saying "she likes it rough." Blender Magazine commented the latter identity represents pleasure, as well as liberation and rebellion from Jackson's lifestyle and strict upbringing; "it's a time when she doesn't need to be the polite, professional Janet, and can turn into raw, unrestrained Strawberry." Jackson did not transition to these identities frequently, saying "It's not an everyday indulgence. Not even every week. But every now and then I like playing around in that mode. I don't take it to an extreme. Nor do I do it dangerously. I call it role playing with a twist." Jackson said the characters "absolutely" live inside of her, exclaiming "it feels wonderful" to release them. The concept of various personae is further explored in album opener "Looking for Love", in which Jackson says every individual is composed of "many people rolled into one"; claiming each is unified by a similar motive of seeking forms of love, companionship, or identity.
Jackson had planned to use the album's title for an alternate project, but decided to use the concept at that time rather than waiting. "I've always wanted to do an album where the music is a complete departure from what people know me for, and I really didn't want anyone to know that it was me singing on the album," said Jackson. "I was initially going to title the album Damita Jo, which is my middle name, and when Dallas and I were sharing our middle names with each other, he said 'that's what you should call the album', and I thought 'you know what, he's right. I shouldn't wait to do that, I should just use that now.'" Jackson added, "Damita Jo is definitely who I am today, in all her schizophrenic personalities." Jackson's middle name initially became the album's title as a form of self-acceptance; saying "My mother made up "Damita." I presumed "Jo" was for Joseph, my father, even though I later learned it wasn't. Because he was emotionally withdrawn, I was never comfortable using it. For years I didn't. Now I love being called Jo. I've come to the point where I'm trying to accept - even embrace - everything that has happened to me. I believe that without acceptance there's no serenity."
For Damita Jo, Jackson worked with hit producers such as Télépopmusik, Dallas Austin, BAG & Arnthor, Kanye West, Scott Storch, and Babyface. The record saw Jackson liberated from recording exclusively with Jam & Lewis; which she had briefly attempted upon recording with Rockwilder and The Neptunes for prior release All for You. Jackson composed and co-produced all of the album's songs with the exception of two; writing with Cathy Dennis, Shelly Poole, INOJ, and then-upcoming artists Sean Garrett and John Legend. The album's early direction focused primarily on house music and electroclash. Planned collaborations with the Basement Jaxx, The DFA, and Richard X were announced, although the latter two did not come to fruition, and Jackson's work with Jaxx did not appear on the album. Jimmy Jam stated, "It's kind of all over the place. We have some kind of up tempo dance house things, we have some funky down tempo things, a couple of real sensual ballads." Jon Platt, then-vice president of Virgin Records, commented about the album's latter recording phase; "The second half of the album was very easy once me and Janet got to know each other, and found the songs that really were true to her and that she can sing with conviction." An early report stated Jackson desired the record to be "edgy and experimental." Additional sessions with The Neptunes, Rich Harrison, Guy Chambers, Dre & Vidal, and Channel 7 took place, but were not included on the final release.
The album took eighteen months to complete, the longest Jackson had spent recording an album. In comparison, Jackson's breakthrough Control took two and a half months to finalize, while she spent three recording Rhythm Nation 1814. Its initial stages of "hard-hitting dance music" were inspired by Zero 7 and Télépopmusik, who later produced the album's interludes. "It's all over the place, from songs that I would call classic Janet songs, meaning that they could've been on any of her [earlier] albums. Some of the songs have a definite sort of ambient quality to them. We've been listening to a lot of everything from Zero 7 to Télépopmusik, [so] there's a little bit of that", said producer Jimmy Jam. Alluding to previous singles such as "Throb" and "Together Again", Jam said "There's some house stuff, which there always is [on her albums]", adding "There is going to be some more guitar-flavored things" [...] "happy up-tempo songs, the very funky tunes, the very sensual, sexy ballads." The first two songs recorded for the album were said to be in the vein of Jackson's hit "That's the Way Love Goes." "It's sensual, mid-tempo, and it has a little bit of a jazzy vibe," Jam stated; suggesting other songs would go in another direction. Producer Dallas Austin considered the album "easily the most sexy thing she's done." "To me, this is her Dirty Mind," Austin explained. "It's a really sexy record, but not in a sensual way. It's bold, it's fun, it's really positive. Nobody's sad, nobody's mad. It's just really fun songs where she happens to be talking frankly about sex." The sensual direction originated from the aura Jackson had exuded to Austin while recording. "Guys won't know what to do with themselves after this," said Austin, laughing at the prospect. "It's one of the best records she's made." Then-newcomer Kanye West exclaimed his sessions with Jackson were "unbelievable," having previously expressed desire to collaborate. Songwriter Sean Garrett described being "starstruck" during Jackson's collaboration, calling the session an "essential" part of his early career. "I thought working with Janet would change my life and it definitely did. [...] She was one of those people that I really wanted to work with."
Jackson appears topless on the album's cover; visually representing the intimate and sensual content found within the album. Jackson's representative commented "She just wanted a simple and youthful picture that she felt people would like. It's beautiful, soft. So far, fans love it", adding "web sites have been going crazy." The album is Jackson's second to bear a Parental Advisory label; the first being All for You. The clean version is heavily censored, removing all explicit and sexual content; also omitting two songs entirely ("Warmth" and "Moist"). Censoring is most notable in the songs "Sexhibition", retitled "Exhibition", "All Nite (Don't Stop)", in which several lines have been removed, and "Like You Don't Love Me", where most of the chorus was omitted.
Several collaborations were considered during the album's recording sessions, including duets with Pink and Gwen Stefani, who summoned Jackson's main producers Jam & Lewis for Love.Angel.Music.Baby during the same period Damita Jo was recorded. Following the album's release, Jackson and Beyoncé planned to record a duet for the soundtrack of the film Shark Tale. The song was to be produced by Jam & Lewis, who had recently worked with Beyoncé for The Fighting Temptations soundtrack, commenting, "Obviously we'd love to have the involvement of Janet and Beyonce." "They've already expressed interest." A report of Beyoncé wanting to use Jackson's vocals for Destiny's Child's fourth studio album Destiny Fulfilled later surfaced. Prior to Jackson's Super Bowl performance incident, Jackson and Justin Timberlake discussed potentially recording a duet for the album, as well as a rumored collaboration for a Quincy Jones album, though neither came to fruition. A sequel to prior duet "Scream" with Michael Jackson titled "We've Had Enough" was reported to be recorded for Michael's forthcoming studio album shortly after the album's release, produced by Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins. Jackson was approached to record a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" with English boy band Blue, but the collaboration could not proceed due to scheduling conflicts. A re-release of the album intended to include six new tracks was reportedly planned. During a radio interview, entertainment producer Jonathan Murray was rumored to confirm additional details, saying a collaboration with Usher was initially planned after Jackson had met with him in London. Murray was also rumored to reveal some of the new tracks would be produced by Jermaine Dupri in addition to Lil Jon, who had confirmed recently working with Jackson on entertainment channel E! in July. The re-release was apparently scheduled for the fourth quarter of the year, however, the concept was seemingly canceled and plans were withdrawn.
