On May 18th, Janet Jackson celebrated a very special anniversary. On that day, twenty years earlier, she released her fifth studio album, “janet.,” which turned out to be one of her most successful albums, spawning six top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and garnering several accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song (“That’s the Way Love Goes”). The record was her third straight hit album, following the breakthrough Control and the equally delicious and hit-filled Rhythm Nation.
The “janet.” album was a classic, all the way from the opening whispers of “That’s the Way Love Goes” through playful and sometimes sexy interludes, Supremes’ samples, tender ballads, sexually charged lyrics, and the final, hidden Sesame Streetish “Whoops Now.” The album featured a wide array of genres, with Jackson’s signature R&B style permeating throughout. This one got played out on many a CD player all the way from 1993 to 1995.
In celebration of this noteworthy occasion, let’s revisit the groundbreaking “janet.” album, track by track. There are 27 of them in all, including Janet’s signature interludes. If you were around back in the mid-nineties, I’m sure you’ll remember some of the classic tunes from this one. So kick back, relax, and relive some of the great moments from “janet.”
Morning (Interlude) – The thirty-one second opening to the “janet.” album is a perfect, feel good, morning after segue into the first song, one of Janet Jackson’s biggest hits ever.
That’s the Way Love Goes
“Like a moth to a flame, burned by the fire…“
And so begins the silky, sultry, and iconic smash that sounds as good today as it did in 1993. This smoothest of songs was the lead single off the album and it went all the way to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 where it remained for eight weeks.
You Know You Want This (Interlude) – The opening challenge to the next track…
You Want This
This up tempo jam served as the album’s sixth U.S. single, peaking at #8 on the charts. The tune samples Diana Ross and the Supremes’ “Love Child” and Kool and the Gang’s “jungle Boogie” and shows Miss Janet taking charge of a sexual situation.
Be a Good Boy (Interlude) – Another short one-liner that introduces yet another Supremes’ sample featured exquisitely on the next track.
This fast and frenzied dance tune begins with the unmistakable background chords of the Supremes’ “Someday We’ll Be Together,” which anchor the song down and dirty all the way through to the end. “If” was the second single off “janet.” and it hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The musical versatility and scope of this album is exemplified in this dramatic tune, part dance track, part aria, as opera singer Kathleen Battle contributes her voice to this defiant and innovative song.
Go On Miss Janet (Interlude) – This interlude coined a new moniker for Jackson and segues into a change in musical direction.
“Throb” is a sexually charged throwback to the days of “Roaring 20’s” jazz, with funky horns and frenzied beats playing backdrop to Miss Janet’s explicitness… “Boom,, boom, boom, until noon, noon, noon.”
What’ll I Do
One can’t help but think of the Rolling Stones when hearing this rockish, but light-hearted throwback to the 70’s. The strumming guitars accompanying Janet’s easy-breezy vocals make a nice contribution to this multi-dimensional set. It’s too bad this wasn’t a single here in the U.S., because it would’ve been worthy of airplay.
The Lounge (Interlude) – Simply some applause for another jazzed up tune.
Funky Big Band
This one’s another ear-pleasing tribute to the Jazz Age, with smooth vocals and an equally smooth horn set playing in time to Janet’s vocals.
Racism (Interlude) – “Into a world sick with racism.”
The one and only time Janet tackles societal issues comes in this light-hearted, mid tempo song of peace. “A new agenda’s due.”
Love, Pt. 2 (Interlude) – This short, reverberating sequel to the opening song introduces another fun one.
Because of Love
“janet.’s” fourth single is so sweet it reached all the way to #4 on the charts.
One of the best ballads Janet Jackson has ever done is sweet and tender and it resonated with music lovers everywhere, peaking at #1.
Another Lover (Interlude) – “I would sooner grow older all alone, than to ever have another lover.” Spoken intro to one of the sweetest songs I know.
Where Are You Now
This one is a very dreamy and reflective ballad that’ll put a smile on your face and have your head bopping just a little.
Hold On Baby (Interlude)
The Body That Loves You
Another dreamy tune, a little smoother and slower than the previous cut, but also a little more risqué and smooth.
Rain (Interlude) – What’s a love story such as this any good without a rainstorm interlude?
Any Time, Any Place
Ooh, the rainstorm has ended and it’s time for some smooth and sultry seductiveness. This steamy, jazzy track was the fifth single off “janet.” and it was one of the more successful hits off the album, peaking at #2http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_(album) on the singles chart.
Are You Still Up (Interlude) – The rainstorm has returned and we’re now basking in the afterglow…
Sweet Dreams (Interlude) – Now that the lovemaking has finished and the rain is pounding outside, it’s time for some blissful slumber.
At first listen, the average person may have missed this gem that appears after a period of silence at the end of the previous interlude. “Whoops Now” begins as a little banter between Janet and her pals and turns into a most sunshiney finish to the album. The background music reminds me of something you’d hear on a “Sesame Street” skit and the vocals are totally silly and nothing but fun. What a great way to finish!