What you need to know about Janet Jackson's new documentary 'Janet'

The programme features full access to the singer and explores her extensive back catalogue

DUBAI - UNITRED ARAB EMIRATES - 26MAR2016 - Janet Jackson performing at the Dubai World Cup 2016, at the Meydan Racecourse. Ravindranath K / The National (for News)
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The anticipation surrounding Janet Jackson’s documentary is reaching fever pitch with the release of the official trailer.

Uploaded on US broadcaster Lifetime’s Twitter account, the three-minute preview of Janet propelled Jackson’s name to trend globally on the platform within hours.

In addition to her enduring star power, a key reason for the enthusiasm is the teaser being the first glimpse of the project since the initial announcement in March.

The trailer for the two-part documentary, which will have its premiere on Lifetime on January 28, appears to fulfil the promise made by producers and Jackson in providing an unflinching look at her storied four-decade career.

The visuals juxtapose between candid videos of Jackson recording at home and the studio, with professionally shot interviews of peers and friends, from pop stars Mariah Carey and Missy Elliott to Hollywood actors Samuel L Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg.

The trailer begins with Jackson in the back of a car, being asked why she is taking part in the documentary.

“Because it is just something that needs to be done,” she says.

The trailer goes on to feature Jackson discussing some of the controversial relationships and moments from her life.

She describes how her career suffered as a result of her close relationship with brother Michael Jackson and the sexual abuse allegations levelled against him: “Guilt by association, because that’s what they call it right?” she says.

As for Jackson’s relationship with her late father Joe Jackson, she describes his domination of the family as down to his will to see the Jackson siblings become successful.

“My father was very strict,” she says. “He was in charge of my life and my career. My father said, 'you are going to sing.'"

Those intimate insights are matched against commentary on Jackson’s effect on popular culture.

Singer and actress Teyana Taylor describes Jackson as someone who has "literally done it all."

Intriguingly, Jackson’s 2004 Super Bowl performance alongside Justin Timberlake is mentioned once in the trailer, with home video footage of Jackson receiving the initial offer to perform, from her management team.

With Jackson also reflecting on family and relationships, Janet is shaping up to be one of this year’s most talked-about programmes.

The artist herself expects the conversation surrounding the show to continue long after the credits. “There is a lot of scrutiny of having that last name.”

The team behind ‘Janet’

Produced by Jackson and (unrelated) music mogul Randy Jackson, the documentary is meant to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her self-titled debut.

The hype surrounding Janet goes back to 2021 when the project was officially announced and the wider discussion surrounding celebrity and the music industry triggered by Framing Britney Spears.

The film, available in Mena for streaming on OSN, touched upon Jackson’s notorious Super Bowl performance and the industry backlash she received, while Timberlake's career was left relatively unscathed.

While Jackson has yet to formally respond to Timberlake's public apology, as a result of the outcry caused by Framing Britney Spears, the furore surrounding the documentary resulted in her 1986 album Control shooting to No 1 on Apple's Top 40 US Pop Albums chart.

Jackson went online to thank her fans for their support.

“I'm so thankful for all of you being in my life,” she said.

"You're so special to me and I want to thank all of you for making Control No 1 once again after 35 years."

An inauspicious start

While the anniversary of Jackson's debut album is cause for celebration, the recording itself didn't exactly herald a new star born.

Released in September 1982, when Jackson was 16, all the tracks and lyrics were provided by US songwriters Rene Moore and Angela Winbush.

An assortment of often forgettable teen pop and ballads, the album failed to crack the top 50 in both the US and UK charts.

Understandably, songs from the album rarely feature in Jackson’s concerts.