Janet Jackson has released a new single and accompanying video, her first in three years. The song is “Made for Now”. This is the first thing I listened to when I woke up this morning, angry at my phone for going off at 5am even though that’s when I told it to go off last night. Like you, probably, it’s been a long week, I’ve had a lot to manage at home, at work, at everywhere. I wasn’t feeling it. Until I opened the alert, the JANET JANET JANET alert. And it was an instant mood change. More than a mood change, it’s practically a personality change. That’s the power of music and it’s always been the power of Janet Jackson over me. So many of her songs reach right into my bloodstream and change the chemistry of my feelings and I imagine it’s the same for so many of her fans, so many of you. 

All my girls at the party 
Look at his body
Shakin’ that thing like I never did see

What happens to your body when you hear those words? You start moving right? And you start smiling. That’s Janet. Janet makes you smile. Sometimes it’s a sad but hopeful smile – “Together Again”. Sometimes it’s a straight up sex smile: how many of us have smirked and dipped our chins and made eye contact with someone over the shoulder as soon as the first bars of “That’s the Way Love Goes” start playing? And other times you’re smiling because it’s fun. Because it’s Friday, because it’s just time to let loose. That’s “All For You” and “Escapade” and now “Made for Now”.  

I got out of bed because of “Made for Now”. I danced down the stairs to turn on my laptop because of “Made for Now”. I loved every minute of writing today’s “yellow” open because of “Made for Now”. There is no time for crustiness when this song is playing. There is only time for NOW – which is what Janet is doing here in the video. It’s a block party featuring Daddy Yankee and dancers from Ghana, Nigeria, Grenada, Trinidad, and the US, recruited by Janet and her creative director, all of them moving up and down the neighbourhood, from the streets to the rooftops and everywhere in between. As Kathleen wrote a few weeks ago when Janet was seen filming it in New York, Janet is showcasing and celebrating diversity and creativity. It’s an exuberant display of talent and tenacity. Why tenacity? Because happiness, too, can be radical. Finding joy is a goal of hope. And hope is the nemesis of oppression. 

Janet is here to uplift. Janet is here to make you happy. Which brings us back to that smile, that this song makes you smile. And has there ever been a smile as sweet as Janet’s? God I love her smile. It’s so wide, with limitless possibilities. That smile has been making us smile for over 30 years now. I think maybe we’ve underappreciated it. 

Janet and Daddy Yankee will be performing “Made for Now” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon tonight. This is officially my song of the summer. Summer is NOT over!