Jackson worked with several producers not included on the album, including the Basement Jaxx, The Neptunes, Rich Harrison, Just Blaze, Channel 7, Guy Chambers, Dre & Vidal, Makeba Riddick, Nisan Stewart, and Missy Elliott; as well as rumored sessions with Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins. Additional songs with Dallas Austin, Télépopmusik, and Jam & Lewis were also not used. Sessions with The DFA, Richard X, Daniel Bedingfield, Mario Winans, and Diddy were planned but did not take place. Several of the unused songs have since leaked onto the internet. Two songs produced by Rich Harrison titled "Pops Up!" and "Speed it Up (Put it On Me)" were leaked, later being released on promotional vinyls with "Love Me", a newly recorded urban remix of "Just a Little While" produced by Just Blaze. Other outtakes include ballad "Could this Be Love", which appeared on rare initial album pressings following "Like You Don't Love Me" and was later used in the production of Usher's "Truth Hurts", and the uptempo "Ruff", produced by The Neptunes. Jackson considered including "Ruff" on her tenth studio album Discipline. Two other demos produced with Harrison titled "Clap Your Hands" and "What Can I Say" also leaked. In December 2013, several demos of the album's productions with BAG & Arnthor were released via Tumblr; including a demo of "SloLove" with an unused acoustic bridge and ending, extended version of "SloLove" with an instrumental breakdown and acoustic midsection, and early demos of "All Nite (Don't Stop)" and "Put Your Hands On" with slightly altered production.
Three unused songs produced with Dallas Austin are titled "Lucky Again", "Let it Go", and "If You Want Me To." Another unused song titled "Almond Joy" was co-written with Nisan Stewart and likely produced with Missy Elliott. Jam also revealed Jackson considered writing a song about the Super Bowl incident to express her concerns.
The album's lyrical content is divided between themes of love and romance; also discussing topics of lust and monogamous intimacy. An underlying theme of alternate personalities is subsequently explored, with Jackson's substitute personae "Damita Jo" and "Strawberry" appearing on several songs. Jackson explained the album shows several sides of her personality, as well as a "more private side"; saying "The album is about love," "Damita Jo is one of the characters that lives inside of me." A producer stated Jackson had done "a lot of the writing and co-production," conceptualizing "a balance of a lot of different sides of Janet's personality." After Jackson's controversial Super Bowl performance incident, Jackson was urged to remove or tone down the suggestive lyrics of several songs, but resisted pressure to do so. "A lot of people had concerns and wanted me to take certain songs off the album, but I refused, because in doing so I wouldn't be who I am," said Jackson. "I'm not going to change, and that's fine. Either they like it, or they don't." Upon questioning, Jackson replied "There's more of that than ever before in my life at this moment." Spliced between several songs are "mystifying" interludes consisting of brief autobiographical soliloquies regarding relaxation, astrology, and Karma; in which Jackson attempts to intimately communicate her inner thoughts with the listener.
Jackson portrays alternate persona "Strawberry" over chimes, claps, synthesizers, and "hip-pop" instrumentation.
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The album's opening monologue, "Looking for Love", serves as a prelude to the album's content of romance and passion. Jackson deciphers society's unification within the desire for affection in a breathy tone over a spatial and "dreamy" electronic backing: "So many different characters live within us -- all looking for love." The florid discourse was considered "quasi spiritual" and "deeply sensual." The second song, "Damita Jo", is composed of hip-hop and brittle funk. The instrumentation includes bells, cat calls, and rap inflected scratches, with "shyly sexual" vocals. Thematically, Jackson focuses on being misunderstood in the media, in "Do you think that I'm that person you watch on T.V.?", and the concept of a hidden personality. The song's "tricked-out" lyrics feature Jackson reflecting her different moods, in "sexy, quiet, shy, but down for a good time", and describe her alter persona, in "Miss Jackson don't, but Damita sure would." "Sexhibition" is an electro-funk song composed of "cleverly crafted" verbal puns, delivered with "saucy assertiveness." The song opens with rattling tablas and stuttering guitars. In the lyrics, Jackson again sings from the point of view of "Damita Jo", in "intermittent vocal bubbles" to discuss the pleasures she intends to provide. Jackson states "Relax, it's just sex", at the song's closing. The fourth track, "Strawberry Bounce", depicts Jackson method acting a sensual display as alter ego "Strawberry." Characterizing herself as a one-woman gentleman's club, Jackson asks her partner to "Let me be your playground." The song morphs a sample of Jay-Z's vocals into its instrumentation of chimes, snapping rhythms, and synthesizers. Fusing new-school hip-hop with pop, Jackson sings "watch the way I pump it, the way it works is gonna keep you comin'", in a feverish pant. Jackson's looped chorus hook, and the song's "tasty" beat, were described to compose an "insanely catchy number", which merits repeats and "begs to be remixed, flipped, and stripped." "My Baby" is a mid-tempo love song depicting a sonic valentine to Jackson's fiancé. The song features gentle acoustic guitars and shuffling percussion, and guest vocals from Kanye West, over "breezy" and "laidback" production. Jackson delivers the chorus in a reassuring manner; described as a "sotto voce purr". "The Islands" is a spoken-word segment in which Jackson confesses her admiration for the island of Anguilla, the beach, and tropical humidity. The interlude segues into "Spending time With You", a contemporary "slow jam." Lyrically, the song captures Jackson in a moment of love. Jackson speaks about evenings relaxing in prior said location in brief interlude, "Magic Hour", which transitions to "Island Life." In "Island Life", described as "pure seduction", Jackson refers to herself and a companion in an exotic paradise in a lilting vocal: "Island in the sun, just you and I will go/Ride into the wave like echo." Its instrumentation contains throbbing bass and light concoctions of Caribbean-influenced music and ragga pop.
"All Nite (Don't Stop)", the album's third single, contains elements of electropop and funk; incorporated with varied-instrumentation, including samba, grime, and latin percussion. The song talks about enjoying leisure time dancing at a club through lyrical metaphors: "Shake it 'til you're shaking the floor/Pop it like you're popping a cork/Don't stop, don't stop." The "ultra-sexy" song was, according to a review, primed to "fill dancefloors around the globe with its sultry groove and shocking lyrics."
Elements of deep house and dance pop are heard in "SloLove."
