Janet Jackson performed a medley of past hits at tonight’s Billboard Music Awards, where she also received the Icon Award in recognition of her long and illustrious recording career. Jackson joins the ranks of legendary artists who’ve received the award, including Prince, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, and Cher. To mark the occasion, she performed her iconic 1986 hit “Nasty” and Janet.‘s “If” and “Throb,” featuring elaborate choreography from a crowd of creatively dressed backing dancers. Tonight’s performance marks the first time Jackson has performed on television in about nine years. In her subsequent acceptance speech, Jackson referenced the #MeToo movement, voicing her support for “women [who] have made it clear that they will no longer be controlled, manipulated or abused.”
Jackson has been a chart mainstay throughout her career, racking up about 32 million total album sales, including number-one albums in four consecutive decades, and placing 40 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, including 10 number-one hits. Her most recent album, Unbreakable, was released in 2015. She’s also won 10 Billboard Awards, including the inaugural Top Female Artist award in 1990 and Top Pop Album for Rhythm Nation the same year.
In recent days, we’ve learned Jackson is supposedly hard at work on new music that may address her new life as a first-time mother, but she hasn’t divulged any specifics yet. She is also gearing up for her State of the World U.S. tour, which kicks off this July and includes festival appearances at Panorama, Essence Fest, and Outside Lands. To mark her Icon Award win, Jackson appeared on the most recent cover of Billboard magazine.
Watch her Icon Award acceptance speech and performance at the 2018 BBMAs below.