The year was 1993.
Republican President George Bush lost reelection, leaving the country in economic shambles. Democratic President Bill Clinton -- who in many ways was a moderate -- was sworn in earlier that year and promised to be tough on crime. It was a profoundly conservative era. Sex was taboo, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic was killing thousands of people, with the government turning its back. The solution for many was to suppress and legislate anyone and anything encouraging sexual liberation. A year before, Madonna's career was nearly destroyed after backlash to her highly provocative Erotica album. In 1992, the only Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits by women were big ballads.
The war on drugs was raging; Black communities were being targeted with tropes of the welfare queen, crackhead -- and hip-hop artists were used as the scapegoat. In reality, this was the worst time to release an album like Janet, not only as a woman but as a Black woman. Janet Jackson defied the odds and, once again, changed the entertainment industry and pop music.
Released on May 18, 1993, Janet was a game-changer. As we reflect on its legacy, here are five ways the iconic album impacted music and our cultural landscape.
Janet represented a significant departure from Jackson's previous work, both sonically and thematically. The album embraced a more sensual and reflective tone, exploring themes of love, sexuality, and personal empowerment. She was criticized for going from a song like 1986's "Let's Wait Awhile" to "Any time, Any place." This bold artistic direction resulted in serious backlash.
The Times complained, "she tends to confuse sex with soul." A Los Angeles Times review with a title that read "Heavy Breathing as a Career Move," claimed the album will only be successful "not because it's any great piece of work, but largely for its aphrodisiacal aspirations." Entertainment Weekly accused Janet of trying to "rip-off" Madonna and added the album "sounds like a mess — period."
Thirty years and 14 million sold albums later, they were all wrong. Jackson's fearlessness made her an inspiration to countless women, empowering them to embrace their sexuality, especially as a Black woman, and demand respect. The Janet album should also be seen through the lens of feminism. While sexuality in music was nothing new, her use of sexuality wasn't at the order of a man or producer. Miss Jackson was the boss, it was her vision, her creation and she made no apologies.(Video) The 2001 MTV VMAs were a HOT MESS
Janet charted a path in a deeply conservative era for other artists to be unapologetic in their sexuality, from Beyoncé to Rihanna to Megan Thee Stallion.
Watch the "Anytime, Anyplace" video above.
Fusion Of Hip Hop
Back in 1993, hip-hop was at the center of a cultural war. Politicians from both sides were slamming the art form for everything from too violent to radical. Some critics argued hip hop was a fad. It was rare for an artist as mainstream as Janet to embrace hip-hop and include rappers in their music, but Miss Jackson did. While Jackson had Heavy D on a remix of "Alright" for 1989's Rhythm Nation 1814, on Janet, Chuck D of Public Enemy was featured on the track "New Agenda." The song dived deep into the intersections of being a Black woman. Janet wrote, "Because of my gender / I've heard 'no' too many times / Because of my race / I've heard 'no' too many times / But with every 'no' / I grow in strength/ That is why African-American woman, I stand tall with pride."
Miss Jackson didn't stop there. She included MC Lyte on a version of "You Want This," Lyte was also featured in the iconic video.
In a 1993 interview with MTV, Janet spoke out against the backlash hip-hop was receiving, "I love rap music... I've learned a lot from rap as well. I feel in school we were taught only that we were slaves and not kings and queens. I feel like rap has educated myself as well as other races about our history."(Video) Janet Jackson - The Pleasure Principle
Today, it is commonplace to hear pop songs that feature hip-hop artists, but Janet was one of the few to do it first.
See the clip above.
Visuals, The Iconic 'Rolling Stone' Cover
While critics were whining about the music, there was also backlash to the album's visuals -- especially Janet Jackson's 1993 Rolling Stone cover, which hit newsstands that September. The controversial image featured Jackson topless and her breasts covered by the hands of her then-husband.
