When and if most people think back on the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, they recall Kanye West’s infamous interruption of Taylor Swift and Lil’ Mama’s audacious addition of herself to “Empire State of Mind”. Sadly, the amazing opening tribute to Michael Jackson featuring many of his own dancers and ending with sister Janet performing “Scream” with her brother’s on-screen image is often forgotten. It was an extremely well-executed and emotional performance (one that I would watch over and over on YouTube when I was still heavy in to my MJ-mourning period).
Janet has revived the virtual duet for her “Number Ones” tour, performing it at London’s Royal Albert Hall last week. She told CNN of her reticence to record the song in the first place: “I was on the Rhythm Nation tour and Mike actually asked me to do a song with him and I told him no. I didn’t want to do it. I felt I hadn’t come into my own and I hadn’t fully made a name for myself … and I didn’t want to ride anyone’s coattails,” she said. “And I remember being in the Janet Tour a few good years later and he asked me again if I would do a song with him. And I felt, at that point, I’d carved my own little niche in this world of music and I felt okay, I can do this now and that’s how it came about.”
While many of us would be too overcome with emotion to perform such a duet, Jackson says that it isn’t hard for her to get through the song. “It feels great — just listening to and hearing his voice,” she said, adding that on stage she finds herself, “remembering the experience of recording it.”
Check out Janet’s original “Scream” performance from 2009, just a few weeks after Michael’s death: