220px-rhythmnation1814Janet Jackson – “Rhythm Nation” – (1989)

This is sort of the title track from Janet’s 1989 album Rhythm Nation 1814. As the second single, it went to #2 on the Hot 100 and its video is one of the most recognizable of the first 10 years of MTV. It’s one of the best songs from an album loaded with “best” songs.

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220px-Janetperiod1993Janet Jackson – Any Time, Any Place – 1993

If you don’t remember this song, you’re not alone. But it was a #2 hit for Janet in 1994. It was the fifth single from janet. It’s just classic, smooth R&B. The success of this song gave Ms. Jackson a Billboard record: the only artist with three consecutive albums to place five singles in the top 10. 

Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson – “Scream” – (1995)

This is a brother and sister duet. Many people think Michael Jackson peaked in the 80s and while that might be true, his stuff from the 90s was awesome. At the time, this was the highest debuting single on the Hot 100 ever – jumping in at #5 (where it peaked). It’s about the tabloids that were all over Michael after his alleged child abuse among other things. It was nominated from a Grammy and one of the best remembered things about this song was the video. It was considered the most expensive music video ever made – costing over $7 million in 1995. Which is insane. In all reality, it’s probably more memorable than the song itself.

Janet Jackson – “Together Again” – (1997)

Here’s another #1 song from Janet. Actually, it was a #1 in the U.S., Canada, The Netherlands, and the European Hot 100 – not to mention a top five just about everywhere else. It was a smash – harkening back to the dance-pop Janet everyone knew and loved in the late-80s/early-90s. At the time, it was one of the biggest selling singles in history, selling over 6 million copies. This would be Janet Jackson’s last major single of the 1990s. But she certainly wasn’t done with #1 hits.

Janet Jackson – “Black Cat” – (1989)

We’re going back to the 1980s for a few weeks starting with yet another song from Rhythm Nation. This song was a departure for Janet – it’s not your typical R&B song – actually, it’s not an R&B song at all. It’s rock. Which is weird. Janet has written three songs entirely by herself, and this was the first. If you think about it, R&B singers don’t venture into the rock arena all that often. Her brother, Michael, did it a few times… the best probably being “Black or White.”

Janet Jackson – “Nasty” – (1986)

This song has one of the catchiest synth-hooks I’ve ever heard. It’s from Janet’s 3rd studio album, 1986’s Control and if there’s a song from that album you need to hear this is it. “Nasty” has become one of Janet’s signature songs and it consistently ranks on lists of the greatest pop songs from the 80s or any era.

Janet Jackson – “Escapade” – (1989)

Rhythm Nation. Again. This really was a huge album and I think this might be the most well-known song from it (although I have nothing to back up that opinion). Yeah, I know this single was released in 1990, but the album came out in 1989 – so maybe this song would have been put to better use on our forthcoming (and very brief) list of songs that sound like they come from a different decade than they technically did. I like the random shout-out to Minneapolis in this song. How random.

Janet Jackson – “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” – (1989)

Rhythm Nation produced hit after hit for Janet at the end of the decade – this was the last from the album. The album was released in September of 1989 but this song didn’t hit #1 until January of 1991. Originally, this was supposed to be a duet – but thankfully those plans fell through because it makes for a better upbeat pop song than it would any kind of ballad or duet.

Janet Jackson – “Miss You Much” – (1989)

Janet Jackson rocked the late 80s. This was her second #1, the first from Rhythm Nation – which is easily her best album. New jack swing was the R&B rage at this point and this is one of the most successful examples of the sub-genre. Most of this album was dance-oriented and when was the last time you saw a black and white music video?