Is Janet Jackson suffering from illness or a mid-life career slump?

It’s been over a week since Janet Jackson suddenly canceled several of her concerts, blaming the rapid onset of a still-unexplained mystery illness. Since then she’s supposedly shown up for several of her sound checks but had to cancel every time because she still wasn’t better. Everyone’s got the right to keep their medical issues private, but when thousands of people are repeatedly put out like that, it’s natural to wonder what’s going on. As yet, Jackson hasn’t bothered to give any explanation more specific than the celebrity version of “the dog ate my homework.”

However ABC’s Luchina Fisher has a pretty good theory exactly what malady is plaguing Jackson. “Mid-life career slump” as she puts it.

Is it vertigo, as her brother Randy reportedly said last week, or is Janet suffering from an ailment more common to aging ’90s pop stars: a mid-life career slump? At 42, Jackson is certainly not the only middle-age female pop star rocking the concert circuit. Just look at Madonna, 50, whose “Sticky and Sweet” tour is virtually sold out and getting rave reviews. Or Tina Turner, who is about to embark on another tour at nearly age 69.

Why does Jackson, seemingly the most stable of the Jackson clan, appear to be losing her footing? “Her music hasn’t really evolved as she has aged as a person, said Jonathan Cohen, a senior editor at Billboard magazine. “She’s still doing the sex kitten thing, which, at 42, really isn’t believable.”

[Jackson family friend known only as Phoenix says] “They are pulling out due to bad ticket sales. Janet might have been one of the greatest pop icons in her time. But Janet Jackson, at 42 years old, does not have the same appeal as in ’89 with ‘Rhythm Nation.’ Other artists took that throne — Ashanti and Beyonce. This is what you call a publicity stunt.”

Janet’s latest album “Discipline” – which was supposed to be her big comeback – hasn’t even sold 500,000 copies.

[From ABC News]

I think Jonathan Cohen hit the nail on the head when he said, “Her music hasn’t really evolved as she has aged as a person.” That is absolutely correct. Even the look of the clothes Jackson is wearing screams 1989. She looks like one of the backup singers from Jem and the Holograms. A stale look combined with a stale sound is a bad combination. It’s such a cliché and I get so tired of hearing it, but it’s correct: Madonna stays relevant because she is constantly reinventing herself. Janet hasn’t done anything new since “janet.” which was in 1993. Everything she did afterward sounded like she was pulling from the discards of various old CDs.

I’m guessing Janet is suffering some anxiety attacks or something of that nature. She might be canceling as a power play but that seems so petty and unprofessional that I’m sure it would do more harm than good. She needs to come out with a fresh look and a killer, unusual show – to remind everyone exactly why they should give her a shot again.

Note by Celebitchy: While I understand the skepticism, I think people should give Jackson the benefit of the doubt. She may indeed be having medical problems and, as often happens, doctors might not know what’s wrong yet and that’s why she hasn’t issued a statement. It’s unfair to speculate that she’s having some sort of psychological problem. Vertigo can happen for a lot of reasons and it’s very disabling. It’s also frustrating to go to doctors when you’re sick like that and it usually takes a while to get a diagnosis. I feel for her and hope she pulls through this. Now is not the time to criticize her career and I doubt she would pull out of so many concerts without a legitimate reason.

Janet Jackson is shown performing in Rosemont, IL on 9/25/08. Credit: Adam Bielawski / PR Photos

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22 Responses to “Is Janet Jackson suffering from illness or a mid-life career slump?”

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  1. geronimo says:

    Mid-life career slump would be my non-medical diagnosis. Or Bad Ticket Sales Anxiety which could pass as a medical condition. So both.

  2. RAN says:

    Judging by the looks of that outfit, it’s a career crisis or a midlife crisis. Seriously, who in their right mind wears stuff like that anymore? JB is right, she hasn’t evolved, she still thinks and acts like “Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty”

  3. SeVen says:

    I liked her early music, but given the fact shes as famous as BritBrit for Lip syncing its no wonder. I do hope she feels better soon and comes out with something edgy yet fitting for her.

  4. gg says:

    She’s suffering from that awful hairdo and outfit, if you ask me.

  5. momgeek says:

    I’ve been a huge Janet fan since janet. In all honesty, everything since “All For You” in 2001 has been shit. Each album (save for a few tracks on DamitaJo) has been comprised of breathy, techno-beat, “baby-making” songs. While I’ve bought each album to have a complete collection, I haven’t listened to any all the way through more than once. In contrast, I had to buy a new Velvet Rope CD when I wore the first one out :|

    The problem is Janet’s music has gone from what she does best (Pop with a splash of R&B and Soul) to trying to be like the over synthesized crap being churned out from untalented “artists” nowadays. She needs to go back to working with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; now that was a “dream team”.

    Perhaps she’s pregnant; perhaps she’s depressed; perhaps she pre-menopausal. I feel bad for the fans that forked out major $$$ to see her only to be let down like that. I’m not sure I would’ve gone to see her even if I’d had the money; all the outfits/hairstyles I’ve seen are horrendous.

  6. Mandalyn says:

    Jem and the Holograms! Fantastic!

    She is truly outrageous. :-)

  7. Darlene says:

    I had vertigo for two weeks at the end of the summer. I thought I might die – I almost wished to die! – because it is so disorienting and debilitating. Simple things like turning my head to look at something too quickly could set me off and I would be sick for hours. If she has vertigo, I wish her a speedy recovery. I am so glad we got a handle on mine. At least I only had to cancel a few yoga classes, not a whole concert!!!