The cover, shot by photographer Patrick Demarchelier, was meant to be a symbol of intimacy and trust between Jackson and her partner. Conservative groups argued that the cover was inappropriate and offensive. Jackson told Rolling Stone in a 1993 interview, “Well, for the first time, I’m feeling free... For me, sex has become a celebration, a joyful part of the creative process.” Despite the negative reactions, the cover brought to the forefront societal debates surrounding nudity, objectification, and the limits of artistic freedom for Black women.
Before viral photos or Instagram, the 1993 Rolling Stone cover was a pivotal moment in the history of celebrity imagery.(Video) Accidental Demise - The Bobby Caldwell Story (Blue Eyed Soul R&B)
Experimental Production And Genres
The album's production, handled primarily by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, was innovative and experimental, featuring layered vocal harmonies, intricate percussion, and soundscapes that pushed the limits of what was possible in pop music. Each song, not just lyrically but sonically, told a different story.
"This Time," a song about infidelity, included opera powerhouse Kathleen Battle. "Throb" was a house track that lived for years in clubs due to remixes. The No. 1 song "Again," which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song from the movie Poetic Justice, included members of the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. The Motown-type song "What I'll Do," a big hit in Europe, featured vocals from Sounds of Blackness singer Ann Nesby.
While certainly played with other genres in previous albums, Janet was a sonic tapestry, blurring the lines of pop, R&B, and hip hop, pushing the boundaries of "mainstream" music. Listen to a live version of "What I'll Do" above.
(Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)(Video) Janet Jackson - Love Will Never Do (Without You)
In 1991, Janet made history when she left her original label, A&M, and signed a contract with Virgin worth an estimated $40 million for three to five albums. Jackson was the highest-paid musical artist in the world. The New York Times reported, "That's more than the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen or Ms. Jackson's brother Michael are guaranteed by their contracts." That said, Michael Jackson renegotiated his contract with Sony shortly after and broke Janet's record. However, Janet set a standard for record deals, allowing other artists to land lucrative deals. By 2001, Mariah Carey closed a reported $80 million deal with Virgin. Janet Jackson sent Mariah flowers in celebration, welcoming her to the label.
Janet proved she was worth every penny, considering the commercial success of Janet. The album sold 350,000 copies in its first week, setting a record for the highest first-week sales for a female artist. She was also the first female artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the Nielsen SoundScan era (Whitney Houston was the first-ever female artist to debut at No. 1 in 1987, pre-SoundScan).
Thirty years later, Janet has stood the test of time. Songs like "Any time, Any place," "That's The Way Love Goes," and "Again" still sound modern in 2023. The album stands as a seminal moment in Jackson's illustrious career and is her biggest-selling album. The success and long-lasting impact of the Janet album is what artists dream of in their career. In 1992, she forever cemented her status as a trailblazer and ripped down the barriers for women, Black artists, and pop stars.
Happy 30th anniversary to Janet.
music newsJanet Jackson
How did Janet Jackson impact the music industry? ›
As a black female and one of the best-selling musicians of all time, Jackson was pivotal in changing the relationship between music labels and black artists. She paved the path for better recording deals and distribution rights and broke through salary ceilings for an entire generation of entertainers.How has pop music changed over time? ›
Before the 1940s, jazz was the main contributor to pop until rock and roll replaced it well into the 60s. Mostly male artists such as Elvis Presley and bands such as The Beatles blended pop and rock. The sounds were heavier on the rock side. In the 1970s and 1980s, disco and funk added new sounds to pop.Why is Janet Jackson important? ›
Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer. She is noted for her innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate stage shows.How has pop music changed in the last decade? ›
Over the past decade, pop music has evolved in a number of ways. One of the most notable changes is the increasing popularity of electronic music. This genre has become increasingly mainstream, with many pop artists incorporating elements of electronic music into their sound.Who is the queen of pop of all time? ›
Queen of Pop is a nickname most commonly associated with American singer Madonna. Queen of Pop may also refer to: Several other musicians, see honorific nicknames in popular music.Who has Janet Jackson influenced? ›
Her unabashed sexuality, powerful dance moves, independent spirit, and complete dedication to her craft made her the prototype for the modern star. Her influence is felt through the careers of Rihanna, Tinashe, Destiny's Child, and Justin Timberlake, just to name a few.Who had the biggest impact on pop music? ›
- The Beatles. =
- Jimi Hendrix. +6.
