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Janet Jackson vs. Missy Elliott: Two legends explode on ‘BURNITUP!’

(Janet Jackson)

Life is beautiful, the most recent evidence being a Friday-morning soundtrack by a new collaboration between Janet Jackson and Missy Elliott. The track, called “BURNITUP!,” is the most recent to arrive from Jackson’s forthcoming studio album, “Unbreakable,” which arrives Oct. 2.

The track is a tease not only for “Unbreakable” but for Elliott’s long-gestating new album. Over the past year, the rapper, whose breathtaking hit tracks starting in the late 1990s remain ridiculously funky, has said on multiple occasions that a new record was imminent. Like her best works — “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” “Work It,” “Get Ur Freak On,” “Pass That Dutch” — Elliott’s first new album in a decade will feature work with Timbaland.

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Elliott’s devoted fans got a joyful jolt earlier in the year at the Super Bowl through her surprise cameo with headliner Katy Perry. According to Nielsen Music, sales of Elliott’s music jumped 996% in the days following the halftime show performance. She followed that success with a tweeted confirmation that she’d be issuing new work sometime in 2015. “Me & @Timbaland bk 2 the drawing board studio dirty beats,” she wrote in February. (Time’s running out, Missy. Work it!) She also appeared on a remix of “Take ü There,” by the Skrillex and Diplo production project Jack ü.



But this is Jackson’s song, a truth evident the moment she arrives after an explosive Elliott introduction. Singing with a sweet delicacy eerily suggestive of her late brother Michael, Jackson on “BURNITUP!” phrases her words about dance-floor bliss with lowercase understatement.

The beefy ALL-CAP track that propels her voice takes the opposite approach. Produced by longtime Jackson hitmakers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis in collaboration with Dem Jointz, best-known for his work on four tracks on Dr. Dre’s new album “Compton” (including “Deep Water” and “Medicine Man”), “BURNITUP!” strives for heat.

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“Ain’t no sitting down, got to keep it up/ Me and Missy got the whole room jumping up,” brags Jackson. Elliott, never the most inventive lyricist, hardly shocks with her verbiage here. Near the end she does her best Pitbull impersonation, ordering would-be dance-floor revelers to get busy: “This your jam now do your dance!” Nope, not rocket science. But sizzling nonetheless.

Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit


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