Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hot Shot: Call On Me by Janet & Nelly

You gotta check out Janet's new song, Call On Me, which is a duet with Nelly. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Nelly cos I don't really like his voice. Surprisingly he gives a restrained and smooth performance here, underlining this song as a chill-out tune of the summer.

This song is from Janet's highly-anticipated (by me) album, 20 Years Old, due 26 September. For the uninitiated, the date marks the 20th anniversary of her breakthrough album, Control.

Control, of course, is the album that launched Janet's solo career, spawning six hit singles: What Have You Done For Me Lately, Nasty, When I Think Of You, Control, Let's Wait Awhile and The Pleasure Principle.

Control was the album that marked Janet's partnership with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, a partnership that has stood through the past 20 years as they are back on board for her upcoming album. During this time, they have had much success, which will an entry in itself.

However, joining the party this time is none other than Mr JD himself, a.k.a. Jermaine Dupri, a.k.a. Janet's boyfriend. JD needs no introduction but I shall give him one. He's the mastermind behind Mariah's "comeback" album, The Emancipation of Mimi, as well as Usher's megaplatinum Confessions album.

No doubt, there is huge pressure on JD to deliver the goods once more now. The good news is, he has delivered. For the first single at least.

Fans who were expecting a much more upbeat lead single in the vein of All For You will be disappointed, as Call On Me is more laid back and chilled out. However, since when has Janet played by the books? Her first single off the 1993 janet. album was the super chilled out That's The Way Love Goes, and The Velvet Rope from 1997 had the quirky Got 'Til It's Gone as the lead single.

With Call On Me, Janet asserts that she is fully in control again, after the fiasco of 2004, when her Just A Little While single was leaked to radio prematurely. The fact that the song was released a day after the Superbowl incident led some to speculate that the whole Superbowl incident was a huge publicity stunt aimed at promoting the single. Well, it backfired and both the single and the Damita Jo album flopped, by Janet's standards at least.

This time, the publicity and promotional efforts seem to be better prepared, where the song is released to radio four months before the album release. While it may seem like a long time, I feel that it allows the song to grow on to listeners. It's also a nice tune for the summer so it fits pretty well.

There is also ample time for the video shoot, which JD says is going to be the most expensive video of the last three years. Like her brother, Janet is known for making videos of the highest standards, featuring striking visuals and choreography, so I'm hoping the video will be a blast.

By the time the album is released, there will be another single out already. This gives listeners more incentive to buy the album as they would have heard two songs already, and hopefully, two hits.

Back to the new single now. Call On Me is a grower and it is actually a very simple song. Janet is not known to be a vocal powerhouse and she plays to her strengths here, using the soft and tender voice that has served her so well. Nelly's performance is commendable here and he manages to blend well with Janet.

Then there are the obligatory ad libs from JD himself, peppered throughout the track. He does the same thing with Mariah's songs as well. It's a little irritating, but as long as the song is a hit, I shall not complain.

It'll be interesting to see how JD will blend with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis production-wise for this album. Already we have heard two tracks from the two teams - Weekend was a gift from Janet to her fans and it was produced by Jimmy and Terry, while Call On Me is produced by JD.

The Jimmy and Terry sound is a little dated but perhaps it's a throwback to the Control album, which was after all, and 80's sound. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt here. JD does lend a more modern R&B sound to Janet and I think it will serve the album well. Hope there won't be any clash in musical styles or we'll end up with a very disjointed album.

Ok, you should go listen to Call On Me right now (I'm sure you have your means). Get ready for a new Janet and watch out for the video!


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