Brow Beat

Janet Jackson’s First Single in Five Years Is a Welcome Throwback to Her Velvet Rope Days

Janet Jackson in 2011
It’s nice to have the old Janet back.

Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images

After Janet Jackson announced her marriage in 2012 to Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana, she all but disappeared from the public eye, amid rumors that she converted to Islam and had retired from the entertainment industry for good. So it came as a welcome surprise when, in May, she announced her first album in seven years and a world tour. Now the good news keeps on coming with the release of her first new single in five years, “No Sleep.”

If you’re a fan of Jackson circa Janet. and The Velvet Rope, you’ll probably appreciate this sultry slow jam, which sounds like it could have been a lost track from either one of those beloved albums. Produced by long-time recording partners Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, “No Sleep” is a nice departure from the singer’s more recent output, which has all-too-frequently relied upon forgettable electronic beats and an overdose of autotune. Here, Jackson’s soft, cooing vocals (about reuniting with a lover for a 48-hour, sleepless marathon of … binge-watching, presumably) are left largely untouched, the production uncluttered—for the first time in over a decade, she sounds like she’s squarely in her musical comfort zone. If this is what we have to look forward to with the new album, Jackson might finally achieve the comeback we’ve been hoping for.