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"I Want You" is a classic pop ballad influenced by Motown music of the nineteen-fifties and seventies. The song's instrumentation includes a chime-studded texture, violins, heavy drums, and a girl-group arrangement over production described as an "electronic reconstruction." The "retro" song was likened to the music of Karen Carpenter, and has a "swooning charm." Eleventh track "R&B Junkie" has a "retro" feel consisting of eighties funk, dance pop, and upbeat synths. It transforms a brief sample from Evelyn King into a new composition, considered a likely candidate for a summer club hit. The song's positive vibe was described as a sonic "ambrosia." "Like You Don't Love Me" blends guitars and heavy bass with youthful vocals and a repeated chorus littered throughout. The lyrics talk about feeling neglected sexually, with Jackson encouraging her partner to role play as if they were not in a monogomous relationship: "You need to make love to me/Like you don't love me [...] Do me like you wanna do them other girls." The song ends with a spoken reprise of the album's title track's chorus. The ballad "Thinkin' 'Bout My Ex" continues the album's transition into a distinctly slower tempo. Backed by acoustic guitars, Jackson displays humanity in the song's topic of longing for a former companion while in a new relationship. Jackson apologizes to her current partner: "When I'm holding you late at night/I'm thinkin' about my ex [...] And I know sorry doesn't mend your broken heart." The song's theme was considered "heartening" and a "crucial" culpability. "Warmth" is described as an "aural journey" in which Jackson performs oral sex on her partner while in a moving vehicle. Jackson again displays method acting; providing descriptive details of the event over swirling ambient guitars. Whispers and moans are heard, as Jackson compliments her companion, and performs with authority over the track's minimal "bass thump": "Just like the water from the shore/Let your rain pour [...] But nothing can compare to the warmth of my mouth." Jackson sings over the light sound of rain and thunder, representing climax and ecstasy. Jackson later clarified "There was something in my mouth" as it was recorded. Grouped together in an "oral suite", the erotic tone continues on "Moist"; in which Jackson is on the receiving end of pleasure. The theme of "uncontrived" lust and soft vocals were compared to prior hit "Any Time, Any Place." Brief interlude "It All Comes Down to Love" sees Jackson describing love as truthful, honest, undeniable, sincere, and unforgettable. "Truly" is a love song with a stripped down and quiet production, backed by light guitars and strings. Jackson's vocal delivery was described as "beautiful." Interlude "The One" accompanies Jackson's final monologue of romance with flourishes of electronic music. "SloLove" is a deep house-influenced dance song with elements of jazz. Jackson talks about experiencing an intimate moment over a long period of time. In interlude "Country", Jackson speaks about her various nicknames and origin of her middle name while a country guitar twang is played.
The album's final track is lead single "Just a Little While", which opens with funk guitars and transitions into uptempo pop-rock. Jackson blends carnal and "dirty" intentions with innocent desires, and longs to be intimate with her partner again: "Can't stop thinking about the things we do/And how it feels making love to you [..] You know I'll take it anywhere/That you wanna go right now/Just love me for a little while." The song has been described as "push-button rock & roll" and the album's "most interesting, and energetic moment", although its placement as the last track was considered "odd." In international bonus "Put Your Hands On", Jackson sings of aligning with her lover's energy over a midtempo house beat. In "I'm Here", Jackson convinces a companion she'll never abandon them and stops them from expressing negative thoughts: " I don't wanna hear you say/Your wall stands tall of stone/Because love harassed you with pain/You feel you'll grow old alone [...] Someone wanting to love you deeply/Won't you let me?"
For additional information, see commercial blacklist.
Jackson released promotional single "Janet Megamix 04" shortly prior to the album's release. Three commercial singles were released from Damita Jo; although each were affected by the airplay and music channel blacklist following Jackson's controversial Super Bowl incident. "Just a Little While" was released as the lead single from Damita Jo on February 2, 2004. Jackson rushed to film a music video for the song after a premature leak. "Just a Little While" received highly positive reviews from critics, who felt its elements of rock and dance music would ensure the song success. The song's airplay increased over five-hundred percent on its official release date, also achieving "sizeable" digital downloads. Its airplay suffered when Jackson's blacklist was placed into effect by major radio broadcasters who were fined after Jackson's Super Bowl incident, affecting its overall chart positions worldwide. The song was quickly pulled from radio. "Just a Little While" peaked at number forty-five and within the top twenty in airplay in the United States, making it her first solo and lowest peaking lead single since "Come Give Your Love to Me" over twenty years prior. The song peaked atop the Hot Dance Club Play chart. Internationally, it held the top position for five weeks in Japan; reaching number two in Belgium, three in Canada, and six in Spain; charting within the top ten in Hungary, and top twenty in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Italy. The song's music video was released in select international territories unaffected by the blacklist. The video, directed by Dave Meyers, features Jackson filming a DVD for her boyfriend in a futuristic apartment setting. The "UK Radio Edit" of the song uses an altered instrumental, replacing guitars with synths and electronic beats. A newly recorded urban remix titled "Love Me" was produced by Just Blaze, initially planned for selected radio formats; but was withdrawn upon the radio boycott.
Upon the album's release, music executives had shown interest in several songs as potential singles, including "Sexhibition", "Island Life", "Thinkin' 'Bout My Ex", and "My Baby", which Jackson said was "a nice problem to have." Jackson had considered releasing "All Nite (Don't Stop)", "My Baby", or "R&B Junkie" as the album's lead before selecting "Just a Little While." "I Want You" was released as the album's second single on April 5, 2004. The blacklist following Jackson's Super Bowl incident persisted to affect the single's performance; with the song peaking at number fifty-seven in the United States, and the top twenty of the Hot R&B Songs chart. "I Want You" reached the top twenty of the United Kingdom, but was released as a double single with "All Nite (Don't Stop)" in most international markets, therefore making it ineligible to chart. The song achieved modest success; being certified platinum for selling a million copies, also receiving a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Its music videos was directed by Dave Meyers and depicts Jackson traveling through Los Angeles. "All Nite (Don't Stop)" was issued as the album's third single on May 29, 2004. The song received favorable reviews; with praise placed upon its innovation and fusion of various musical styles. In a similar fashion to the album's prior singles, its airplay was affected by Jackson's blacklist. It charted on the Pop Songs chart at number thirty-three in July 2004, also charting within twelve other territories due to high single sales, notably reaching the top twenty in the United Kingdom, and top twenty-five in Australia, Belgium, and Romania. "All Nite (Don't Stop)" reached number one the Hot Dance Club Play chart, securing another dance hit for Jackson. The song was later titled "one of the biggest records this year in several different scenes" despite the airplay boycott due to its popularity. In March 2008, following the success of "Feedback", the song re-entered the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart at number forty, giving it a new peak. A music video directed by Francis Lawrence was filmed in the Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. A separate music video for the song's remix featuring Elephant Man was initially planned. British publication Music Week initially confirmed the fourth single to be "My Baby", a collaboration with Kanye West. On December 30, 2004, promotional single "R&B Junkie" became the album's final release. The song was not regarded as an official single and did not have a music video or promotion. However, it received positive reviews; also reaching number one on the Bubbling Under R&B Singles chart. In April 2004, the album's title track and "My Baby" charted on the Bubbling Under chart without being released for airplay; peaking at number seventeen and nine. Album track "Strawberry Bounce" also charted within the top twenty of Japan's Tokyo FM chart.
Jackson's representative Stephen Huvane stated "Personally, she’s not comfortable with being Janet in public [...] When she’s performing, that’s a different thing. We always planned that when the album came out, we would do the proper promotion.” Producer Jimmy Jam commented, "Between albums she likes to go live life, recharge her batteries and be able to share her experiences. It not only raises her artistic level, she's able to talk about things she's going through -- and other people can relate. That's one of the things that allows her to connect truly with the fans." Prior to the album's promotion, Jackson performed a medley of "All for You", "Rhythm Nation", and "The Knowledge" at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. Surprise guest Justin Timberlake arrived to perform a duet version of "Rock Your Body" with Jackson, which ended in Jackson's breast being accidentally exposed. The incident resulted in the FCC enforcing massive fines on conglomerates involved with the broadcast, including CBS, Viacom, and MTV; who then blacklisted Jackson on many radio formats and music channels worldwide as a result.
