MUSIC: AND AN UPDATED JANET

R -and-B. dance diva Janet Jackson, like a really successful software program, has been steadily issuing updated versions of herself over the years. Janet 1.0 was tentative, but Janet 2.0 asserted her identity on Control (1986). On Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989) Janet 3.0 began to address social issues (her solutions: dancing and uniforms). Finally, on janet., her 1993 CD, Janet 4.0 adopted a bohemian, just-kicking-it-at-a-Brooklyn-house-party cool, posing on the back cover with jeans unzipped and midriff bare, her body ready for anything.

The latest Janet, on her new album The Velvet Rope, is omnivorous, sexually and musically: folk, hip-hop, man, woman,...