Janet Jackson: A look back at the pop star's career

Born into a famous family, the singer found her own success with 'Control' and has a net worth of $180 million

Janet Jackson's celebrity may seem to ebb and flow at times, but her impact on the world of music is undeniable.

The 55-year-old pop star is the subject of the eponymous four-part Lifetime docuseries that aired at the end of January, chronicling her career from its earliest days until very recently.

The first part last Friday was seen by 2.8 million people on live TV, and another 1.2 million in the next few days either digitally or on demand, the Nielsen company said. Part two had a similar viewership of 4.3 million, Part three had 3.7 million and the final part had 3.8 million.

Those numbers were expected to grow with delayed viewing over the next few weeks.


Born into a family of performers, Jackson saw her career begin very early, when she was added to the cast of "The Jacksons," a variety show starring her family, including older brother Michael Jackson.

Though "The Jacksons" would last for only a single season, the star's acting career would continue when she was cast in "Good Times," which saw her play Penny Woods from 1977-1979. She also had recurring roles in "Diff'rent Strokes" and "Fame" in subsequent years.

Jackson dove into music in the early 1980s, releasing her self-titled debut album in 1982. "Janet Jackson" placed well on Billboard's R&B album chart at the time. Her second album, "Dream Street," was released in 1984 and charted similarly.

‘The Jacksons’ stars (clockwise from lower row, left): Janet, Randy, Jackie, Michael, Tito, Marlon, LaToya and Rebbie Jackson. (CBS/Getty Images / Getty Images)

After the release of "Dream Street," Jackson famously split from her family and set out to make an album not overseen by her father. The result was 1986's "Control," a raging success, remembered these days for songs like "Nasty," "Let's Wait Awhile" and the title track.

She would receive her first three Grammy nominations for the album, as well as for the single "What Have You Done For Me Lately." Critically acclaimed for its innovative genre-blending and empowering lyrics, "Control" cemented Jackson as a force to be reckoned with in the music business.


Jackson continued her trend of socially conscious music with her next album"Rhythm Nation 1814," which promoted messages of unity. The record was another smash hit and sold over 12 million copies worldwide, featuring songs like "Black Cat," "Escapade" and more.

Jackson nabbed her first Grammy in 1990 for best music video - long form for "Rhythm Nation 1814." That same year, she received three other nominations.

Next, in 1993, came the album "Janet.," featuring famed songs "If," "That's The Way Love Goes" and "Any Time, Any Place." Like its predecessors, the record sold and charted very well, continuing the star's nearly-unparalleled success in the industry.

By the end of the 1980s, Jackson was a bonafide superstar thanks to the massive success of her albums ‘Control’ and 'Rhythm Nation 1814.' (Getty Images / Getty Images)

The album was also noteworthy as Jackson put her sexuality on the forefront and became known as a sex symbol around the world.

That same year, Jackson returned to acting with a leading role in "Poetic Justice" opposite Tupac Shakur, Regina King and Maya Angelo. Jackson co-wrote the movie's theme song, "Again," and received an Oscar nomination for best music, original song.

In 1997, Jackson reinvented herself for her album "The Velvet Rope," which contained more socially progressive messaging. Notably, she continued to blend genres on the record, with "Got ‘Til It’s Gone" featuring vocals from rapper Q-Tip and a sample of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi."


The album's song "Together Again" gave Jackson her eighth No. 1 hit, putting her on the same level as Diana Ross, the Rolling Stones and Elton John.

In 2000, Jackson again returned to acting, starring in "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" alongside Eddie Murphy before releasing the album "All For You" the following year.

"All For You" was seen as a return to form for Jackson, and produced well-known hits like "Doesn't Really Matter," "Someone to Call My Lover" and the title track. She again tapped into material from her predecessors, featuring Carly Simon's vocals alongside Missy Elliott on "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)."

Janet Jackson performs at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show with Justin Timberlake in 2004. At the end of the performance, she suffered a wardrobe malfunction and her breast was exposed on television. (Getty Images / Getty Images)

In 2004, Jackson performed at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show alongside Justin Timberlake. The performance famously ended with Jackson's breast being exposed on live television in an apparent wardrobe malfunction.

The moment would go on to cause controversy for years with blame for the incident – and its negative impact on Jackson's image and career – tossed around until Timberlake publicly apologized.

After the incident, Jackson was barred from appearing at the 2004 Grammys, and the production of a film set to star Jackson was halted. Later that year, she released the album "Damita Jo," named after her middle name, which spawned the hit "All Nite (Don't Stop)" – its performance was hindered by Jackson being blacklisted by radio stations following the Super Bowl incident.


In 2006, she released her ninth studio album, "20 Y.O.," which features "So Excited (Feat. Khia)," and "Call On Me." The following year, she'd star alongside Tyler Perry in "Why Did I Get Married?"

In 2008, Jackson released yet another record, "Discipline," known for the songs "Feedback" and "Rock With U." 

In 2010, she appeared in a sequel to "Why Did I Get Married?" Later that year, she led the ensemble cast of the film "For Colored Girls," which included Whoopi Goldberg, Thandie Newton, Kerry Washington, Phylicia Rashad and more.

Janet Jackson is now known as one of history's most successful and influential pop stars. (Getty Images  / Getty Images)

In addition to acting, music and touring, Jackson became an accomplished author in 2011, when she released the book "True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself," which she co-wrote with David Ritz. The book became a New York Times bestseller.


In 2015, Jackson released another studio album, "Unbreakable," which featured "No Sleeep," "BURNITUP!" and "Dammn Baby." In 2019, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

To this day, Jackson's success has maintained, as the docuseries played well on Lifetime and she currently boasts 5.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Per Celebrity Net Worth, Jackson is worth $180 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.