■ PJ00s+ Fifty-Seven. ■ Top Ten Albums. ■ Coronated. ■

So you didn't even look at the veto sheet this round?

Now I'm completely confused. Nevermind, I never said anything, have a lovely day, vote for my entry etc.


by @Sprockrooster
for Popjustice

This is the only album I bought in the U.S. So I will be commenting on that version here. How did I get the U.S. version you wonder? Well, I was there for a few months as part of a summer holiday along with my parents. I bought the album that summer to have some sort of memory from my stay in the U.S. I had no idea the album I choose to buy was this good. I mean, it took off. This is not something only I loved, but because I bought it here made sure there was some sort of emotional connection. It always takes me back.


It was supposed to be the last holiday as a family together (but later we went on more, so it lost that status), so we had a final big one. Being the big tourist in the southwest area (Los Angeles / Las Vegas / San Francisco) and all the tourist highlights in between it was a beautiful holiday. It was also the first holiday we did as a family in three years’ time. My mother suffered from depression and anxiety in my teenage years and my father had to earn the money and maintain the household. Having this vacation was a moment to end that era as a family and move on. And we did. Loose does not embody that, but it will always be my album from that time.


I was 18 when it came out, so my sexual horizon was ready to be fully explored. And this sex driven record was fitting that lifestyle. I am not saying I was ‘Promiscuous’ or a ‘man-eater’, because it wasnot as extreme as all that. But having an album as this in your adolescent phase, when I am searching for my sexual identity this is definitely a fun and much needed play to connect easy with. But also the more serious notes as in ‘Say It Right’ and ‘All Good Things’ makes this album to have longevity. It balances the whole theme out and makes it a sonically and lyrically varied effort. But it went even further. I barely lisened to hiphop or RnB at the time and this album broke heavily with that tradition. I was a 90’s kid listening to so much rock and with the change of the millennium I grew to a more pop sound. Nelly Furtado pushed me even more with her urban sound into an even more eclectic music fan. Hearing this album in the summer made me fall in love easy with both ‘Te Busque’ ‘No Hay Igual’. They remain to be coming back in my summer playlist ever since.


It is easy to call a fave track. Say It Right takes that crown as it is in a different league. A 12 when I would score this album on a scale from 0-10. But as the most underappreciated track, I would go with ‘Afraid’. It was never a single, and though I approve every single choice, this one always felt like the one that has been sadly overlooked to get that treatment. I would recommend with no hesitation ‘Maneater’. A pop jam and I am sure most of you know it. But in case you did not, you are truly missing out and I am very jealous. Envious even, to hear that track for the first time.



Staff member
I think the only ones I haven't heard so far are the Sigur Rós and Darren Hayes ones. I've been meaning to check the former for years though.

Speaking of albums, I actually own four which appear in the song list. I think this round I could fill a ballot just with songs I already knew, which I don't think is something that had ever happened before.
The way I’m struggling to NOT make my top nine all songs I already know and I haven’t even looked at what’s not on Spotify yet… let’s just say I’m very happy the top ten albums rule exists.

(Three of those songs were in my potentials list for a relaxed round and five of them would easily get a 10 from me in a regular rate because I absolutely HAMMERED them back in the day.)

EDIT: I’ve just realised I know twenty-two of the artists in this round (and this doesn’t include artists I’ve heard of through PJ00s+). The number of flop album campaigns that got pushed hard on UK radio back in the day…
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by Aimee Cliff
for Fader

Back To Black depicts a woman struggling with temptation, misery, and loneliness. Though it’s told — and was promoted — in the context of heartbreak, the album is actually more self-reflexive; it’s not just a woman singing to an ex-lover, but a woman wrestling with herself. Back To Black describes depression, addiction, and self-sabotage, in ways that are startlingly unusual for a Grammy-winning, chart-topping, 21st century pop record. (What other recent number one single by a woman contained a line like, I’m gonna lose my baby/ So I always keep a bottle near?) It’s important to acknowledge the singular way Back To Black treads this dark territory despite — perhaps even because of — what happened to Winehouse after its release.


Winehouse didn’t sugarcoat things. On Back To Black, her storytelling slices through the jangling ‘60s pop melodies with frank observations that feel bone-deep and real. (He said, “I just think you’re depressed”/ This me, yeah baby, and the rest.) She speaks of truly disquieting feelings through songs you can turn up loud and belt out in your car; like the realization that rejection is only one part of your problems. (Why do I stress the man/ When there’s so many bigger things at hand?) She leaves her body, and looks at herself with cool objectivity. (She’s so vacant, her soul is taken,/ He thinks, what’s she running from?) Back To Black contains no true optimism or solution. There are moments of clarity, but no epiphany. Discounting “Addicted,” a bonus track about annoying dudes who smoke all of your weed, Winehouse’s final words on the album are: He tries to pacify her, but what’s inside her never dies.
These lyrics are worth noting, not to make a spectacle of Winehouse’s suffering, but to shine a light on her truly original songwriting.


