[italic]janet.[/italic] is the fifth studio album by Janet Jackson, released on May 18, 1993, by Virgin Records America. Prior to its release, Jackson was at the center of a high-profile bidding war over her recording contract. In 1991, her original label A&M sought to renew her contract, while others, such as Atlantic, Capitol, and Virgin all vied to sign her. After meeting with Virgin owner Richard Branson, she signed with the label. The contract was worth an estimated $40 million, making her the world's then-highest paid musical act.
In the United States, Janet became the singer's third consecutive album to top the Billboard 200 and her first to debut at number one. Selling 350,000 copies in its first week, it set a record for the highest first week sales for a female artist at that time. Certified sixfold platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), it has sold over seven million copies in the US according to Nielsen SoundScan. Internationally, Janet topped the record charts in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom, and has sold an estimated 14 million copies worldwide.
Janet remains one of only seven albums in history to produce six top-ten hits on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, including the number-one singles "That's the Way Love Goes" and "Again". The MTV-sponsored Janet World Tour supporting the album received critical acclaim for Jackson's elaborate stage performances, reinforcing her reputation as one of the preeminent artists of the MTV generation. Janet cemented her as an international icon and sex symbol, and is listed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 200 Definitive Albums of All Time. Academics argued the erotic imagery in her music videos have contributed to a higher degree of sexual freedom among women.
Janet debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. It was the first a female artist debuted at number one since the start of the SoundScan era; with the largest first week sales in history for a female artist at the time with 350,000 units sold in its first week. The album also earned worldwide success, debuting at number one in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. It also debuted in the top 10 in Sweden, The Netherlands, Canada (with 65,000 copies sold at the first week and Switzerland. In Germany the album peaked at number five and charted for 49 total weeks, becoming Jackson's longest charting album.
Janet was first certified gold by the RIAA on August 8, 1993, denoting 500,000 units shipped within the United States. The same day, the album's certification was raised to 3× platinum, denoting 3,000,000 units shipped. On November 17, 1993, Janet received 4× platinum certification and was later awarded 5× platinum on December 17, 1993. The following year on April 12, 1994, the album was certified 6× platinum. It was the second best selling album of 1993 in United States with 4.3 million copies sold, behind The Bodyguard soundtrack and was the biggest selling album by a solo artist. Within seven months of release the album had sold over ten million copies worldwide. Other certifications include a Double Gold certification in France, a 2× Platinum certification in the UK And Australia, a Platinum in New Zealand and a Gold certification in Norway.