In March 2004, Jackson performed lead single "Just a Little While" on various shows; including Top of the Pops, CD:UK, Channel 4, and Les Années Tubes. Throughout the month, Jackson appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and 106 & Park. In Canada, Jackson performed "Just a Little While", "I Want You", and "All Nite (Don't Stop)" on Much on Demand, subsequently performing "All Nite (Don't Stop)" on Canada AM and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Promotional interviews were recorded for Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, and Extra!. Advance album listening sessions were held in New York City and the Netherlands, with release parties held in Los Angeles and the Spice Market in New York City. Upon the album's release, Jackson made an in-store appearance and signing at the HMV music store in Harlem, New York, and VH1 also premiered an episode of Driven; which documented Jackson's career. During the course of the album's promotion, Jackson appeared in numerous publications, which included Harper's Bazaar, Blender, Genre, Glamour, Essence, Upscale, Next, and Vanity Fair. On March 31, 2004, Jackson performed "All Nite (Don't Stop)" and "I Want You" on Good Morning America. The two singles were also performed on On Air with Ryan Seacrest on April 2, 2004. Interviews with radio station Z100 took place shortly after. Jackson performed "All Nite (Don't Stop)" and "Strawberry Bounce" on Saturday Night Live the following week; also participating in several skits, some of which mocked her Super Bowl incident. The episode was later nominated for an Emmy award. The filming of "I Want You" was then aired on Access Granted. On May 14, 2004, Jackson recorded a live performance for MSN, performing "Just a Little While", "All for You", "All Nite (Don't Stop)", and "I Want You". At the annual Wango Tango concert, Jackson performed "All Nite (Don't Stop)" and "All for You." Jackson arrived in Tokyo, Japan on May 19, 2004, and was interviewed by Japanese television shows CX-TV’s "Smap Smap" and ANB-TV’s "SMA-Staion". Following this, Jackson performed a lengthy promotional circuit; interviewed by NHK’s "Weekly Navi TV", ANB-TV’s "Ryu-ha R", Shoji Suzuki, Mezamashi TV, SpaceShower TV, Viewsic, and Channel V; as well as radio stations Tokyo FM, J-Wave's Tokio Hot 100, FM802, Zip FM, and newspapers Yomiuri Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun.
While in Japan, Jackson taped a performance of "Just a Little While" for Hey! Hey! Hey!, and made an unannounced appearance at the Japanese Video Music Awards to perform "All Nite (Don't Stop)." Jackson was awarded the "Inspiration Award" at the ceremony. Following this, Jackson traveled to Australia to continue promotion on television channels Network Ten and Rove Live, radio stations 2DayFM and The Edge FM, and newspaper Herald Sun. Jonathan Ross and several radio stations interviewed Jackson upon her return to the United Kingdom; later performing "All Nite (Don't Stop)", "Just a Little While", and "I Want You" at Italian concert event Festivalbar. Promotion was continued in Germany, where Jackson appeared on TV total, MChart Show, and Anke Late Night. In France, Jackson performed on Tout le monde en parle and Hit Machine on June 3, 2004; before performing on Top of the Pops again the following day. For the album's final international promotion, Jackson performed on the Bercy Anniversary Show in Denmark and Gala Xacobeo in Spain. After returning to the United States, Jackson performed a medley of "All Nite (Don't Stop)" and "R&B Junkie" at the 2004 BET Awards. On June 29, 2004, Jackson made unannounced performances of "All Nite (Don't Stop)" and "Together Again" at New York's Gay Pride March. Jackson appeared at various award shows throughout the campaign; such as the Teen Choice Awards, Japanese Video Music Awards, and Soul Train Awards. However, Jackson was barred from attending the Grammy Awards and MTV Video Music Awards following the Super Bowl incident. Later that year, Jackson released video compilation From janet. to Damita Jo: The Videos.
Jackson had initially confirmed a world tour in support of Damita Jo which would begin in the fourth quarter of the year. Jackson stated "I want to do something different, I have a few ideas and hopefully the fans will embrace it." The first date was planned for September 17, 2004. It was initially postponed due to Jackson focusing on the presidential election occurring within the same time period, commenting "we desperately need a Democrat as president"; as well as blacklisting from major companies regarding fines following Jackson's Super Bowl halftime show incident. After the election period, Jackson was approached to record her next studio album 20 Y.O. and postponed all plans for touring. One of the tour's several opening acts was confirmed to be Mario Winans, known for the hit "I Don't Wanna Know" with Enya.
While not as successful as All for You, Damita Jo was a commercial success, but was considered a sales "disappointment" in the media compared to Jackson's previous efforts. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Damita Jo sold 381,000 copies during its first week of release in the United States, debuting at number two on Billboard 200 (only behind Usher's Confessions). The album received a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) within two months of release, on May 27, 2004. It has sold 1,002,000 copies in the US. The album debuted at number three on the global music chart (only behind Utada Hikaru's Single Collection Vol. 1 and Usher's Confessions). In Canada, the album debuted at number seven with sales of 9,100 units, and at number ten in Japan with 27,510 copies sold. It was certified platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) and gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for sales of 100,000 copies in each country. The album also reached number thirty-two on the UK Albums Chart, and was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on April 2, 2004, denoting shipments in excess of 60,000 copies. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association Singapore (RIAS) in June 2004, and also peaked within the top twenty of Australia.
In total, Damita Jo has sold in excess of three million copies worldwide. Regarding the album's performance, Jackson said "Of course everyone wants to sell records and be number one," she concedes. "And I think that's important. But for a lot of artists today, it's all about the money as opposed to the art. What happened to artists creating this wonderful body of music that touches people and changes their lives?" In response to boycotted promotion, Jackson stated "A lot of people said they didn't even know the project was out, and I think that had a lot to do with the response. Yet a lot of fans in Europe came up to me saying they absolutely felt it was my best album. There were all kinds of reactions to the album, and there was obviously a lot of drama surrounding that album as well." Productions deadlines also caused Jackson to rush, saying "Deadlines are hard for me; I don't like being forced to do things when you know you're not ready; when you're on the right path but you know you haven't gotten to the place you want to be."
Jackson's radio and music channel blacklist from conglomerates Viacom and CBS, and subsidiaries MTV, Clear Channel Communications, and Infinity Broadcasting, massively affected the album's performance. Prior to Jackson's Super Bowl performance incident, music critics had predicted Damita Jo to outsell its predecessor All for You, which had sold nearly eight million copies. Metro Weekly likened the album's performance to Jackson's rival Madonna's chart peaks with American Life the prior year, saying after Madonna released questionable material which resulted in the "biggest flop of her career", "It's doubtful Jackson planned the Super Bowl stunt to be quite the reveal it was. She also didn't count on the backlash, a backlash that has actually caused her the same fate as Madonna: public apathy to her music." Several critics retaliated to reports lambasting the album's performance. Ernest Hardy of LA Weekly observed its first-week sales to be "far stronger than those of recent releases by Madonna, Britney, Whitney or J-Lo." Edna Gundersen of USA Today also said "Jo outpaced recent debuts by Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera," in comparison to her peers. The New York Times commented; "The album is even sleeker and sexier than its predecessor, All for You, and in saner times, that would be enough to ensure its success." Lynn Norment remarked "For Janet Jackson, whose Control (1986) sold more than 10 million units and Rhythm Nation (1989) more than 12 million copies, even a 2 million-seller can be viewed by critics as a bomb."
For additional information, see Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy.
