Janet Jackson is every sense of the word a cultural icon. After moving away from the shadows of her superstar brother Michael Jackson, she showed up and out in every way possible. The icon has 13 No.1 R&B singles, five Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 Hits, and five Grammys. Janet is known for using her platform to invoke change in gender and racial bias. She also normalized and uplifted women in the use of sexual proactive lyrics in her records which were accompanied by her elaborate stage performances. Coming from humble beginnings as the youngest of nine in the small Indiana town of Gary, she changed the game when leaving her imprint on the music industry and pop culture.
"Again" is Janet's third single from her self-titled fifth album. The song was used as the closing track from the film 'Poetic Justice' which starred Janet and the late Tupac Shakur. "Again" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 1994. The record was Janet's seventh No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending two weeks on top of the chart. The song is certified platinum by the RIAA.
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who were Janet's frequent collaborators and produced many of her hits also helped the icon pen "When I Think Of You." The video for this song was choreographed by Paula Abdul. When this record hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 it made history for Janet and Michael who became the first and only siblings to have No.1 solo hits in the U.S. The song is certified gold by the RIAA.
"Nasty" is the second single from Janet's third studio album 'Control.'In the song, Janet shows a sexier side to the then rising icon with the signature line, "No, my first name ain't baby, it's Janet... Ms. Jackson if you're nasty." Janet told NME how the song came about: "When I was working in Minneapolis, I was walking from the hotel to the studio, and there were all these guys hanging around, shouting seriously sexual stuff, some really dirty stuff. I went in and started working on the song right after that. So many men call women, 'baby.' It takes away your dignity. I've got a name and if you don't know it then don't shout at me in the street." Janet wrote the song with her producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The song peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The record also won Favorite Soul/R&B Single at the 1987 American Music Awards. "Nasty" is certified gold by the RIAA.
"Together Again" finds Janet honoring her friends she had lost to AIDS. In the song she says she will meet them again in heaven. Janet told newnownext.com what the song meant to her: "[This song was] very personal for me. I lost a lot of friends and people that I worked with to this disease (AIDS)," she recalled. She said that she took heat for making the song, "I caught drama for that too: Before I wrote the song, I told some of the people at the label the concept for the song, and they didn't think it was a good idea - 'I don't think you should do that.' I said, 'Why shouldn't I?' Because whatever, whatever. I thought, 'You know, this is really stupid.' It was in my heart." Frequent collaboration Jimmy Jam explained that there were two different versions of this song: "We did one where there was a long intro inspired by Donna Summer's 'Last Dance,' where it started off really slow before kicking into the beat. We thought it was a cool contrast, kicking into the more uptempo, house beat. We always figured radio would play the version that's immediately fast, but surprisingly enough, a lot of stations played the slow version." The record is certified gold by the RIAA.
"Scream" was created to voice Janet and Michael Jackson's feelings on injustice and otherworldly issues that made them frustrated. The iconic music video was directed by Mark Romanek who recalled to Rolling Stone how it was to watch Michael and Janet's relationship: "[Michael and Janet] obviously had a deep affection and love for one another and were very excited to finally dance together on camera for the first time. There was some very healthy and good-natured sibling rivalry going on there in that scene." The music video won a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video. The song is certified platinum by the RIAA.
In the title song of her breakthrough album, Janet is ready to take her life into her own hands. Janet broke off her business relationship with her father Joe Jackson after releasing her second album 'Dream Street' in 1984, after his attempt to take over 1986’s 'Control.' "'Control' came from the heart," she told the Los Angeles Times. "It was all about stepping out, taking control of your life... a certain point in your life when you ask yourself who you are and what you want to do." The video later won a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap Video in 1988. The song is currently certified gold status by the RIAA.
"Escapade" was written by Janet which Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced. "While [Janet] was sitting in one room coming up with lyrics, I put it on the 24-track," Jimmy Jam recalled per Genius. "We hooked the drum machine up. On my left hand I played the bass, on the right hand I played the chord. And it was just enough for her to sing to, which we do a lot. Because we like to let her sing to as minimum of a track as we can do, then fill in the track around her so that her part is the main part of the song. With 'Escapade,' she sang it and we kept saying we'll go back and redo the track... we never redid the track." The track is certified gold by the RIAA.
"That's The Way Love Goes" is the lead single for Jackson's 1993 album 'Janet.' The single was released under then record-breaking $32 contract with Virgin Records which at the time was the largest recording deal in history. Michael beat her deal with a $50 million deal from Epic not too long after Janet signed with Virgin Records. This seductive love song shows how Janet is ready to immerse herself in love for the man she desires. In the song, you can hear what sounds like men chanting the title to the song but producer Jimmy Jam says that he electronically manipulated Janet's voice in order to sound masculine. The record spent eight weeks at No. 1 in the US Billboard Hot 100. This song earned Janet Jackson a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song and a nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 1994 award show. The song is certified platinum by the RIAA.
"Rhythm Nation 1814" was written by Janet and songwriting/production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The idea for the song came from the Stockton playground murders. The tragedy occurred in 1989 when a man named Patrick Purdy shot and killed five schoolchildren and wounded 32 others. He then turned the gun on himself. Janet, Jimmy Jam, and Lewis decided to turn the tragedy into making a positive message focusing on the people they interacted with in New York clubs. "I was reading about all these clubs and I thought it would be great if we could create our own nation," Jackson told the Los Angeles Times. "One that would have a positive message and that everyone would be free to join." The video provided military-style moves which she became famous for. Janet won Best Music Video - Longform for "Rhythm Nation 1814" at the 32nd Annual Grammy Awards. The song is certified gold by the RIAA.
"All For You" was the longest-running No.1 song of 2001, and it topped the US charts for seven weeks between April and May. In this song, Janet spots a guy she is interested in but is too shy to approach him. The song is based on the 1980 record "The Glow Of Love" by the funk group Change. Luther Vandross was the lead singer of the group at the time. "All For You" was also the name of Jackson's 2001 tour. The song won the 2001 Grammy for "Best Pop Dance Recording." "All For You" is certified platinum by the RIAA.