Fans of musician Janet Jackson are calling attention to a ranking of the greatest music award show performances in history that somehow omits mention of the iconic female performer.
A recent Billboard roundup of “The 100 Greatest Award Show Performances Of All Time,” which includes memorable live sets from several annual televised ceremonies including the Billboard Music Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards (VMA’s), as well as several others, completely fails to list the 50-year-old singer at all, despite mentioning her late brother Michael Jackson twice, and even giving the non-musical and inhuman Kermit the Frog a spot at No. 100 for a pre-recorded take of “The Rainbow Connection.”
Making the move all the more disheartening, the compilation of performances comes during the anniversary of a week that marked two unfair moments in the history of Janet Jackson’s longstanding music career.
For starters, this past Sunday’s Super Bowl LI Halftime Show marked the thirteenth anniversary of a still in-effect ban against Janet by the National Football League (NFL) for her own Super Bowl Halftime Show performance with former *NSYNC frontman, Justin Timberlake, in 2004 (ironically, Timberlake had a presence during this year’s game in the form of a commercial with actor Christopher Walken).
Additionally, with this coming Sunday’s 2017 Grammy Awards, it will be the ninth year that the starlet has been brushed aside by The Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys, in both underhanded and clear ways: not only was Jackson not asked to appear (thought she might not have attended anyway, as motherhood tends to take precedence over award show participation), but she also wasn’t nominated for Unbreakable, her 2015 release that missed the Grammy voting date by about two weeks in 2016, but was fully eligible to be considered for nomination for the 2017 telecast.
“How is the greatest female entertainer (and the greatest living entertainer) not included [on] a list concerning the great award show performances,” Lamont Hicks, the co-founder of Facebook fan group Janet Euphoria, questioned about Billboard’s article.
“Janet Jackson is a person that helped set the standard for great award show performances. The media is truly trying to erase [her] legacy.”
Hicks’ comments mirror those of many of Jackson’s fan base who feel that a long-rumored attempt to wipe Jackson out of music history altogether following her Super Bowl performance is shockingly. all too real.
Following the Halftime Show in 2004, Janet Jackson was blacklisted by several media-related organizations which effectively caused her music, her videos, and even her name to cease being promoted on or by way of radio stations, television screens and unsurprisingly, the occasional award show invite.
That same week, Jackson had been named as a presenter at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards, where it was expected that she would also give a public apology for her actions at the Super Bowl. Janet rightly rescinded the request, since doing so would insinuate some type of personal blame, whereas Timberlake relented to the show’s demands and was treated as a media darling, and still is to this very day.
Jackson, meanwhile, was rarely seen or heard from publicly after the matter, save for by her fans on the Rock Witchu and Number Ones: Up Close and Personal tours in 2008 and 2011; the first of which was truncated due to personal illness and the 2009 economic crisis, and the latter being funded by Jackson herself (it also stands to chance that Jackson had to use her own money due to being without a label after the sales failure of her Discipline album from 2008).
Most believed the proverbially-tight strings of the Janet media ban had finally been loosened after 2009, when her older brother Michael died at 50 during rehearsals for his This Is It stage shows, and she accepted a request to perform a tribute to him at that year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
The move was huge from both parties; from MTV, the network that hosted the now-infamous Super Bowl show that focused on Jackson’s participation, and Janet herself, who had not only seemed to accept the token of forgiveness that such an invitation alluded to, but did so less than three months after she buried her closest sibling.
Follow that up with the release of 2015’s Unbreakable, Janet’s first album of all-new material in almost seven years at that time, topping the Billboard Top 200 without the assistance of the normal fanfare that surround most fresh LP releases (the only promo was the lead-off single, “No Sleeep” with rapper J. Cole), and it was clear to everyone that the break in media attention was not just unnecessary, but still even not a factor of her remaining successful.
And this is where things, momentarily, take a bit of a petty turn, because if we really want to dig deep and get a little real about her actual importance, let’s not forget that even when she’s not actively working on music, the name Janet Jackson is still a major selling point in the world of media.
Another case in point: twice in the past six months, the elusive artist literally did nothing but exist in the world and she still managed to see her name trend for; to simplify the events, sending out a Twitter message, and for giving birth to her son, Eissa.
No new music, no music videos, nothing that women of all ages don’t do all around the world every single day, but there she was anyway — trending topic and still on our minds, Janet Jackson.
In other words, the media surely has no qualms in bringing up her name whenever it seems to benefit them, so why not do so when it’s actually necessary and it literally makes sense for them to do so, like on a best-of list regarding the most seminal music makers in the history of everything?
Well, truth be told, there are probably quite a few different factors as to why that still is (and yes, race is, without a doubt, most likely one of the leading reasons), but if this is all just about that 9/16th of a second that she never wanted to happen in the first, perhaps we all need to get a grip already.
With so many other music legends no longer with us, the last thing anyone should be purposely doing is ignoring another one over an accident. It’s beyond time, guys — give Janet Jackson the respect and mentions she rightfully deserves.
“She’ll most likely have to work against the damage done by that 9/16th of a second for the rest of her career, a tiny momentary blip that contains projections of some of the ugliest facets of America. And for this, we owe Janet Jackson a huge apology.”
[Featured Image by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images]