WHO'S IN ''CONTROL,'' JANET?... It's less than two weeks until the new year and less than two months until Super Bowl XL. And who may return just in time for the game? No, Janet Jackson will not perform at the Super Bowl. Unofficially she's likely banned for life. But Billboard reports a new single from Jackson should also touch down in February, to be followed by a new album later in the spring. Her longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have helped Jackson create a small tribute for the album that honors her exuberant breakthrough, Control -- next year will mark the 20th anniversary of that album's release.
But has Jackson learned her lesson after Damita Jo became the artist's first non-chart-topper on Billboard, and her first non-platinum-seller -- with sales just shy of one million copies -- since before Control? It's an open question, and no, the lesson isn't just that she shouldn't appear at the Super Bowl or ''accidentally'' reveal too much of her body. Sales for Damita Jo were seriously hampered by that controversy, certainly. But sales were hurt even more by too few alluring songs and the album's lackluster energy. It was also her first album in a long while for which Jam and Lewis did not serve as executive producers alongside Jackson, or co-produce every track. I'm not saying the fault lies with Jackson's boyfriend, Virgin Urban president Jermaine Dupri, who took the reins as executive producer on Damita Jo. But that is an obvious possibility. And since Jackson has brought him back as the producer for the new set, we'll soon see if it happens again. Let's hope not....
BLOWOFF BLOWS UPSTAIRS... The coming new year will also bring new digs for Bob Mould and Rich Morel's indie-poptacular Blowoff event. Beginning Saturday, Jan. 14, Blowoff will move from the basement bar at the 9:30 Club to upstairs in the celebrated concert venue's main stage, the site of two previous special-edition Blowoffs. In addition to holding more people, the move also allows Mould and Morel to perform indie-dance songs they've created together in between their usual energetic, eclectic sets. The bigger, better Blowoff will now happen every month on strategic Saturdays at least until June, when a Pride Blowoff will occur on the 10th.
Meanwhile, both Mould and Morel have been hard at work on another of their side jobs, making dance remixes -- the latest of which they usually play at Blowoff. And both have contributed the only remixes worth listening to from two different artists. Mould has recently turned in a thumping, bass-heavy Loud Bomb Mix of VHS or Beta's instrumental ''Solid Gold,'' which appears on the otherwise forgettable funkster-band's new EP Le Funk. And Morel has remixed twice Le Tigre's latest single, ''After Dark.'' Appearing on This Island Remixes with other versions of the song as well as two others drawn from the feminist dance-pop band's major-label debut, Morel's Pink Noise Dub is superior to all the rest, including his predictable Vocal Mix. He includes more vocals here than in a usual ''dub,'' and it throbs with an intense sexual hunger that suits the pleading lyrics and any dance floor, after dark....
DANCE LIKE A KING, QUEENS... Issuing dance compilations that honor and create a marketable identity for popular clubs or events seems to be a growing trend in the business, though except for circuit party compilations it hasn't really been acted on -- in the states, that is -- outside of New York or New York South, otherwise known as Miami. Maybe that will change soon with, say, a Blowoff or a Lizard Lounge set. But the latest to arrive honors Pacha, the celebrated Spanish-based dance entertainment chain. (Pacha loosely translates as ''the king's life.'') And it comes just in time: Pacha NYC, co-owned by DJ Erick Morillo, just opened in the historic space formerly occupied by Sound Factory. It is said to feature one of the best sound systems in the world, and it will be put to its first gay test Jan. 1. Saint-At-Large will host its annual New Year's Day Night event featuring DJs David Knapp and Chris Cox taking turns spinning in the ''floating DJ booth'' that is based in the exact center of the dance floor (for more information, visit www.saintatlarge.com).
Pure Pacha 2005 features a disc mixed by one of dance music's most popular DJs, Pete Tong, and another by Pacha Ibiza resident DJ Sarah Main. It's a solid compilation, with an emphasis on melodies that get ''stuck in my mind,'' as goes a line in Main's opening track, ''Fiesta'' by Kerri Chandler. Both discs are equally great, launching with casual sun-splashed disco grooves before getting darker, stronger and faster as they go. Included are some of the year's best dance tracks, several of which you may not know yet. There's Chab's brooding Depeche Mode-worthy ''Closer to Me,'' and DJ Remo's hardcore beauty ''Empire,'' with tour-de-force Prince-flavored vocals from Chelonis R. Jones. And there's also Murk's remix of Lee Coombs' ''Shiver.'' Murk, the Miami duo of Oscar G. and Ralph Falcon, draw out the shivers that Katherine Ellis sings about through constantly repeating, pulsating keystrokes and several windy swooshes. ''I'm living on the edge of your love, someone should taunt me down,'' Ellis sings. And Murk does the job....