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How ‘Control’ Redefined Janet Jackson

Control album by Janet Jackson

Control: Janet Jackson’s Breakthrough Masterpiece

Janet Jackson’s Control is more than just an album; it’s a declaration of independence, a genre-defining masterpiece, and a pivotal moment in the history of pop and R&B music.

Released on February 4, 1986, Control marked Janet Jackson’s third studio album but was the first where she asserted her full artistic voice. The album catapulted Janet into stardom and reshaped the music landscape in the 1980s. This article explores the depths of Control, analyzing its impact, the stories behind its tracks, and its enduring legacy.

Today is Janet’s birthday, so what better day to celebrate Control.

Control – A Statement of Independence

Genesis of the Iconic Janet Jackson

At just 19 years old, Janet Jackson made a bold move by parting ways with her previous management and family influence to take charge of her career. This pivotal decision led to the creation of Control, an album that reflects her journey towards self-realization and independence. Produced by the legendary Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the album’s sound was a radical departure from her earlier records, infusing funk, disco, R&B, and pop with a new sense of boldness and innovation.

Breaking Barriers with New Sounds

Control introduced a fresh, synthesized production style that became influential across music genres. Its use of rhythm, samples, and vocal layering was innovative at the time, making it a forerunner in the use of production techniques that would dominate late 80s and early 90s pop and R&B music.

The Tracks That Defined a Generation

Each track on Control not only showcases Janet’s vocal versatility but also her ability to convey deep, personal emotions through music. Here are a few standouts:

“Nasty” – A Cultural Phenomenon

With its assertive lyrics and catchy sound, “Nasty” became more than just a hit song—it was a cultural statement against disrespect and harassment. Its famous line, “No, my first name ain’t baby, it’s Janet – Miss Jackson if you’re nasty,” became a feminist anthem and a popular catchphrase that still resonates today. Listen to “Nasty.”

“What Have You Done for Me Lately” – Janet Jackon’s Relatable Hit

This track spoke to the frustrations of unreciprocated effort in relationships, set to a vibrant beat that made it impossible not to dance along. It not only scored high on the charts but also set the tone for many conversations about romantic expectations and respect. Listen to “What Have You Done for Me Lately.”

“When I Think of You” – Pure Joy Unleashed

This song, which became Janet’s first number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, is an upbeat track that captures the essence of new love and happiness. Its infectious rhythm and joyful lyrics highlight Janet’s more playful and tender side. Listen to the song on youtube.

“The Pleasure Principle” – An Ode to Self-Love

“The Pleasure Principle” is a standout track that emphasizes self-sufficiency and personal joy over the need for companionship. It’s known not only for its strong lyrical message but also for its iconic music video, which showcased Janet’s formidable dance skills and her ability to command the screen alone. Watch the music video for “The Pleasure Principle.”

Explore more classic Janet Jackson songs in Janet Jackson: 80s and 90s Hit Songs

Control: Influence and Legacy

Impact on Music and Culture

Control wasn’t just successful in terms of sales (it sold over ten million copies worldwide), but it also earned critical acclaim and a slew of awards, including six Billboard Awards and four American Music Awards. Its influence was profound, paving the way for future generations of artists who saw Janet’s success as a blueprint for musical innovation and personal expression.

A Role Model for Artistic Independence

Janet Jackson’s shift towards personal management and self-expression inspired many artists to take control of their careers. Her influence can be seen in the works of countless artists across all genres who cite Control as an inspiration for its production, lyrical content, and thematic boldness.

Conclusion: Control as a Timeless Classic

Over three decades later, Control remains a benchmark for artists striving for autonomy and a touchstone for fans who appreciate its empowering message. Janet Jackson’s masterpiece is not just an album but a movement that continues to inspire and entertain new generations of music lovers.

FAQs About Janet Jackson’s Control

  1. What made Control different from Janet Jackson’s previous albums?
    • Control was Janet’s declaration of independence, both personally and professionally. It was the first album where she had significant creative control, collaborating closely with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to craft a sound that was completely new and distinct from her earlier projects.
  2. How did Control influence other artists?
    • Control influenced a wide range of artists by demonstrating the power of blending genres and the importance of personal and artistic independence. Its sound and production techniques can be heard in the works of many subsequent artists across pop, R&B, and hip hop.
  3. What awards did Control win?

Explore more R&B and hip-hop deep dives. 

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