Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright) - Janet Jackson, Stewart, Rod 
I Get Lonely - Janet Jackson, Elizondo, Rene
Teaming with her most accomplished collaborators, producer-songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson delivers what is easily her finest record since Rhythm Nation--and arguably her best ever. Highlights include ... more »jams like "You" and "Got 'Til It's Gone," which recontextualizes samples from War and Joni Mitchell, respectively; the funky memorial to a dear departed, "Together Again"; and a slinky cover of Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night." Best of all, though, is "What About." An accusatory throwdown for a lover who beats and cheats even as he professes his love, it swings angrily between tender quiet and raging bitter funk. --David Cantwell« less
Teaming with her most accomplished collaborators, producer-songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson delivers what is easily her finest record since Rhythm Nation--and arguably her best ever. Highlights include jams like "You" and "Got 'Til It's Gone," which recontextualizes samples from War and Joni Mitchell, respectively; the funky memorial to a dear departed, "Together Again"; and a slinky cover of Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night." Best of all, though, is "What About." An accusatory throwdown for a lover who beats and cheats even as he professes his love, it swings angrily between tender quiet and raging bitter funk. --David Cantwell
The 10th Anniversary Of The Best Album Ever Made: Janet Jack
Adam B. Irby | Harlem, NYC, USA | 10/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""It's my belief that we all have the need to feel special and it's this need that can bring out the best in us yet the worst in us. This need created the velvet rope." -Janet Jackson
Ten years ago today, October 7th, 1997 Janet Jackson released what is her most profound and thought provoking piece of work ever, "The Velvet Rope." In my opinion it is the best and will always be the best album ever made. There is probably not a professional music reviewer anywhere who will agree with me but that's okay. Beside the musical merits of the album it has a much deeper emotional resonance with me.
At the time this album came out I was fourteen years old, a freshman in high school. I had already been a casual fan of Janet's since "Rhythm Nation 1814" and all throughout the "janet." years but I was still a kid and I really didn't get into her until then. Even at that time I was still young and was only getting $1.75 a day spending money for school, needless to say I didn't buy this album when it was first released.
My first memory of hearing it in it's entirety was laying on the floor of my eldest sister's house one Saturday afternoon listening to it on her portable CD player. I was so enthralled by the sounds of the album and the amazing graphic design, photographs and imagery of the album booklet. That day was the day that I fell in love with music. Finally at 16 years old "The Velvet Rope" was the first CD I ever bought with my own money.
"The Velvet Rope" is an eclectic opus with touches of R&B, pop, rock, dance, and classical music. It plays out like a theatrical production and is best heard in full. Every interlude, every word of all twenty-two tracks of this CD are all important. They all work together to cohesively bring forth the message, to tell of your need, my need, our need, the need to feel special. The need that brings out the best and yet the worst of us, the need that created "The Velvet Rope." The velvet rope that helps us hide our feelings, holds back our public and binds us up for our lovers.
Coming off of the most successful album of her career 1993's "janet.," which sold over 17 million records worldwide and was the first record by a female artist to debut at #1 in the United States in the Nielsen SoundScan era. She released six singles off of this album and toured almost two years promoting it. This was her first album with Virgin Records the company with which she signed a 40 million dollar record contract, which at that time broke the record for the largest record deal ever. "janet." was largely a happy, R&B/pop record which was a mix between upbeat catchy songs and slower more seductive songs. "The Velvet Rope", released four years later was a much darker record, reflective of the sadness Janet was feeling at the time. The album was panned by critics for being too controversial but was a fan favorite. It was and actually still is Janet's most introspective record.
This album embodies so many feelings and emotions: happiness on "Go Deep", hope on "Together Again", regret on "Got 'Til It's Gone", loneliness on "I Get Lonely", anticipation on "Tonight's The Night", pride on "Can't Be Stopped", self realization on "You", horniness on "My Need", emptiness on "Empty", anger on "What About", fear on "Every Time." There are so many subjects that Janet touched on the this album that had been seldom talked about ever in popular music: spousal abuse on "What About", sado-masochism on "Rope Burn", masturbation on "Interlude - Speaker Phone", homosexuality, lesbianism and bisexuality on "Free Xone" and "Tonight's The Night."
My two favorite Janet Jackson songs ever are on this album. "I Get Lonely" and "Rope Burn" are in my opinion two of Janet's best vocal performances coupled with live instruments and Janet's trademark background vocals that ooze sensuality. The title track "Velvet Rope" blends Janet's vocals with a most interesting array of background dings and tingles coupled with classical violinist Vanessa Mae's rousing violin solo that brings the song to its aural and emotional apex. "You" is brilliantly written song whose vamp remained an enigma to me for years until someone explained to me that she was spelling conscience backwards "e-c-n-e-i-c-s-n-o-c."
Besides being conceptually and audibly interesting the visuals for the album were dazzling. The album cover was different than that of her previous albums. It was hardly glamorous just a picture of Janet in a black shirt with frizzy red hair her her head hung slightly down, not looking into the camera. Her name isn't even conspicuously emblazoned across the picture. It is subtly spelled out in a blurred block formation embossed in the top half of the picture. You can only notice it if you tilt it and look at the picture in the light. The pictures inside of Janet sporting her nipple and septum piercings, covered in latex and tied up in bondage were indeed works of art themselves. The videos the Grammy winning, "Got Til' It's Gone" with it's African apartheid theme and "Together Again" set in the jungle in which she hugs herself and touches her own [...], "I Get Lonely" with it's almost futuristic feel and amazing transitions cemented Janet's status as not just a musical but a visual artist.
Many of the themes of the album hit home for me. "Empty", a song about finding love on the internet was quite timely due to the fact that the internet and instant messaging had just started to rise in popularity. The emptiness that she felt when the person she talked to wasn't there and the questioning whether what they had could be real resonated for me as a person who has dated via the internet before. Lyrics such as these spoke right to me:
"I'm rushin' home to turn you on Sometimes you're there sometimes you're gone Wait for hours for your return So tell me please, am I wasting my time? Your phrases, descriptive, and through the textured words With beauty, you post it, and use such colored verbs
So tell me you think that maybe we've gone insane? To find a, a lover and through the words of pain We've never met, ooh
When I close my eyes, I can see your face When I lick my lips, I can taste your smile When I see your name, my heart starts to race If I can't read your thoughts, then I feel empty"
Songs like "Velvet Rope" and "You" spoke to the self confidence issues I was having with lyrics that brought forth truth and clarity and let me know that I wasn't alone. If a mega superstar like Janet Jackson can wake up sometimes feeling unloved, unworthy and empty and make her way through it, so could I.
You never forget your first love and though many albums have come along since, some poppier, some bluesier, some edgier but "The Velvet Rope" will always be my favorite and have a special irreplaceable place in my heart. "
Janet Unloads Her Baggage.
The Groove | Boston, MA | 08/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Velvet Rope" was released during a stage where Janet Jackson was forced to face her innermost demoms which have followed her for much of her lifetime. For the first time ever, Janet came forward and revealed her emotional problems, proving that even the most glamorous of stars have their own crosses to bear. However, they say that work can sometimes be the best therapy, and on "The Velvet Rope," Janet sounds amazingly strong and resilient. She tackles domestic violence on the hard-hitting "What About," makes a touching tribute to those who have succumbed to AIDS on the housed-up "Together Again," and challenges homophobia on "Free Xone." The disc isn't all about doom and gloom, though. Janet sounds even more sexually liberated here, as evidenced on "Go Deep" and her cover of Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night." In the latter song, Jackson still sings the "girl" bit in the lyric, giving this classic song a same-sex twist. Jackson just gets better and better with each record, proving that she's no faceless video artist. "The Velvet Rope" is a funky ride that cements her status as an r&b veteran."
Most Controversial Janet Album Yet!
jshippo2001 | California | 05/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is definately Janet's most intimate and personal album yet. While we had hints of sexuality on Janet (If, The Body That Loves You) and controversial topics on Rhythm Nation, Janet now takes it to the next level. Most people say this album is her most sexual, but there are really only two sexual songs: Rope Burn, which discusses bondage, and Tonight's The Night. The real reason this album was so controversial is the other subject matter. Empty talks about the problems with online relationships, and Janet asks her lover how he can know all about her since he's never seen her. Together Again is her monster hit celebrating her friends who died of AIDS. Free Xone was created to fight homophobia, and is a pro bisexual song. Got Til' Its Gone, and the angry What About have the first major swear words in Janet's songs. Most of the album though is about expressing yourself and the need to feel special. You and Velvet Rope talk about that topic, while Special seems to be a letter to the former Janet discussing how long it's been since she's been in touch with her inner self. This album features outstanding guest artists including Q-Tip, Vanessa Mae and Joni Mitchell, and is full of samples. Some songs include up to three sampled songs in them. Overall, this isn't Janet's best (In my opinion, that title goes to Janet) but this is pretty damn good and will stay in my collection for a very long time."
"The Velvet Rope"-A Twisted Masterpiece
lenzino | Boston, MA USA | 02/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1997, Janet Jackson went throught one of the toughest times of her career. Suffering from severe depression, Janet ran to her music and used it as her therapy. Unknowingly, Janet would create one of the most bizarre yet incredible albums of all time. Rivaling even the epic powerhouse "Rhythm Nation 11814" as the best album of her career, "The Velvet Rope" has such a significant depth in it's music that most artists dream of. Like "Rhythm Nation", Janet covers a vareity of strong topics like depression, loneliness, domestic abuse, AIDS, death, homophobia, even bondage! The music is so surreal and one of the few albums that I've truly idenfied with as I too have suffered from severe depression. This flawless album can be summed up like this:
Twisted Elegance-Janet utters the title and declares that we have a need to feel special and that it create The Velvet Rope.
