- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2001

Last March on MTV, Janet Jackson was saluted as an "icon" for her contribution to pop music. The influential cable channel may be right. It's been more than a decade since people thought of Miss Jackson as merely Michael Jackson's little sister.
She's sold nearly 50 million albums throughout the world during her 19-year recording career. Miss Jackson's dance-and R&B-flavored; singles dominate the Billboard charts, and she's credited as the inspiration for 21st-century top sellers Britney Spears and Destiny's Child. The acting career she began as a little girl on TV's "Good Times" has continued on the silver screen, most recently as Eddie Murphy's love interest in "Nutty Professor 2."
The multimedia phenomenon is also credited for ratcheting up consumers' expectations for arena concerts. The "Velvet Rope" tour and this year's "All For You" surrounds Miss Jackson with lavish sets and lissome dancers who expand the boundaries of athleticism.
The massive production value demands and commands a significant price. Tickets for the concerts at MCI Center tonight, tomorrow and Saturday sell for $37.75, $55.75 or $80.75. Miss Jackson constantly thanks the fans during her shows, and why not? She'll gross millions of dollars this summer and boost her status as one of the industry's top-earning live performers along with U2, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen.
Her most recent release, "All For You," celebrates her life as a single woman following the divorce from her second husband, collaborator and dancer Rene Elizondo. She's flirting in a club on the title track and exposing her carnality on "Come On Get Up" and the explicit "Would You Mind."
"My life has changed a great deal," Miss Jackson says in an interview released by her recording label, Virgin Records. "That's why there's a new, freer me. There will be a lot of new mes, and I look forward to meeting them all."
The new Miss Jackson might be all about having fun, but her tour hasn't mirrored her carefree attitude. The first date of her North American tour was rescheduled when a portion of her set didn't arrive on time in Vancouver, British Columbia. She also canceled a July 18 show in Milwaukee after she chipped a tooth and needed an emergency root canal, according to Viacom-owned music Web site sonicnet.com. A diva's life is never dull.

The guys in Southern California's Death By Stereo could easily find work as headline writers if their music career founders. The song titles on the group's latest record, "Day of the Death," burst with wit and sarcasm. There's "You Mess With One Bean, You Mess With The Whole Burrito," "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Salvation" and the top attention-grabber, "High School Was Like Boot Camp For A Desk Job."
It is the band's brutal punk and heavy metal crunch that sells tickets, not clever headlines. "A lot of our shows are mohawks and hard-core kids and metal dudes," singer Efrem Shultz told "Rockpile" magazine. Death By Stereo slashes like a T-rex in "Jurassic Park," but the anti-authoritarian furor embodied within the 11 songs won't rile up the masses until it's delivered in a more memorably tuneful package. The five angry men open for Good Riddance Sunday at Nation.

Swing and ska bands rely on rambunctious horn players, and both musical genres advanced from the fringes to the height of popular culture in the mid-'90s. The hype that surrounded these revivals has ended, but groups that prospered during the salad days soldier on this week at the 9:30 Club.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy became the "it" neo-swing band thanks to its role in the 1996 hipster film "Swingers." Favorites such as "You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 Tonight" and "I Wanna Be Like You" provide the backing tomorrow for the dancers in the crowd who will be displaying their best lindy hop and jitterbug moves. The next night, the local group the Pietasters returns with its showcase of chunky, '60s-soul-inspired ska beats.

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