Janet Jackson. Very few artists still have viable careers who originated during my formative years. I have a fondness for Janet Jackson because I grew up with her. I think Janet Jackson's Control album is one of the first ones I had on tape, I spent hours with my friends dancing to Rhythm Nation and pretty much every album has corresponded with milestones in my life. With her new album coming out towards the end of February I wanted to reflect on her career and sum it up with the best of the best. Trying to pick ten Janet Jackson songs that are the absolute best was not easy by any means. Yet, after a lot of deliberation I feel like this best represents the best of Janet Jackson. Like her brother she has had to weather scandal but I think her history speaks for itself. Janet Jackson is her own legend; sensual, talented and confident.
1. Rhythm Nation- (Rhythm Nation 1814) I think Rhythm Nation is probably one of the best choreographed videos ever right behind Thriller. The song had a fantastic message about unifying and being blind to color when judging a people's worth. The production for the time was jaw dropping and I remember being inspired both as a person and as a music lover by this song. I definitely was a part of the rhythm nation.
2. When I Think Of You (Control)- A template for all the light hearted, mid tempo love songs that came later this is one of my favorite songs from Control for the simple fact it has aged well. Later hits for her are descendants of this breezy, summer jam including "All For You", "Escapade" and "Together Again".
3. Control (Control) A massive synthesized declaration of independence the work that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis did with the synthesizers was insane at the time and it managed to be funky and modern at the same time.
4. Love Will Never Do (Without You)- (Rhythm Nation 1814) A beautiful blend of ethereal and urban, this song was the one that introduced us to a more vulnerable, sensual Janet Jackson. It's probably one of her most enduring songs both for the lighthearted delivery of the song and for the video where Janet takes off the military inspired uniform and gets in a pair of sexy jeans and a white tank top.
5. All Nite (Don't Stop) (Damita Jo)- For anyone who doubted Janet still had a something when she released Damito Jo, they need not look beyond this streamlined, funky jam. The video had some fantastic choreography, the music keeps you involved and the song has a beat that won't quit.
6. Lonely (Rhythm Nation 1814) For someone who doesn't have a diva voice, she's always delivered some very moving, emotional ballads. I always thought this one was pretty underrated and this is why it has made my list. Every time I hear this song it just really fills me with this wistful feeling and her vocal is pretty and contemplative.
7. Enjoy (20 y.o.)- Giving off a vibrant, sunny vibe with its jazzy tones this song is classic Janet for a modern time. The piano tinkles beckoning, the vocals are sweet and laid back and it's just a song you want to hear over and over.
8. I Get Lonely (Velvet Rope) - A seductive, bluesy jam that took the idea behind "Anytime, Anyplace" and fleshed it out, the song is sultry and smoky. Finger snaps and a confident sensuality exudes even as Janet Jackson discusses feeling lonely. The song has an amazing sound.
9. This Time (.janet) Blending opera with R&B, this song was ambitious and completely memorable. It's an angry song filled with drama and the marriage of these two seemingly polar opposite genres is sheer brilliance.
10. If (.janet) Black Cat prepared us for a Janet Jackson who, like her strange sibling, can combine rock, pop and R&B together and give us one of the best fast songs of her career. Sampling The Supremes "Someday We'll Be Together", the song has a dramatic but erotically charged air.
So overall these are my favorite Janet Jackson songs. Although her legendary history could have produced twenty songs I would consider essentials, these are the songs that best represent her as an artist.