Following Jackson's controversial Super Bowl halftime show performance incident, conglomerates involved with the broadcast were heavily fined by the FCC and subsequently were taken to Supreme Court for several years. In retaliation, the aforementioned conglomerates, which include Viacom and CBS, and subsidiaries including MTV, Viacom's flagship channel and the halftime show's producer, and radio broadcasters Infinity Broadcasting and Clear Channel Communications, enforced a blacklist of Jackson's singles and music videos on many radio formats and music channels worldwide. The boycott was placed into effect prior to the release of Damita Jo, continuing throughout the course of Jackson's following two albums 20 Y.O. and Discipline. Justin Timberlake, who performed with Jackson during the incident, did not receive the same treatment despite being present during the event. A writer for Idolator commented the blacklisting and denouncement of Jackson following the incident was "one of the saddest things in pop music over the last decade".
A senior executive for Viacom stated "[We are] absolutely bailing on the record." "The pressure is so great, they can't align with anything related to Janet. The high-ups are still pissed at her, and this is a punitive measure." In January 2014, Rolling Stone disclosed "CBS and MTV’s parent company Viacom, angered that an unannounced addition to the Super Bowl performance has now cost them all future halftime shows, hits back at Janet by essentially blacklisting her, keeping her music videos off their properties MTV, VH1, and radio stations under their umbrella. The blacklist spreads to include non-Viacom media entities as well", adding "Thanks to the radio and music television blacklist, the LP underperforms compared to Janet’s previous releases [...] Despite the backlash, the album eventually goes platinum several times over." Upon the album's release, Glenn Gamboa of Newsweek also commented regarding the blacklist, stating "Unfortunately, it's not clear whether these songs will get heard," saying after the incident, "Jackson has been put in the pop culture penalty box. The result is that despite some initial backing for "Just a Little While," radio and TV support for her music has withered, as the conglomerates worry about angering the FCC and Congress" in fear of receiving fines for supporting Jackson. The excerpt added ""I Want You," for example, would have been an across-the-board smash pre-Nipplegate."
Lead single "Just a Little While" was the first of Jackson's releases to be affected. The song was released shortly after the incident due to an early leak. Following its official release, it became the most added and played song on pop radio formats, increasing nearly five-hundred percent in airplay and garnering "sizeable" digital downloads. The song received positive reception, however, its performance massively shifted when the blacklist was commenced, and it was quickly removed; virtually disappearing from airplay. As a result, its music video was only released in select international territories. A report uncovered Jackson to be "unfairly blackballed on pop radio stations and blacklisted on video shows," concluding "the "powers that be" are out to ruin her."
The blacklist of Jackson's music and videos drew a considerable amount of attention from critics when providing commentary on the album, released nearly two months after the incident occurred. Prior to the boycott, music critics had predicted the album to outsell All for You, which had sold nearly eight million copies worldwide. Langston Wertz Jr. of The Charlotte Observer commented the incident made Jackson one of the "most villified female artists of all time" in the media, stating due to the blacklist, "radio wouldn't play it and MTV wouldn't play her videos for "I Want You" and "All Nite," two songs that would've been out-of-the-park hits at any other point in Jackson's career." An article in Billboard noted "The three singles it spawned were blacklisted by pop radio—they were also the albums biggest highlights—the electronic guitar studded "Just a Little While," Motown-influenced "I Want You" and the funky, heavily dance orientated "All Nite (Don't Stop)." Allan Raible of ABC News also reflected on the album's success being affected upon the release of Jackson's tenth studio album Discipline, expressing "had the Super Bowl incident not happened, I have a feeling the rock-edged “Just a Little While” and the Kanye West assisted “Strawberry Bounce” would have been enough to make the album more of a success." Additionally, Doug Rule of The Metro Weekly revealed "the best tracks on Damita Jo are likely to be barred from commercial airtime" due to the blacklist, adding "in the case of first single "Just A Little While," never really get past go" as a result.
In addition to being barred from radio airplay, music channels owned by Viacom, including MTV and VH1, also refused to air Jackson's videos, or only aired them in minor rotation following the incident. The album was released shortly prior to the dawn of Youtube, when music videos from major stars required heavy rotation on music outlets, specifically MTV, to receive promotion. In British publication Music Week, Virgin Record's marketing director Elizabeth Nordy stated MTV's lack of support following to the Super Bowl incident had been "a major catalyst" in the album's performance. LA Weekly also commented "the hypocrites at MTV have all but banished her from their airwaves." A report from the Associated Press on Fox News revealed additional details, saying "MTV's "Spanking New" videos in heavy rotation include a gyrating, cleavage-baring Beyoncé [in "Naughty Girl"] and a bleeped-out Eminem with his group D12 ["My Band"]. Yet the sedate new video from Janet Jackson—a fixture on the cable channel for almost two decades and its first "MTV Icon"—has been absent from its playlist. Meanwhile, Jackson's name had barely been mentioned on MTV—unusual for a superstar whose previous projects have typically gotten heavy promotion." Jackson's frequent collaborator Jimmy Jam commented "You can probably read between the lines with MTV." "I would guess that if MTV wanted to play it, they would, but this is just speculation on my part. It certainly could raise a few questions if you have an investigative mind." Jam also questioned an MTV statement claiming the network never received Jackson's videos, saying "It's tough to click with audiences when you don't get support from the major media outlets." "It's interesting because the video was sent to Viacom" — "but somehow MTV didn't [receive it]?" Roger Friedman of Fox News ridiculed the decision; stating "One thing is certain, however: Janet is being scapegoated for her Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction." [...] Imagine that MTV, where illiteracy and lewdness thrive most of the day, would banish Janet's new video because of her "reputation." Who are they trying to kid? Of course, MTV is a corporate cousin of CBS, where the original snafu happened. But that's just a coincidence!" Jackson and the network discussed working together again for a project scheduled for announcement during the first quarter of the next year, but plans were canceled.
Damita Jo was the first of Jackson's albums in the Nielsen SoundScan era to debut at number two and miss reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it made Jackson the first female artist to have six consecutive studio albums debut within the number one or two position on the chart. Due to various blacklisting following Jackson's Super Bowl incident, the album is often considered to not have received proper recognition upon its release. British publication The Telegraph ranked Damita Jo in a list of "120 Essential Pop Albums", commenting the "luscious lost 2004 classic is like dining on a seven-course meal comprised entirely of melted marshmallows"; other publications remarked it to be "criminally underrated." However, the album received multiple accolades; including Grammy Award nominations for "Best Contemporary R&B Album" and "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance", and a rank among the year's "50 Greatest Albums" in Blender.
In particular, certain music critics regarded the Damita Jo era another milestone in Jackson's career for Jackson's longevity and the album's production values, attempted diversity, consistency in lyrical themes, and subsequent influence; also praising the sonic innovation of several songs. Jackson's continued experimentation with multilayered vocal harmonies and concept of alternate personae also were subjects of recognition.