In the footage unearthed for Amy, she spoke frankly about how music was her therapy for depression; the subject material was genuine, and that honestly was palpable. Winehouse’s longtime producer Salaam Remi told Billboard that this was part of her bond with the rapper Nas. “They had a mutual respect for what was real,” he said. Winehouse, whose idols were Donny Hathaway and Billie Holliday, was a truly distinctive pop writer of her time.
It’s that searing narrative voice that makes Back To Black unique, and that can’t be replicated in posthumous compilation releases like Lioness: Hidden Treasures or the Amy soundtrack. Winehouse was not just a stadium-filling vocal, or a vessel for covers and standards. She was a storyteller, whose best work hit deep. Her beehive might have been read as a caricature, but her substance was true. She made art about dealing with dark days; about crying too hard and drinking too much. In a stiff-upper-lip British culture where mental health is not openly discussed, she put her own issues squarely in the middle of the charts.
I want to believe that, as a society, we’re getting better at conversations about mental health. The film Amy itself forced us to reflect on the role the press and the public had in Winehouse’s own demise, a reflection that we can hope will have a lasting impact.


Remembering Back To Black as a brilliant pop album, a brave story battling depression, and a rare combination of the two, is difficult but necessary. It’s difficult to remember what happened to Winehouse in plain view of us all, how consumption of her explicit pains makes us complicit in her death; but remembering is essential, to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Winehouse deserves to be remembered as a truly groundbreaking artist, rather than a tragic story. This collection of empathetic, raw songs lives on as the worthiest treasure she could have left behind: an album you can blast on blue days, to make you feel a little less alone. “Tears Dry On Their Own” is the kind of bitter yet joyful song that I’ve turned to at low moments. Its tambourine shake helps me move again, even as it speaks plainly to loneliness and self-destruction. (I shouldn’t play myself again/ I should just be my own best friend.) Sometimes, that’s exactly the comfort you need.

Finished listening to the song list last night and... I have 11 entries shortlisted. Definitely lower compared to the usual PJ00s+ round but at least it should be easy to compile my ballot.

My impression of this round was that it feels a lot like something I imagine the first rounds of PJSC sounded like. A lot of you seemed to bait the host too, intentionally or not - heaps of male vocals (perhaps that could explain the amount of songs on my shortlist dd). There was also a bit of last round's "theme" residue, quite a few quirkier tunes this time.
And only one FL entry! I can't recall the last time there were barely any of these.

by Jaelani Turner-Williams
for Stereogum

The album is both wondrous and intimate; starting with an intro featuring a lighthearted studio conversation between Jackson, Jam, and Lewis, various outtakes and chats between the three are woven throughout the album.
After blasting a former friend on industrial opener “You Ain’t Right,” Jackson launches into a carefree spirit on the album’s title track. Jackson was age-defying in the animated e-girl visuals for “All For You,” which became one of the biggest hits of a career filled with them.
Despite Jackson’s personal hurdles, the essence of All For You was optimistic in a time where R&B and pop post-breakup albums were often forlorn.

The album was genre-shifting with ample production experimentation, a far cry from the deep house grooves and R&B-lite of Jackson’s previous albums. All that sonic exploration included at least one wrong turn: “China Love” is titled in a cringeworthy manner that would probably make a Harajuku Girl-era Gwen Stefani blush. And as pointed out in a brief New York Times album review, while the delicate chimes and tablas on “China Love” are Asian-inspired, the song is named after the wrong country: “A gamelan sample peals through ‘China Love’ (and Ms. Jackson doesn’t care that gamelans are Indonesian).”


In her 2002 concert film Janet: Live In Hawaii, the latter part of the show cuts to a risque performance of erotic deep cut “Would You Mind?” Strapping a male audience member to a rotating table as she teasingly straddles him, the fan hyperventilates while a catsuit-donning Jackson transforms into a NSFW dominatrix. Jackson continued her dominating streak on “Son Of A Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You),” a darkly humored collaboration with Carly Simon incorporating Simon’s ’70s hit “You’re So Vain,” where Jackson inexplicably goes after her ex-husband with ominous lyrics: “Oh, who you gonna give it to?/ Who you gonna steal it from?/ Who’s your next victim?/ Oh, who you gonna lie to?/ Who you gonna cheat on?/ Who you gonna leave alone?” The tag-team effort between Simon and Jackson is unfitting as Simon struggles to pace her rap towards the end of the song. On the redeemable “Son Of A Gun” remix, campy hip-hop darling Missy Elliott replaces Simon and the music video shows Jackson torturing a former lover, summoning zombies and ravenous spiders.


Jackson drops her relationship baggage on the country-tinged “Someone To Call My Lover.” The track glistens with a guitar loop from America’s “Ventura Highway” and a piano interpolation of “Gymnopédie No. 1” by French composer Erik Satie. As legend tells it, Jackson rediscovered the Satie composition at a Ralph Lauren store, first hearing it in a commercial as a child. “Someone To Call My Lover” reconnected Jackson with her unworried childhood as she sought new love. Recorded for Nutty Professor II (hence the “nutty-nutty-nutty for me” chorus), “Doesn’t Really Matter” is a glowing rhapsody that streamlines electropop and R&B. At $2.5 million, the futuristic Japanese-inspired Joseph Kahn visuals made for one of the most expensive music video productions ever.


As All For You debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200, an unapologetic Jackson made a grand closing on her marriage while remaining a pop powerhouse. At the time, the album seemed like one more triumph in a career full of them, but in hindsight it stands as the end of her imperial phase. Even though Jackson remains a living legend, ever since her 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” debacle alongside Timberlake, the remainder of her catalog hasn’t reached the same blockbuster levels as her previous albums. Still, Jackson’s career evolution has been a testament to her staying power and influence across genres and current girl power acts like Tinashe, Normani, and Victoria Monet. Twenty years later, MTV could easily put together a whole new special spotlighting another generation of pop stars inspired by Janet, many of whom probably grew up on All For You.

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