Monday, February 01, 2016

Still Ms. Jackson 30 years later

January 11, 1986, the top 20 pop hits were dominated by people over thirty -- Lionel Richie "Say You, Say Me," Dionne & Friends "That's What Friends Are For," John Cougar Mellencamp "Small Town," Stevie Nicks' "Talk To Me," Dire Straits "Walk of Life," Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin's "Separate Lives," Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown," Tina Turner (with Bryan Adams) on "It's Only Love," Stevie Wonder's "Go Home," Sting's "Love Is The Seventh Wave," Paul McCartney's "Spies Like Us," etc.

Among the few under 30?

George Michael's Wham with "I'm Your Man," Eddie Murphy's "Party All The Time" and the then-29-year-old Gloria Estefan with Miami Sound Machine bringing the world "Conga."

If you included the next ten -- for the top 30 -- you'd find over thirty artists like Pete Townsend, Clarence Clemons, Jackson Browne, and Pat Benatar among others.

Young and important groups like R.E.M. wouldn't break the top 40 until 1987.  10,000 Maniacs (led by Natalie Merchant) would have to wait until 1993.

And don't forget the MIAMI VICE effect that dominated so much of the mid-80s -- where male rockers of a certain age hit the charts courtesy of a song heavily featured in that TV program.

Into this world, snarling "Gimmie a beat!," came the one and only Janet Jackson.


She'd hit the R&B charts before, but 1986's CONTROL would find her topping the R&B charts as well as the pop charts and the BILLBOARD 200 (album chart).

Thirty years ago February 4th, CONTROL changed everything.

It brought young artists to the foreground.

It brought dance music to prominence.

It demonstrated Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (the producers of the bulk of the album who also co-wrote the bulk of the songs with Janet) were not mere one-off hit makers but actual artists.

It showed that the Jackson family had two powerhouses -- Michael and Janet.

Janet topped the hot 100 with "When I Think Of You," and "What Have You Done For Me Lately," "Nasty," "Control' and "Let's Wait Awhile" all went top five and "The Pleasure Principal" went top twenty.

CONTROL featured a crisp sound that's still being imitated today.

It featured a strong woman who didn't take four-steps back on her next release.

(Alanis and Tina, for example, rode strength to hit making popularity only to follow up with albums that rejected that strength -- most infamously in songs like "Thank You" and "Typical Male.")

Janet was -- and remains -- strong.

And the sense of community she created with that breakthrough album has only deepened with each subsequent album.

This is story about control
My control 

Control of what I say
Control of what I do
And this time I'm gonna do it my way
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do
Are we ready?
I am 

'Cause it`s all about control,
And I've got lots of it

-- "Control," written by James Harris III, Terry Lewis and Janet Jackson

CONTROL is where she set the record straight.

And got the whole world dancing.

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