Janet Jackson and producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are taking the singer's contribution to the "Chicago" soundtrack very seriously — and they're not the only ones.
"Harvey Weinstein actually flew into town the other night and we had a good meeting with him," Jam said of the Miramax chief who is producing the movie musical. "We're really trying to come up with something that is not only compatible with the movie — because obviously all the songs are already written in more of a 1920s style of music — but melding that in with something contemporary."
They don't have a title yet for the song, which will likely appear in the end credits of the ensemble film (see "Janet Jackson To Appear On LP With Mya ... And Richard Gere"), but Jam said they are well into a tune that is "hot and danceable."
"If you think about some of the sounds and videos that she's done, like the 'Alright' video with the zoot suit thing, or any of that, she's a girl that grew up on musicals," Jam explained from his Minneapolis studio on Monday. "It's important that we try to marry those types of things."
Before being curtailed by the "Chicago" song, Jackson was working on tracks for her next album with Jam and Lewis and even completed one song, tentatively titled "Truly in Love."
"It's a very straightforward love song," Jam said. "The thing we said about it when we did it was that it could have been on any of her albums. There's nothing trendy about it. It's a very simple love song with few instruments and finger snaps and a lot of harmonies. It's very reminiscent of her style over the years."
Jam said not to read too much into the timeless tune, however, as the album could break out into any direction.
"In the case of Velvet Rope, that concept was a little pre-planned, but on Rhythm Nation, Control, Janet and All for You the general concept took shape after the album was being done. However, what she's feeling at the middle time of the album is usually what the album ends up being."
Jam and Lewis, who are celebrating 20 years of working together this year, have also been busy in the studio with other ladies. They produced two tracks for Deborah Cox's new album, including the single "Up and Down," and handled tracks for newcomer Heather Headley's This Is Who I Am.
"She comes from Broadway, so her delivery is a whole different type of vibe," Jam said.
Jam and Lewis also have three tracks on Mariah Carey's upcoming album, including the first single, "Through the Rain," and a collaboration with Justin Timberlake (see "Jay-Z, Timberlake, Cam'ron Contribute To Mariah Carey LP").
Contrary to past reports, one album they have not worked on is Whitney Houston's. Jam says they are ready, though, if the call comes.
"We are 100 percent committed to doing something wonderful with her," Jam said. "If there's one thing I've learned over the years about [Arista Records chief] L.A. Reid, it's that he will not release anything before it is done. We learned from the Usher record, which was supposedly done. Then, next thing we know, we were in the studio with him doing five songs."
Jam and Lewis have one other big project in the can. They produced the music for the new holiday Gap commercials, which will hit TVs in mid-November. Jam wouldn't reveal what music they remixed, but said to expect something fun.