Single Review: Janet Jackson’s comeback is “Made For Now”

It has been 10 years since Janet Jackson has had a successful single. Her last was 2008’s “Feedback,” and even getting to its #19 peak was a long road. The 2004 Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction rendered Janet taboo to radio and television outlets, and she’s struggled to be accepted ever since. However, since the release of 2015’s Unbreakable album, the tide has seemed to change. Enter “Made For Now.”

Unbreakable debuted at #1 and garnered rave reviews, though it failed to produce a truly successful single (“No Sleeep” faired decently at R&B radio). To be fair, Janet did little to promote the era beyond going on tour (which was cancelled midway through due to her pregnancy). With “Made For Now,” Janet’s next era seems to be off to much more promising start. The single is the first offering from her upcoming EP, to be released later this year.

A New Era: “Made For Now”

Ms. Jackson has been vigorously promoting her new single, “Made For Now,” featuring Daddy Yankee, and it has paid off. Released Friday, August 17th, the song stayed in the Top 10 of iTunes for nearly four days, making it as high as #4. As of Tuesday morning, it sits at #12. On YouTube, it has amassed over 15 million views in just over four days. Friday’s performance of the song on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon has an additional one million more views. By comparison, the lead single from Unbreakable, “No Sleeep,” has tallied just 20 million views since its release in 2015.

Rightfully so, though. The Dave Meyers directed “Made For Now” is by far Janet’s best music video since her very first video with Meyers, 2001’s “All For You.” That alone is reason enough for the tremendous love the single has received. Not only that, but the song is simply invigorating with its Afrocentric sound, Latin/Reggaeton flair and the guest verse by Daddy Yankee’. The melding of cultures in the song and video is truly indicative of it’s message of love. It’s truly “Made For Now,” for 2018.

The State of the World

Considering the state of the world today (pun intended), Janet has made it her mission to spread love with “Made For Now.” The song’s message is all too appropriate for today’s climate. As well, the cultural vibrancy of the video only makes the message all that much stronger. In spite of the white supremacy and hateful rhetoric that has infiltrated today’s media and American consciousness, Janet does what she always has, but in a new way. Instead of a rallying cry for social justice (ala 1989’s “Rhythm Nation” or 2015’s “Should’ve Known Better”), she opts to simply celebrate life. She sings, “Love is in the rhythm now, we’re dancing with a whole new feeling, love is on the way to fill you up.” Indeed, her answer to the emptiness is love.

Made For All

The song is catchy and energetic, bound to make you move. With production helmed by the British Nigerian producer Harmony Samuels, alongside Janet’s longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, it’s no surprise the song is such an infectious bop. Harmony said he wanted to bring a new sound to Janet’s discography, something she had never really experimented with before: an Afrocentric sound. The influence is clear: “Made For Now” sounds and feels like a Nigerian gospel song akin to another Harmony production, Michelle Williams’ “Say Yes,” featuring Destiny’s Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé. Both songs share similarly repetitive structures, feel-good messages, and club-ready danceability. In both cases, the result is scintillating success.

Official Billboard chart numbers have yet to be released, but regardless of where it places on the chart, it’s clear that Janet Jackson’s status as a legendary icon has been reignited in the public consciousness. Indeed, she is, more than ever, “Made For Now.”

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