Velvet Rope-A haunting, thought-provoking track that has Janet singing mysteriously. The lyrics are poetic and the arrangements are stunning with Vanessa Mae's great input.-5/5 stars
You-One of the most bizarre songs of Janet's career with a flashy yet retrospective beat and Janet singing in a very deep even inhuman. A song about self-reflection, it song that has you wondering about you you think you really are.-5/5 stars
Got Til' It's Gone-One of my favorite songs from Janet's career and one of her most underrated, this is a dreary yet soulful r&b groove that's about yearning for the things you lost and wished you had again. With an exceptional rap solo from Q-tip, Janet's whispery yet chilling vocals, and an ingenuis sample of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi", this is musical bliss!-5/5 stars
Interlude: Speaker Phone-A dirty yet hilarious coversation between Janet and (possibly?) Lisa Marie. "You're cooche gonna swell up and fall apart", lol!
My Need-A fast paced r&b track that has Janet singing about her sexual desires for the night. It's very cool and well arranged track that is catchy and matches the mood of the album perfectly.-4.5/5 stars
Interlude: Fasten Your Seatbelts-A funny intro to the next song with Janet and her friends telling listeners to fasten their seatbelts.
Go Deep-A great fun-filled club groove that is a refreshing change from the darkness of the album with great arrangements and an undeniablly catachy chorus.-5/5 stars
Free Xone-Another bizarro song with the track shifting from a subtle beat to swinging uptempo beat. Janet hardly sings but the lyrics are strong as it speaks on homophoia and the arrangement truly handled flawlessly-4.5 stars
Interlude: Memory-Janet gives touching quote about memory and pain.
Together Again-One of the greatest songs of her career with an infectious beat, Janet's wonderful vocals and touching lyrics about losing her friend to AIDS. It's no wonder it was her most successful single worldwide!-5/5 stars
Interlude: Online-The sounds of internet use fill the background.
Empty-A breathtaking song beyond it's time which is about the emptiness of online chats since it was relatively new in the late 90s. Janet just excels throughout the song.-5/5 stars
Interlude: Full-Janet gives another amazing quote: "How empty of me...to be so full of you."
What About-The most intense song Janet has ever done! It switches from a calm, soothing beat to an raging rock/r&b flare with jaw-dropping lyrics. Janet give one of the best vocal performances as she switches from vuneraable state to an enrage siren with such ease. A powerful song with a heartbreaking message about domestic abuse, this is an unforgettable masterpiece!-5/5 stars
Everytime-A beautiful ballad that sees Janet showing that vunerable side of herself so well.-4.5/ stars
Tonight's The Night- An effortless and refreshing rendition of Neil Young's 1975 classic.-4.5/5 stars.
I Get Lonely-Probably her best r&b song since "That's The Way Love Goes". With a heavy soulful beat, Janet's smokin vocals, and lovely lyrics about loneliness, it's all so good!-5/5 stars
Rope Burn-The most controversial song on the album that finds Janet for the first time pushing her sexual limits! The lyrics are very risque and ratchy yet Janet still pulls it off...this time anyway.-4.5/5 stars
Anything-A very dark and soothing ballad that sees Janet still sexually frustrated and urging her lover that she would do about anything to get some. The smooth arrangements and Janet's quality carm make this irresitible!-5/5 stars
Interlude: Sad-"You must learn to water your spiritual garden." Nicely siad, very poetic!
Special-A graceful ballad that has Janet sounding so sweet and vunerable as she explains that she has the need to feel special by singing about her life.-4.5/ stars
*Hidden Track* Can't Be Stopped-A glamourious uptempo track that should have been an offical track. The beat is cool with Janet singing with confidence about being invunerable when it comes prejudice, her gender, etc. A perfect finish!-5/5 stars
I can't explain it in any other words how incredible this really album is. To this day, it's timeless and is better than ALL of the crap these young artists are putting out today. "The Velvet Rope" is an album that makes you think about the music you're listening to instead lsiteners just jamming to it. Janet truly created her finest and unfornately, last truly classic album as her albums of the 2000s just can't touch the brilliance of this phenomenal effort."
The CD that changed my life
Princeton Dude | 11/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"8 years ago I was a scared 14-year-old kid with low self-estem, I was depressed, I was in so much pain. This album helped me deal with being gay, with all the pain that was inside of me, my fears and my loneliness. 8 years later as a 22 year old college student I cannot begin to describe how much this album changed my life.
Together Again, Got Til' It's Gone, I Get Lonely, Go Deep and Every Time are the highlights, but every song speaks to me on this album. Musically, the production on this album is the best production anybody could expect. This was the album that made me love Janet Jackson and even though she's no longer the same person I'm forever grateful to her for the Velvet Rope."