As a child of the 1980s, my first exposure to Janet Jackson was hearing the songs from the Control album on the radio and seeing the music videos from that era on MTV during the mid-1980s. Over the years, the songs from the Control and Rhythm Nation 1814 eras have remained my favorites. By the mid-to-late 1990s, I really started losing interest in the music Janet was releasing; the only real exceptions to this would be “Doesn’t Really Matter” and “Someone to Call My Lover.”
Here are my favorite Janet Jackson songs:
Black Cat – This was the sixth single from Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. For an artist who was known for doing dance and pop songs, this one really stands out due to it sounding more “rock” than her other songs.
The Pleasure Principle – This is my favorite song from her 1986 album, Control. I love the sound and attitude of the song, and how she conveys her displeasure with her significant other about their relationship.
If – This was the second single from her 1993 album, janet. In some respects, it’s trying to recapture the sound and energy of “Black Cat,” but it adds an almost Asian sound to it. Again, I really like the energy and attitude of the song, and how Janet asserts herself.
Miss You Much – This was the lead-off single for 1989’s Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 album. This is a great dance song, and it had a unique sound compared to the other dance songs released during 1989. And how can you not like the “spelling lesson” in the chorus?
Come Back To Me – This was the fifth single from Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, and is quite a touching ballad. While I’m not a big fan of Janet’s ballads, this one has a theme that many people can associate with and understand. And the emotion used in her vocals help to reinforce the theme.
Escapade – This was the third single from Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. This has a wonderful light-hearted feel, and it captures the essence of the song, which is about wanting to get away from your troubles and have a good time.
When I Think of You – From Janet Jackson’s 1986 album, Control. This has such a fun vibe, and is a great mid-1980s dance song. And this is one of those songs where I can just see the music video in my head while I’m hearing it.
Nasty – This is also from Janet Jackson’s 1986 album, Control. My favorite part in this song is where she declares that her first name ain’t baby, it’s Janet… but it’s Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty. This has a combination of assertiveness and uptempo mid-1980s dance music that appeals to me.