Prudish is actually too mild a word for how repressed the American media are. Janet Jackson, on the other hand…
[Janet Jackson's] long career has been all about asserting control - wresting it either from record companies eager to sell her as a pop puppet, or from her domineering father Joe - and sex has been her method of achieving this. On Nasty (from Control), she made explicit her refusal to be portrayed as demure; on If (from 1993's Janet), the phallic imagery left little to the imagination; Would You Mind (from 2001's All for You) should have had a parental advisory sticker with its lyrics about how she was going to "kiss you, suck you, taste you, ride you/ Feel you deep inside me ooh".
Jackson is shocked that people are still, well, shocked by her forthright approach.
"Discipline is no different than the previous albums," she suggests, "but I notice that people are paying more attention to this one in the way it's being rated as more sexual than the other. But the Janet album was very much like that. Or even Rope Burn [from 1997's Velvet Rope] where I talked about blindfolds and being tied up. Or Would You Mind: there were no metaphors whatsoever used in that song. I remember Jimmy [Jam, producer] read the lyrics and went, 'Whoa, okay!' I'm just being honest and telling you how I feel. Discipline is nothing new. I'm surprised [at people's reactions]. It's, like, what's the big deal? On If, when I say, 'Your smooth and shiny feels good against my lips' - it's like, what else could it possibly be talking about?"
The American press, she decides, is far more prudish than its British counterpart - "We need to catch up with you guys because we're just butthole backwards," she says - and is taken aback by recent reports in the States that she's been promoting group sex without even realising.
"Isn't that something?" she almost giggles. "A journalist brought up a threesome, and I said, 'I mention threesomes on this album?' - which I don't think I do. And then I said - and I honestly meant it - if a person is into that, that's their business. There are people who swing, couples who swing. So why are people hounding me about a threesome?"[Click to read more 'Fame can be addictive. But not for me' | Pop | guardian.co.uk Music]