1. She’s got the hits. If you consider Janet Jackson’s October 14 concert at Mandalay Bay Events Center as an audition for a Las Vegas residency—perhaps at MGM Resorts’ sister venue, the Park Theater—then she gets the gig based on the music alone. After opening with Rhythm Nation tracks “The Knowledge” and “State of the World,” she reeled off a series of medleys that crammed a lot of hits into short periods of time, including “Nasty,” “Miss You Much,” “Control,” “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “Escapade” and “When I Think of You.” A more sultry section followed, featuring “Twenty Foreplay” and “The Body That Loves You,” inspiring quite a bit of grooving and grinding on the packed events center floor. Such a body of work would make any Janet residency larger than life and as iconic as that of Celine, Elton and Mariah.
2. She’ll fit in. As a first-time mom at age 51, Ms. Jackson sounds great and looks amazing. Her current State of the World tour is filling in the blanks to make up for shows she’s had to cancel in recent years, which made the Mandalay Bay concert feel that much more special; who knows when we’ll see her onstage again? If MGM were to sign her up for the Park Theater, she’d be an ideal fit with existing resident performers Bruno Mars (32), Ricky Martin (45) and Cher (71), all instantly recognizable pop artists with legions of fans. But Janet has something they don’t …
3. Everybody loves her. Saturday night offered the most diverse concert audience I’ve ever seen in Las Vegas, and I doubt there’s a current Strip headliner that can hang with Janet in this regard. For example, Elton John’s “Million Dollar Piano” show at the Colosseum—which I witnessed a few days earlier—packs them in and satisfies thoroughly, one of the all-time great Vegas shows. There were different people from all over the world sitting around me at Caesars, but the crowd was distinctly older. Janet drew all ages, all colors, all shapes and sizes. In fact, her audience was just as diverse as her group of dancers.
4. She’s got the moves. When she busted out the classic choreography from her iconic videos for “If” and “Rhythm Nation” late in the show, the crowd exploded, and rightfully so. These are unforgettable pop music moments brought to life. The new era of Vegas residencies are all about turning the live music experience into a dance party, and Janet does that effortlessly. A full-scale production with all the bells and whistles could certainly challenge the current choreography champions on the Strip—in my opinion, the Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin shows.
5. She deserves it. Jackson has too much great music to present in one concert tour. A residency would allow her to blend hits from the past with newer material, and explore a deeper musical narrative like she’s doing with “What About,” a song addressing domestic violence issues. She could further freshen up favorites, like she’s doing by mashing up “That’s the Way Love Goes” with Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat.” She can keep on giving her fans what they want, which is essentially a lot more Janet.