  8. Janet Fan forever says:

    I happen to be a fan of Janet’s who also had one of my shows cancelled show. As disappointed as I was I’m not mad at her. If she’s sick she’s sick what more can she do? Once she’s better she’ll make up the dates. She would not cancel for the sake of cancelling. Janet wouldn’t do that to her fans and anyone that is one knows that!! And if it is Vertigo (which has not been confirmed by her) it is very debilitating. Look at all she does on stage there is no way she can perform. Get well Janet and as always the haters will hate! I’ll see you soon ;)

  9. Steven says:

    Of course it is ticket sales. Who the heck cares about Janet Jackson anymore? Her “music” absolutely sucks, and she looks like someone in their 40′s going to a Halloween party dressed as Janet Jackson in the 80′s. There are many other much more talented “divas” out there with records that actually sound good. Janet Jackson should just do everyone a favor, stop the tour and stop wasting everyone’s time.

  10. Lisa says:

    I was lucky to see Janet in Oakland before she cancelled tour and she was AMAZING. Close to full arena, and her stamina was impressive. Dancing throughout almost the entire show. My thought was, how is she gonna keep this up for an entire tour? Her shows are amazing, and as to having current hits, her fans don’t care, we are perfectly happy seeing her perform both old and new songs. Many artists don’t make hits anymore but still tour and some bring in more tour $$$ than some of those currently in the game…

  11. Jonny Boy says:

    Man oh man, some people are so stupid. Shame on celebitchy for even posting the story then disclaiming it. That’s stupid. Why even post it? Send the bad message then apologize? Stupid. And all you haters need to quit. I saw the show in Vancouver and…wow, amazing. Noone does it like Janet. Madonna is lame, can’t dance, and I don’t need to see her pilates moves on stage, thank you very much. She can sing, but her shows are stale. Janet reinvented her show and it was incredible. Loved her from day one, always have, always will. If you don’t like her music, chances are you don’t love music at all..especially not hip hop or r&b. And the posters are right, she would never cancel because of ticket sales. And I quote, “this tour is for the fans.” She loves touring. So my guess is she’s legitimately ill. If it is vertigo, she’d fall off the stage if she tried to perform. LOL Some people don’t think before posting their stupid comments. Later haters.

  12. jt says:

    you know, i thought JONNY BOY had some points until he wrote: “If you don’t like her music, chances are you don’t love music at all.” Ridiculous, lame, and written by an overzealous Janet fan with blinders on. You, Jonny, just blew your entire argument with that one.

  13. ShayWood says:

    Sumone asked “who cares for Janet Jackson”? Well I do and if you have ever been taught by mommmy and daddy well you would know and be knowledable on the fact that Janet shaped those supposed “artists” that u waste your time listening to! She has been the Innovator/Mentor for the females out here as well as Michael has been the Innovator for the males. Never ever forget who are the originators and who started all this “Entertainment” in the first place! Maybe you and all the others hater need to go read a book or how bout going to watch MTV’s ICON: Janet Jackson honor show that was created for her committment at making history for you and I. Or just go fumble around in her “Design of a Decade” cd..u will learn just from that on why she’s a Legend SCHOOLING YOU! So sit back, shut up and learn! THAT GOES FOR EVERYONE!

  14. THE FACTS! says:

    When she first started canceling dates I thought it was do to lack of interest and the tour not making any money. But then I checked her concert stats at and she was averaging 850,000 a night! Her LA and LV concerts grossed over a million so clearly people are going to her show. She’s become such an easy target since the superbowl that folks just assume her concerts must be selling poor which is actually not the case. I know the public tends to be skeptical of anything celebs do these days but maybe Janet really is sick. Who ever wrote the above articles need to check their facts because janets tour is doing fine. or at least it was before she started canceling.

  15. I’m just going to throw this out there…

    She’s probably knocked up.

  16. Megan says:

    Jonny Boy- Yeah, that’s right it, it’s Madonna who has the lame shows, not Janet. That’s why Madonna consistently has the top grossing tours and is on her way to breaking her last record with this one. I think the term for her concerts is “Sold Out”. Stop feeling the need to dis Madonna to try and defend Janet. I do like Janet as well as Madonna, but I don’t put Janet down to build Madonna up (though, I would never need to because Madonna kicks ass).

  17. shananignz says:

    I love Janet and her music, always have, but she looks like she’s doing the broadway version of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome as Tina Turners Aunty Entity character.

  18. pinkiepie says:

    Janet always looks a bit constipated and very uncomfortable in her clothes. She looks like a German bratwurst stuffed into the casing of a breakfast sausage link. She really hasnt updated her style or her music in 20 yrs and she is grasping onto the former glory she had. Why can the Jacksons not just fade away graciously?

  19. lola lola says:

    I’ve got her legitimate reason: a hideous yellow jumpsuit and barb-wire belt. That would make anybody sick. It makes me sick just to look at it.

  20. mav says:

    i just have to say if you have a chance to see this concert, take it! it is an amazing show. as someone stated above, i too was wondering how she is going to do this night after night. i love janet. people are so bitter and judgemental.

  21. aw! says:

    She got a case of forkitis again. She looks like she’s put on about 30 pounds. No wonder she doesn’t want to get on stage.

  22. Jeanne says:

    Same damn dance moves. Loved it in the 80′s but c’mon get a new groove going Janet. Sad how her and Michael ended up being one trick ponies. Maybe it’s time for another wardrobe malfunction.