Jesse Washington of The Associated Press commended Jackson's output to remain "consistently good" and "eclipsing Michael's"; praising Jackson's artistry and cultural relevance as equal to peer Madonna's: "For creating pop confections that you can grind to on the dance floor [...] Jackson remains up there with Madonna as one of the best ever. She’s still relevant and compelling 22 years after her first album, and will probably remain so long after her right breast is forgotten." Spence D. of IGN declared; "There's no question that Jackson has the personality, the sensuality, and the voice to keep her at the top of the pop diva hierarchy." A writer for Slant Magazine said the album's publicity "feels more like an event" at its time of release; having the potential to conquer the negative publicity bestowed upon Jackson following her performance incident.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic likened the album to a "low-key make-out record" in the tradition of Jackson's critically acclaimed sixth album The Velvet Rope, praising its "strong rhythmic or melodic hooks." LA Weekly challenged reviews which focused on Jackson's Super Bowl incident and selected lyrics in place of its musicality; declaring it "better than most reviews and word-of-mouth would have you believe," and "at least a minor-chord “F-you” victory to the wolves nipping at Janet’s tits." Bob Smithouser of Plugged In considered the album's "bouncy rhythms, playful vocals and slick production values" to further expand Jackson's fanbase; and ultimately "draw countless teens into her tacky web of nymphomania." A British publication regarded to release to produce "some essential Janet hits," while Tom Moon of The Inquirer stated, "Damita Jo will undoubtedly blaze new trails for artists seeking fame via salacious outlandishness."
Muze declared Jackson "music royalty" and likened the album to continuing her longevity in popular culture. Kalefa Sanneh of The New York Times stated: "Ms. Jackson long ago established herself as one of the greatest and most consistent performers [...] -- she hasn't released a dud album in 20 years," adding Damita Jo "continues that streak." Sanneh concluded "Ms. Jackson has spent the better part of two decades using that whispery voice and that shy smile to keep some small part of herself hidden, even when she seems to be exposing herself. Maybe that's why she can still cause such a fuss. And maybe that's also how she's managed to last so long."
Neil Strauss of Rolling Stone called the album "all things to all pop fans" for the musical diversity displayed in several songs and interludes, ranging from "whiffs of classic Eighties Janet, teeny-bopper pop, a Nelly impression, old-school funk, push-button rock & roll, even a little country & western." Mikael Wood of The City Paper declared the release to potentially be Jackson's "most sonically sumptuous album", considering the majority of the record "an eiderdown explosion of finely finessed sound." Alexis Petridis of The Guardian deemed the album's bulk as "not only inventive, but brilliantly constructed", with nagging hooks and "explosive" choruses. Petridis commended Jackson as an "extremely savvy operator" in assembling an "unimpeachable" production team. Calling pop a "singles genre," Petridis stated "Damita Jo's strike rate is remarkably high," concluding it to be "astonishing" and "triumphant stuff." The LA Times praised the album's balance between familiar "assembly-line product" and innovation in "more inspired commercial pop." Despite several new collaborators, the album was regarded as "ultimately the singer's show", placing Jackson in the forefront of her varied producers. The Inquirer said Jackson and her "high-priced crew" developed several "musical atmospheres as throbbingly alive as her libido." Using the "ethereal yearning" of "All Nite (Don't Stop)", "house-influenced" "SloLove", and "rocker" "Just a Little While" as examples, Moon stated: "When everything clicks" -- "the music has that primal quality that gets people moving before they can even process the message." The diverse production was said to span "decades of pop-music romance" by Blender, ranging from the "Motown sound" to "hip-hop’s latest throwback beats."
The album's vocal production and harmonies received prominent recognition in several anecdotes. Jackson's layered "breathy harmonies", built upon "little countermelodies" and overdubbed "nonverbal asides" not often heard upon initial listens, were considered an inventive and memorable technique; providing the album with a "plush romance." Jackson's approach to "shrouded" vocal harmonies were also thought to produce intimacy and comfort with the listener; which "makes even a relatively raw number like "Sexhibition" feel like a private moment between you and the owner of history's most downloaded breast." LA Weekly called Jackson's multilayered vocals her "calling card and primary weapon", backed by the album's lyrics as metaphorical "bullets." Robert Christgau regarded the "synth-dance" productions to be enhanced by Jackson's "sensual background murmurs." The album's vocals were described as "lovely" and "quite graceful", containing an "unassuming flutter and grit"; ultimately displaying a progression, saying "Jackson has grown into her voice along with the rest of her body."
Some publications criticized the album's several songs containing explicit content; others commended Jackson's continued exploration of the sexuality and intimacy of relationships. Richard Cromelin of The LA Times considered Jackson's advanced pursuit into sensual "pop porn" to be "an air of refreshing defiance", in comparison to "indulgent" and "gratuitous" attempts from other selected musicians. Blender critic Ann Powers favorably considered the album "Artfully structured, unapologetically explicit [...] erotica at its friendliest and most well-balanced." Powers likened the lyrics to melding "common exhibitionism" with "convincing intimacies", in which Jackson "brings bliss back to a subject that too many dirty-mouthed hotties have made tedious through overexposure." The City Paper exalted the album as a "welcome retreat back into the singer's glass-walled boudoir", defending Jackson's choice of lyrical content in comparison to male artists using sex without generating criticism: "the album's songs aren't any more moralistic than those by the frequently philandering male stars who get away with exposing their nipples all the time." However, upon further examination, Wood deciphered the album to be "a set of songs more about love than lust", likened to "a nuzzle on the ear" and familiar comfort. While considering Jackson's voice to be wispy, Cromelin observed Jackson's charisma and vocal inflections to convincingly deliver the underlying theme of "serviceable personas" on the album; ranging from "haughty stripper to a wide-eyed kid who loves long walks on the beach."
Several critics have observed the title and theme of Damita Jo to serve as an inspiration for artists using similar concepts of alternate identities within album campaigns, regarding Jackson as the trendsetter in which singers "declare themselves in possession of multiple personalities." Britney Spears' Britney Jean, Beyoncé's I Am...Sasha Fierce, Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi, and an alter ego used by Katy Perry have been cited to be subsequently influenced by Jackson.
Britney Spears' eighth studio album Britney Jean was noted to be titled with influence from Damita Jo. A report from ABC News Radio stated "taking a page from Janet Jackson's 2004 album, Damita Jo, Britney Spears has combined her first and middle names -- Britney Jean -- to come up with the title for her much-anticipated eighth studio album." Spears stated alternate persona Britney Jean lives inside her, in a similar means to Jackson expressing "Damita Jo is one of the characters that lives inside of me," also appearing topless on the album's cover. Spears' third album Britney had drawn comparisons to the title of Jackson's self-titled janet. album; also compared to Jackson's breakthrough Control for its theme of artistic liberation. Additionally, Logo's TheBacklot considered Spears' "How I Roll", appearing on her seventh album Femme Fatale, to draw influence from the Damita Jo track "Strawberry Bounce". Spears had previously been photographed listening to Damita Jo in April 2008, and included the album's title track in a list of her favorite songs for iTunes the following year, expressing "I love to dance to this song. It has such a good beat to it." Spears played the album's second single, "All Nite (Don't Stop)", for the audience prior to each show on The Circus Starring Britney Spears Tour, and later included it in a list of her favorite songs for X Factor publication X Magazine, in 2010. Upon Katy Perry referencing Jackson's Super Bowl incident in the music video for "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)", Perry's alternate persona used in the clip, known as "Kathy Beth Terry", was likened to Jackson's "Damita Jo."
