Who's the ultimate Pop Queen: Janet Jackson or Madonna? | The Tylt
Who's the ultimate Pop Queen: Janet Jackson or Madonna?
Madonna and Janet Jackson have rivaled for the title "Queen of Pop" for so long that there were rumors of a feud in the '90s. If anything, there was definitely some shade thrown back then. But regardless of these so-called rumors, what really matters is their impact as artists and entertainers. They were both record-breaking female artists that empowered women and LGBTQ people to be sexual, fierce, strong, independent and vulnerable all in one.
Janet's visual-compelling concepts inspired people across color and gender lines. Madonna's remained a pop culture phenomenon by reinventing herself time and time again—while pushing the envelope.
Janet—Ms. Jackson if you're nasty—has broken down many barriers for Black and female artists. Along with Whitney Houston and Tina Turner, she became a crossover pop superstar, which was rare for Black female artists during that time. Her third studio album "Control" became her breakthrough hit. The conceptual album is all about Janet's independence, breaking away from her father and the rest of the Jacksons, and ending a toxic marriage to James DeBarge.
She teamed up with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and the rest is history! "Control" scored a string of Billboard hits including "What Have You Done for Me Lately" and "Nasty." "When I Think of You" became Janet's first #1 pop hit. Since then, she has scored 9 more pop #1s and a total of 27 top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Janet has also crossed over into other genres—scoring multiple #1 hits on the Adult Contemporary, Dance, Rock and R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts.
Madonna isn't just labeled the "Queen of Pop," she's also considered the "Queen of Reinvention." Her first self-titled debut album was a success, but her sophomore album "Like a Virgin" made her an instant pop icon—featuring not only the #1 hit "Like a Virgin," but pop hits "Material Girl" and "Into the Groove."
Madonna gave even the King of Pop a run for his rule in the '80s. "True Blue" and "Like a Prayer" also became multi-platinum successes. Madge continued to not only wow her fans, but push the envelope with her controversial art and sexuality—challenging heteronormative society on what's deemed "acceptable" for female sexuality and social commentary. By the time of her "Blond Ambition World Tour," she had empowered women everywhere with "Express Yourself" and helped bring a piece of gay Black and Latino culture into the mainstream with "Vogue."
Ciara, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Keke Palmer, Usher, Chris Brown, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Cassie, Aaliyah, Justin Timberlake, Pink, Jason Derulo, Mýa, Tinashe, TLC, Keri Hilson, Kendrick Lamar, *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, etc. These are just a few of the music artists that Janet has inspired.
Many artists have cited Janet as a big musical influence and have paid homage to her. Janet's crossover success gives rap icon Kendrick Lamar and the world's greatest boy band Backstreet Boys something in common. That's Janet's impact. She transcended musical genres and styles all the while creating signature moves, complex choreography and infectious R&B/pop tunes.
Pushing the envelope and reinventing herself for over 30 years paid off. Madonna is simply the undisputed best-selling female artist of all time. And many around the world argue that alone makes her the reigning Queen of Pop.
Janet broke many records with her "Rhythm Nation 1814" album alone. The "Rhythm Nation World Tour" became the highest-grossing debut concert tour by an artist in history. And "Rhythm Nation" is the only album to have seven top 5 Billboard Hot 100 hits: "Miss You Much" (peaked at #1), "Rhythm Nation" (peaked at #2), "Escapade (peaked at #1), "Alright (peaked #4)," "Come Back to Me" (peaked at #2), "Black Cat" (peaked #1) and "Love Will Never Do (Without You) (peaked #1).
By the end of the '90s, Janet became Billboard's 2nd artist with the most #1s behind Mariah Carey.
Watch "Rhythm Nation"—one of Janet's most signature music videos below.
We all remember that epic "Like a Virgin" VMAs performance in 1984, right? The Queen of Pop was born then! Madonna rolled around on stage in a wedding dress. Her style in the "Like a Virgin" video is probably her most signature and iconic look.