10 Best Janet Jackson Deep Cuts
It’s Janet June! All month long, we’re paying tribute to Janet — Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty — with a celebration the legacy of the icon as she prepares to make her long-awaited comeback to the music scene. Welcome back, Miss Janet.
We are mere days away now from Janet Jackson's grand return to the music scene with her upcoming full-length LP, her first since her 2008's Discipline.
Throughout her career, Janet has had some majorly iconic singles — “If,” “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” “That’s the Way Love Goes” to name just a few — many of which have paved the way for pop starlets such as Britney Spears, Tinashe and Rihanna.
However, Miss Jackson-If-Ya-Nasty has just as many great (if not better!) should-have-been-smashes throughout her discography.
Here now are Janet’s 10 best deep cuts.
At the time of recording, Janet had divorced her husband, Rene Elizondo Jr., and cut ties with her choreographer, Tina Landon. It’s highly speculated that "Trust A Try" is about the demise of the two relationships, but the always private Jackson has never confirmed the rumor. (Producer Jimmy Jam, on the other hand, reportedly suggested that the song is about lawyers and label execs.) The song fuses elements of mock-operetta, rock and dance, and the theatrical vocal arrangement is fast-paced, similar to rapping. Janet was fueled with anger, and it worked for one of her more avant-garde tracks.
What do you get when Janet teams up with Q-Tip and samples Joni Mitchell? A dope song, that's what.
While the beat is incredibly groovy, it’s hard to not sense how fragile Janet’s voice is throughout the song. Released as the lead single from 1997's The Velvet Rope, "Got 'Til It's Gone" only managed to peak at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100. Still, its impact lived on: Many artists have cited “Got ‘Til Its Gone” as a huge inspiration (Kelly Rowland's "Gone," for instance), as well as the visual, which incorporates South African elements and served as the main influence for Solange’s video for “Losing You."
Janet layers the beauty of a blissful relationship and the passion of intimacy into a beautiful ballad with a subtle Eastern influences. It’s a sweet, endearing song — something we don't always get from Miss "Nasty" Jackson.
Janet Jackson has never played it safe. As one of the performers at VH1’s Fashion Awards in 1998, (yes, at one time, that existed), Janet opted to perform “What About” instead of one of her bigger singles — and it was powerful. She used this platform to shed light on an issue not many would necessarily speak of, especially for a pop star. Infusing heavy rock undertones, Janet crafted a prevailing tune about the horrors of domestic violence...and wanting to escape.
While sampling “Think (About It)” by Lyn Collins, Janet takes us on a musical trip through crazy funk and mellow beats all in one. “Free Xone” deals with homophobia and same-sex relationships, and although the beat is insanely fun, the message of tolerance — both for yourself and others — is earnest. With “Free Xone” and AIDS tribute “Together Again,” we’re not sure why Janet isn't a bigger LGBTQ icon.
Produced by a pre-superstardom Louis Vuitton Don (AKA Kanye West), the mellow R&B beat blends perfectly with the kind of sinful lyrics that Janet has crafted so well throughout her later career with a hint of hip-hop. “Strawberry Bounce” is one of Janet’s strongest songs post-Super Bowl Nipplegate incident.
Janet’s vocals are like velvet on "New Agenda" — yet the message is strong. The pop icon proclaims how proud she is to be an African-American woman, however difficult our society’s deep-rooted history of hatred makes it for many to accept the beautiful culture. But with all the adversity Blacks may endure, they must rejoice! Enlisting Chuck D, the political rapper from Public Enemy, he fires up the song even more by piggybacking off of Jackson.
Released as the third single from her 2008 album Discipline and produced by Darkchild, “LUV” was one of the most critically acclaimed songs off the album, but failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Still, Janet gave us a perfect blend of pop and R&B, with an incredibly infectious chorus that will have you singing along without even realizing. Luv, la-luv, la-luv, luv!
As part of Janet’s socially conscious concept album Rhythm Nation 1814, “The Knowledge” tackles many of the topics addressed on the album. While experimenting with funk and industrial sound, she tells her “Nation” that knowledge truly is everything — and let’s not forget the incredible solo choreography she delivers in the Rhythm Nation 1814 Film.
“Throb” is a masterfully classic House track, with Janet oozing sexuality with her vocals...even if there truly aren’t that many lyrics within the song. The horns, snares and bass all take us on a wild ride that reaches a climax towards the end, and then gently brings it down.
It’s one of Janet’s best dance tracks, period.
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