Several entertainment critics observed Beyoncé's alternate persona "Sasha Fierce", and album title I Am...Sasha Fierce, to be influenced by Damita Jo. The Sydney Morning Herald stated: "When Janet Jackson released the album Damita Jo after the Super Bowl nipple furore, she told us that "Damita Jo is one of the characters that lives inside of me". And now Beyonce wants us to know that this album ( I Am … Sasha Fierce, Sony BMG), divided into two discs of different styles, reflects how: "I have someone else that takes over when it's time for me to work and when I'm on stage, this alter ego that I've created kind of protects me and who I really am." The Courant commented "her musical forebear Janet Jackson is occasionally known as Damita Jo, so why shouldn't Beyonce have an alter-ego, too?". MTV News considered Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi to be titled with inspiration from Damita Jo, citing the album to use a similar concept of a hidden identity. Times of India also regarded Carey's Mimi to follow in the trend initiated by Jackson.
In April 2013, Dannii Minogue praised the album, tweeting "rediscovered album Damita Jo #JanetJackson #SexyTunes." Speaking to Extra!, actor Benjamin McKenzie revealed he owns two copies of Damita Jo. In People Magazine, Christina Aguilera stated "Damita Jo is a good album. I love that album. Janet never stops giving you what you want. She's an artist that will always be regarded as one of the best. Like Madonna, she's reinvented herself a lot and kept a connection with her audience. The whole Superbowl thing ruined her reputation with the media and pretentious prudes, but who cares about them? She's still doing her thing." Actress Lindsay Lohan said she remained fit while filming Mean Girls by dancing to Jackson's Damita Jo album. Lohan had also attended the album's release party. Furthermore, Lil' Kim released a remix of the album's title track.
Various celebrities attended the Damita Jo album release party, including photographer Patrick Demarchelier, actress Lindsay Lohan, music executive L.A. Reid, and musicians Courtney Love, Hoobastank, Isaac Hanson, Patti LaBelle, Ja Rule, Angie Stone, Ice-T, and Brian McKnight. Other attendees included Coco Austin, Al Sharpton, Wendy Williams, Elisabeth Rohm, Matt Serletic, Lennox Lewis, the Z100 staff, Dan Abrams, Lady Bunny, Jai Rodriguez, Betsey Johnson, and Padma Lakshmi, among others. Gift bags for Virgin Records Presents Damita Jo: A Celebration with Janet Jackson included nearly $18,000 in merchandise, consisting of a membership to an exclusive gym and double-sided tape to keep clothing in place, helping to avoid a wardrobe malfunction. Jackson was presented a diamond Damita Jo nameplate necklace by label Virgin Records for the album's release.
|The City Paper||(positive)|
|The New York Times||(positive)|
|The Village Voice||(mixed)|
|Yahoo! Music UK|||
Jesse Washington of The Associated Press commended Damita Jo as "sinfully appealing" and "infectious," saying “Relax. It’s just sex.” Impossible. Although Janet Jackson delivers those instructions a mere six minutes into her new CD, “Damita Jo,” relaxation is the last thing on her agenda with this sinfully appealing concoction of infectious beats and scandalous lyrics." "Such content isn’t unusual in today’s pop culture landscape, where cable TV’s raunch is stealing viewers and awards from broadcast networks and the Cat in the Hat tells dirty jokes on movie screens." Washington added "As always, Jackson’s voice is sweet and frosting-light — there’s not one vamp or soaring note on the whole album. But we’ve never looked for vocal extravaganzas from Jackson, now 38. We look for her to entertain us with excellent videos, saturate the radio with catchy tunes, and move our bodies in the club." Washington continued to say “Damita Jo” has the goods to do exactly that." Praising the record's "many excellent tunes", Washington concluded Jackson to remain on par with rival Madonna and surpass Michael Jackson's recent work: "Janet’s output has remained consistently good, even eclipsing Michael’s in recent years. [...] For creating pop confections that you can grind to on the dance floor or wherever else grooves are got on, Jackson remains up there with Madonna as one of the best ever. She’s still relevant and compelling 22 years after her first album, and will probably remain so long after her right breast is forgotten." USA Today rated the album three out of four stars, saying Jackson "isn't sweating it musically" despite negative publicity. The critique regarded Jackson to "freely pursues her sexual and love fantasies", noting "If she ever seemed tentative in her erotic explorations in the past, she's completely self-assured here. [...] This is a happy, loving Jackson, as prone to romantic walks on the beach as to roadside quickies." Its premise of split personae was considered "a bit complicated", but clarified "that's who Damita Jo is." Jackson's decision to pursue new collaborators was said to have a "freshening" effect, while maintaining familiarity.
Giving it four out of five stars, Blender critic Ann Powers stated that Damita Jo is "Artfully structured, unapologetically explicit, Damita Jo is erotica at its friendliest and most well-balanced. This hour-plus of Tantric flow even erases the memory of Jackson’s clunky Super Bowl breast-baring. [...] Moving through various moods, Damita Jo’s songs touch on decades of pop-music romance, from the Motown sound that is the Jackson family’s foundation to hip-hop’s latest throwback beats. Her lyrics, though hardly avoiding familiar sex talk, meld common exhibitionism with convincing intimacies. Making it clear that she actually enjoys both having sex and singing about it, Jackson brings bliss back to a subject that too many dirty-mouthed hotties have made tedious through overexposure." The album was considered a "soul-baring, bedroom-eyed record", which was "swimming in pop hooks"; recommended "fans of sensual, soulful pop in general." Head rock and pop critic Alexis Petridis of The Guardian rated Damita Jo four out of five stars, saying "Damita Jo's opening salvo is an object lesson in keeping things concise. Four tracks, each barely three minutes long, go hurtling past in a head-spinning blur of snapping rhythms, buzzing synthesized noise and oddly disconnected samples: cut-up vocals and glockenspiel on Strawberry Bounce, rattling tablas on Sexhibition. Elsewhere, there are impossibly lithe basslines - notably on All Nite (Don't Stop) and I Want You, an intriguing electronic reconstruction of an early 1970s soul ballad. For the most part, the songs are not only inventive, but brilliantly constructed. The hooks nag, the choruses are explosive. R&B is primarily a singles genre - even the peerless Aaliyah's albums were a bit of a slog - but Damita Jo's strike rate is remarkably high. It's triumphant stuff." He also called the first single, "Just a Little While", "a brilliant, skeletal take on mid-1980s drivetime rock" Music critic Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times said, "The album is even sleeker and sexier than its predecessor, All for You, and in saner times, that would be enough to ensure its success. But this is a profoundly insane time for Ms. Jackson [...] Ms. Jackson does just the opposite. Warner Bros. Publications declared the album "flirty, sensual, hot pop", in "traditional Janet style", adding "The slow grooves blend together and the seductive vocals express passion."
Giving it three out of five stars, Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine criticized Damita Jo saying it featured "a slew of the gooey, structureless sex ballads that have become Janet's staple, including "Warmth," three-and-a-half minutes dedicated to describing how Ms. Jackson-if-you're-nasty gives a blowjob" but also called the songs "Like You Don't Love Me" and "Moist" "two of the album's best." Robert Christgau of The Village Voice called the album "less impressive than janet. [...] Damita Jo starts off bold - But as the album proceeds it gets realer, mostly whispered softcore by the second half even when it's love songs per se. Call me immature, but I figure there's never enough good sex in the world. In a culture inundated with dirty pornos, Damita Jo is good sex." David Browne of Entertainment Weekly rated it a 'C+' saying "This time, Jackson's stab at a sexy album also lacks a certain va-va-vroom. The tracks, many produced by her longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, have the sumptuous, homogenized creaminess we've come to expect from her [...] Thematically, Damita Jo is essentially the same record she's been making since 1993's janet., her first overtly carnal work." Angus Batey of Yahoo! Music UK gave it four out of ten stars, and criticized it saying "Numerous explanatory spoken word asides seek to reassure us that Janet, as she approaches 40, is seeking love rather than reveling in lust." On the other hand, she called "R&B Junkie" "a delicious throwback, like a glorious 'Rhythm Nation'", "I Want You" "a peculiar post-modern waltz with a '40s supper club vibe, being the ear-catcher", and "All Nite (Don't Stop)" "another precision-tooled winner, with Jackson using an almost ethereal higher-pitched vocal delivery."
