Feb. 10: Janet Jackson at the Entertainment Weekly Island Def Jam Grammy party in Los Angeles.
Janet Jackson does not blame the backlash from her 2004 Super Bowl appearance for her subsequent bad album sales.
Janet, the Jacksons' equivalent of Marilyn Munster, told me the other night that the CDs simply weren’t that good.
Both "Damita Jo" and "Janet" were flops. Many people in the music biz attributed her sales decline to her "wardrobe malfunction."
"Ms. Jackson" disagrees. "I think it was the music," she said when we talked about her upcoming album debut on Island DefJam, "Discipline."
"The albums weren’t right," she added.
The first track from "Discipline," titled "Feedback," was used as radio bait. The rest of "Discipline" — due on Feb. 26 — should undo the damage of her previous two outings, according to Jackson and her fiancé, Jermaine Dupri, who’s her main producer.
She deserves it, too. Jackson is a lovely woman, far removed from her family’s craziness. In fact, she told me of her notorious brother: "I haven’t seen Michael in a long time."
I was surprised reading another story about her this weekend in Parade. She admits to her father’s affairs and for the first time went on the record about the child he had with a mistress. Jackson insiders have known for years about Jovanni, Joseph Jackson’s youngest daughter who lives in Las Vegas.
Something else we learned in the Parade piece: Jackson has a beautiful apartment in Manhattan. Good for her!
The Police are going to announce a third leg of their phenomenally successful reunion world tour on Thursday. It begins May 1 in Ottawa, continues through a number of cities they haven’t already gotten to in the U.S. through the month, takes off for Europe in June and then returns to the U.S. for all of July.
The big news is that Elvis Costello is going to open every show with his group, The Imposters. Hot stuff, huh? This may be the tour of all tours. I know people who may leave jobs and families just to follow this one to the end!
Of course, The Police’s reunion, which started on May 28 in Vancouver, already is the most successful tour of all time.
Last week, Pollstar — which monitors concert tours around the world — gave The Police its 2007 Major Tour of the Year Award. The reunited group beat Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus and Van Halen.
But this round will be different. It’s the end. The End. When The Police — Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland — play their still-unannounced finale in New York in August, that will be it, for all time.
Sting called in from Japan the other day to confirm all this. It was snowing when he called, and he had been "frolicking like kids."
I wondered, by the way, what Sting’s been up to on the road since he left on Dec. 1. He spent New Year’s Eve in Sydney, Australia, on a boat with Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban and members of his family. "They’re a lovely couple," he said. "Very happy about their baby."
On the boat, his 17-year-old daughter, Coco, who’s determined to be a rock star, sang for everyone and played guitar. So did eldest son, Joe, whose group, Fiction Plane, opens for The Police.
What else has he been up to? Reading, of course. He’s got a few books going including Alex Ross’ "The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century," Thomas Pynchon’s "Against the Day" and the latest by J.M. Coetzee among them.
But even all that reading can get a little tedious. What will he do when it’s all over, and The Police are finally put to bed?
"Go home to Italy and write," he replied.
He and wife, Trudie Styler, and their extended family of six kids live in a magnificent villa near Florence where Sting has written, rehearsed and recorded for many years. It’s where he composed his best-selling classical album, "Songs From the Labyrinth," for example, three years ago.
"I’m going to pick a few olives," he said, and "think about new songs." Unlike some artists, Sting doesn’t find writing conducive on the road.
But … is this really it? "I think it’s done," said the multi-tasking singer/songwriter/activist/actor. "People came to see something from the past, and it was great."
But before he gets to Italy, Sting has many miles to go. This leg of the tour begins May 1 in Ottawa, Canada, and continues through the month. All of June is set for Europe, including the famous Isle of Wight concert on June 15. Then July is a trip through America that will make Jack Kerouac’s "On the Road" look like a Disney adventure.
