In one of the most iconic covers in the magazine's history, Rolling Stone features a topless Jackson (hands courtesy of husband Elizondo), along with a headline that proclaims "Janet Jackson: The Joy of Sex." Among the story's revelations: "Sex isn't just fire and heat, it's natural beauty," she tells the magazine. "Good sex is also linked with losing yourself, releasing, using your body to get out of your body."
In their first collaboration since she sang backup on Thriller's "P.Y.T.," Jackson and her late brother Michael team up for the angry rocker "Scream," the first single from his HIStory album. The video for the single costs $7 million to produce, making it the most expensive undertaking of its kind. The big budget will pay off the following year when "Scream" wins a Grammy for Best Short Form Video.
Jackson releases her most introspective album to date, The Velvet Rope, citing depression as a factor in the recording process. "That was a tough album to make for her," producer Jimmy Jam says to EW. "You feel like the walls are closing in on you, and you can't escape," Jackson says to the magazine. "That was happening to me during Velvet Rope, and I just felt like there was no way out."
Jackson starts dating hip-hop producer Jermaine Dupri. "I've never had anyone who looks at me and just loves me," she tells GIANT in 2006, "and he's the only one I've ever even thought about having kids with." In 2009, they reportedly split.
In the incident that puts the term "wardrobe malfunction" in the national consciousness, Jackson performs with Timberlake at halftime for Super Bowl XXXVIII in front of more than 100 million television viewers. At the end of their live duet, Timberlake rips part of Jackson's top off, exposing her right breast, which is partially covered by a starburst-shaped decoration and piercing. While both performers maintain the exposure was unintentional, the public reaction is intense, and Jackson withdraws from the following Sunday's Grammy Awards ceremony.
Giving her first interview since the Super Bowl incident, Jackson appears on Late Night With David Letterman, telling him, "Dave, you're going to make me relive this. I want to put all that behind me." But in order to promote her new album, Damita Jo, Jackson endures the publicity tour, but it doesn't help record sales. The album, which sells three million copies worldwide, is Jackson's lowest-charting since 1984's Dream Street.
Jackson drops a reported 60 pounds, crediting the dramatic shape-shifting to a regimen of healthy eating and hardcore workouts. "I could not believe how big I was, how heavy I really was," the singer, 40, tells TV's Extra, in an interview promoting her new album 20 Y.O. "I would see myself in the mirror, but I wouldn't look too often. I didn't want to get used to that image."
After seven years away from the big screen, Jackson returns to acting – which she calls her first true love – with a starring role in writer-director Tyler Perry's box-office hit, Why Did I Get Married?. "She dispelled every myth I had about megasuperstars," Perry tells EW of the humble star, who returns for the 2010 sequel. "It was a lovefest."
After debuting her dance track, "Feedback," in late 2007, Jackson releases her latest album, Discipline. Rolling Stone raves, "All the amateur competition should just pack up their Webcams and go home." The best thing about her album? "It makes me want to dance and that's the nice thing," Jackson says. Fans agree, helping it debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling 181,000 copies.
Jackson's older brother Michael dies in L.A. after suffering an apparent cardiac arrest in his home. He was 50 years old. Only three days after his death, Jackson bravely makes an appearance with her father Joe at the BET Awards to speak on behalf of her family. "My entire family wanted to be here tonight but it was too painful," she says. "To you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family. He will forever live in all of hearts."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): amazon.com; Tammie Arroyo/AFF; Rhona Wise/Landov; amazon.com; Tony Cenicola/The New York Times; amazon.com; Ed Souza/UPI/Landov