Neil Strauss of Rolling Stone gave the album two out of five stars, saying "Damita Jo (titled after Jackson's middle name) smacks of trying too hard. [...] the truth is that Jackson is just trying to humanize herself, as she did so well on her breakthrough 1986 album, Control [...] Jackson has had eighteen years of monster hits, so it's hard to fault her instincts. [...] but there's too much of Jackson's moistness to wade through to get to Damita Jo's solid ground." Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic rated it two out of five stars and stated that "while sex indisputably fuels much great pop music, it isn't an inherently fascinating topic for pop music -- as with anything, it all depends on the artist. [...] Damita Jo proves that she was merely flirting with modesty, since it's as explicit as pop music gets." Ian Wade of BBC Music had mixed feelings about Damita Jo, saying that "While there's nothing outwardly bad about Damita Jo, at 22 tracks over 65 minutes, your attention does start to wander and you almost forget it's playing. But after a third or fourth listen, the slick grooves of "Spending Time With You" and "Island Life" gain more identity. [...] Damita Jo heralds no real major leap forward, but it's no pig's ear either. A bit of editing and a couple of killer dance tracks would've made it even better."
Responding to potential criticism about the album's sexual content, Jackson replied "One of the joys of writing is to watch reactions. And allow the reactions. People will say whatever they say. Everyone's entitled to his or her own interpretation. I'm fascinated by these interpretations. That's why I'm not big on analyzing my own lyrics. As far as calling Damita Jo a sexual obsession, though, I'm not sure. Obsession feels like a judgmental term to me, and when it comes to sex, I try to throw judgements out the window. If there's any obsession at all, it's this culture's demand that we be sexually categorized as either gay, straight or bi." "I do think they oversimplify sexuality. If we accept those categories, we feel constrained to choose. But the categories are artificial and often arbitrary. We aren't one thing but many things. We're everything at once. At different times in our life - at different times in the course of a single day - we respond in different ways. The common denominator shouldn't be sexual preference. It should be love. I like to think Damita Jo is all about love." Jackson likened her lyrics to metaphors for the intense emotions experienced during romantic and intimate moments, saying "In painting that portrait, I'm trying to infuse a spiritual quality to one of the most beautiful moments a woman can experience." Referring to "Moist", Jackson said "The metaphor is falling rain. I'm equating the lyrical grace of gentle water with the phenomenal sensation of physical release. I want to praise that sensation, celebrate that feeling, and recreate the ecstasy that comes with a total mind-blowing, body-shaking orgasm." Speaking about "Sexhibition", Jackson said "I wouldn't dissect that one too deeply. It's about wordplay. We were just tripping on the words. Trying to have fun by sexing up our vocabulary."
Damita Jo received two Grammy Award nominations for "Best Contemporary R&B Album and "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance." The album was ranked among the year's greatest albums in Blender Magazine, also ranked as one of "120 Essential Pop Albums" by The Daily Telegraph several years later. The "All Nite (Don't Stop)" music video won director Francis Lawrence the "Director of the Year" award at the MVPA Awards. Throughout the Damita Jo campaign, Jackson received numerous career accolades; which included the "Inspiration Award" at the Japanese Video Music Awards, "Legend Award" at the Radio Music Awards, "Silver Award" at the BPI Sales Awards, "Legend Award" at the MOBO Awards, "Icon Award" at the OHBMH Awards, "Favorite Female R&B Artist" at the American Music Awards, and "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the Soul Train Music Awards. Jackson also garnered nominations for "Best Female" at the Teen Choice Awards, "Best Female Singer of the Year" at the BET Awards, and "Artist of the Year" at the Source Awards. Additionally, Jackson was awarded for her humanitarian work and philanthropy, receiving the "Humanitarian Award" from the Human Rights Campaign and "Touching a Life Award" from the Behind the Bench Awards.
|American Music Awards||Favorite R&B Female Artist||Won|||
|Behind the Bench Awards||Touching a Life Award||Won|||
|BET Awards||Best Female Singer of the Year||Nominated|||
|Blender Magazine||50 Greatest Albums of 2004 (#50)||Won|||
|BPI Sales Awards||Silver Award||Won|||
|Comcast Xfinity||Music's Weirdest Alter Egos ("Damita Jo", #10)||Won|||
|Grammy Awards||Best Contemporary R&B Album||Nominated|||
|Grammy Awards||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance; "I Want You"||Nominated|||
|Human Rights Campaign||Humanitarian Award||Won|||
|MTV Japan Video Music Awards||Inspiration Award||Won|||
|MVPA Awards||Director of the Year: Francis Lawrence; "All Nite (Don't Stop)"||Won|||
|MOBO Awards||Icon Award||Won|||
|NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Female Artist||Won|||
|OHBMH Awards||Icon Award||Won|||
|Radio Music Awards||Legend Award||Won|||
|Soul Train Music Awards||Lifetime Achievement Award||Won|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Best Female||Nominated|||
|The Telegraph||120 Essential Pop Albums; 2008||Won|||
|Source Awards||R&B Artist of the Year||Won|||
|Complex||Sean Garrett's 25 Most Essential Songs||Won|||
|1.||"Looking for Love (Intro)"||1:29|
|5.||"My Baby" (featuring Kanye West)||4:17|
|6.||"The Islands (Interlude)"||0:39|
|7.||"Spending Time with You"||4:14|
|8.||"Magic Hour (Interlude)"||0:23|
|10.||"All Nite (Don't Stop)"||3:26|
|12.||"I Want You"||3:57|
|13.||"Like You Don't Love Me"||3:31|
|14.||"Thinkin' Bout My Ex"||4:36|
|17.||"It All Comes Down to Love (Interlude)"||0:39|
|19.||"The One (Interlude)"||1:02|
|22.||"Just a Little While"|
|1.||"Looking for Love (Intro)"||1:29|
|3.||"Exhibition"||writer3 = ||2:29|
|5.||"My Baby" (featuring Kanye West)||4:17|
|6.||"The Islands (Interlude)"||0:39|
|7.||"Spending Time with You"||4:14|
|8.||"Magic Hour (Interlude)"||0:23|
|10.||"All Nite (Don't Stop)"||3:26|
|12.||"I Want You"||4:12|
|13.||"Like You Don't Love Me"||3:39|
|14.||"Thinkin' Bout My Ex"||4:33|
|15.||"It All Comes Down to Love (Interlude)"||0:38|
|17.||"The One (Interlude)"||1:01|
|20.||"Just a Little While"|
|Japanese edition bonus tracks|
|24.||"Put Your Hands On"||3:56|
(*) denotes co-producer
|Japan||March 22, 2004||EMI|
|Australia||March 26, 2004|
|United Kingdom||March 29, 2004||Virgin Records|
|United States||March 30, 2004|