Some of the cities include Buffalo, Columbus, Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha, Orlando — you get the drift. There are about 14 cities in May and July, with a more or less final date set for Long Island’s Jones Beach on Aug. 4.
Along the way, The Police will release a DVD of concerts filmed in South America from last December described as a "Valentine" to the group’s fans. So far no CD soundtrack is planned, although I pleaded with him to consider it.
And, sorry, there never will be a new album of Police music. The tour was meant to be a trip through the past, although it’s also been a learning experience.
"I’ve learned to navigate relationships, and a lot about letting go," Sting said, with a laugh. "I’m a control freak. But I can’t control everything. It’s difficult going back to an old marriage. I’ve learned a lot of spiritual lessons."
So far he has controlled one thing: the set list. The songs have not changed much since the tour began last May. "I say if it’s not broken, don’t fix it," Sting said, although he is considering adding a couple of surprises in the last shows. (Some of us would like to hear "Spirits in the Material World," "Synchronicity" or "Canary in a Coal Mine," for example.)
Doesn’t he get a little tired of the same songs, though, night after night?
"Never!" he declared. "I love those songs because they’ve been very good to me. I show them respect. I’m grateful for those songs."
And we are, too!
Steven Spielberg has resigned as Artistic Director for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Actress Mia Farrow had called for him to do this a while ago. Last year, George Clooney and Don Cheadle went to Beijing and Cairo and dangled Olympic athletes as bait in front of politicians as a warning: Clean up the tragic mess in Darfur or suffer the consequences. They didn’t. Now that Spielberg is gone, the rest of the Olympics is in crisis. It doesn’t help that British press reports Beijing is requiring athletes to sign agreements that they won’t criticize Chinese politics while at the games. Something tells me an Olympic-sized crisis is brewing. Kudos to Spielberg in the meantime. …
That Berry Gordy Motown Icons event on Sunday night following the Grammys was produced by Suzanne dePasse but also by NARAS and talent manager and bon vivant Benny Medina. Benny, if you don’t know, met Gordy’s kids when he was in high school, wound up hanging with them and living on Gordy’s estate. The result was the TV show "Fresh Prince of Bel Air," based on Medina’s experiences. Benny gave a loving (and long) testimonial to Gordy on Sunday night. …
Talk backstage at the Grammys that hedge funds, investors, all kinds of people are circling Warner M. ("M" is for "malfunctioning") Group now that its stock has sunk back down below $6 and is heading speedily for the bottom of the barrel.
As I’ve said before, WMG is in danger of losing its main artist, Josh Groban, who can easily be persuaded to leave for the right money. His partner, David Foster, ditto. …
Alicia Keys skipped the after-Grammy partying. The "Superwoman" is only human, after all. She played Clive Davis’ gala on Saturday, the Grammys on Sunday, filmed a Dove commercial and then headed to North Carolina for a movie. She can’t do everything! When the Grammys were over she told her handlers she didn’t feel well, and went home to bed. Smart girl. Britney, are you listening? ...
And just for the record since everyone likes to ask, Clive Davis is exactly 75 years old, going on 76. He’s in his "mid-'70s" not "late '70s" as I incorrectly described him. He’s the same age as my dad and Regis Philbin. Believe me, it’s an age you know if you know it. (If you know what I mean.) We should all be so lucky to be so vital!
The Writers Guild strike, as you undoubtedly know, is over after three very difficult months. There are many who’ll say it wasn’t worth it, but that’s short-sighted. The WGA strike should set a precedent for anyone whose work is on the Internet yet they’re not being paid for it.
In the music business, lack of solidarity has just about devoured an entire industry. If only the RIAA had the guts of the WGA and stood aggressively behind its artists. Right now, musicians’ work is available for free all over the World Wide Web. Wouldn’t it be something if the biggest rock stars — Clapton, McCartney, the Stones, Zeppelin, et al — joined together in the same way? The WGA gets kudos for its stand. Now, then, back to work!.