- Bob Dylan. -1.
- The Rolling Stones. -1.
- David Bowie. -1.
- James Brown. +11.
- The Velvet Underground. -1.
- Miles Davis. +4.
Pop music characteristics encompass four key elements commonly found in hit songs: a good rhythm, a catchy melody, easy-to-remember lyrics, and a repeated chorus.When did pop music change? ›
During the 1950s and 1960s, pop music encompassed rock and roll and the youth-oriented styles it influenced. Rock and pop music remained roughly synonymous until the late 1960s, after which pop became associated with music that was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible.What are some accomplishments of Janet Jackson? ›
Jackson has received eleven American Music Awards, five Grammy Awards, ten MTV Video Music Awards, and 11 Billboard Music Awards.
What did Janet Jackson do for black history? ›
Today's featured alumna is Janet E. Jackson, class of 1975, the first woman and first African-American woman to lead the United Way of Central Ohio in its 80-year-history. Jackson also was the first woman elected Columbus City Attorney and the first African-American judge in Franklin County.How many number 1 hits does Janet Jackson have? ›
Billboard ranked her as well as the third greatest female artist of all time on Billboard Hot 100 history (behind Madonna and Mariah Carey). She has attained 10 Hot 100 number-one singles, 16 Hot R&B number-one singles, and 20 Hot Dance/Club Play number-one singles.Why is pop music so different now? ›
Music loudness has been manipulated by the use of compression. Compression boosts the volume of the quietest parts of the song so they match the loudest parts, reducing dynamic range. With everything now loud, it gives music a muddled sound, as everything has less punch and vibrancy due to compression.How did pop music change in the 1980s? ›
The 1980s saw the emergence of electronic dance music and new wave, also known as Modern Rock. As disco fell out of fashion in the decade's early years, genres such as post-disco, Italo disco, Euro disco, and dance-pop became more popular. Rock music continued to enjoy a wide audience.How has pop music changed since 1960? ›
Popular music diversified in the 1960s to encompass surf, folk, and soul music. In the 1970s, glam rock and disco became popular, and punk rockers revolted against the excesses of these styles. Hip-hop dominated the 1980s, and its popularity continued into the 1990s and 2000s.Who is the biggest female pop? ›
Madonna is recognized by Guinness World Records as the "Best-selling female recording artist of all time".Who is King of Pop now? ›
So here he is, the new King of Pop and the Grand Monarch of Music as well.
King of Pop is a nickname most commonly associated with American singer Michael Jackson (1958–2009). King of Pop may also refer to: Several other musicians, see honorific nicknames in popular music. King of Pop (album), a 2008 compilation album by Michael Jackson.Does Janet Jackson believe in God? ›
"Jehovah's Witnesses was the religion we were raised under," Jackson says. "I'd get up on Sunday mornings, go to the Kingdom Hall, go again on Thursday night and go to book study on Tuesdays, because that was my mother's routine." "I believe in God.What is the meaning of Janet? ›
Janet is a feminine given name meaning "God is gracious or gift from God".
When did Janet Jackson became popular? ›
She signed a recording contract in 1982, and became her own pop icon following the release of her third and fourth studio albums Control (1986) and Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). By the end of the 1990s, Janet was named by Billboard magazine as the second most successful recording artist of the decade after Mariah Carey.Who changed pop music? ›
From rock 'n' roll to Indian music and psychedelia, there was no genre they had left untouched. And it was their efforts that opened doors for a whole new genre called “pop music.”
Rock'n'roll brought much more of that, and Elvis Presley became a global star, the biggest of the late 1950s and early 1960s. But he would find himself supplanted by the Beatles, who revolutionised pop by writing their own material, instigating a fashion that remains undiminished.Who is the #1 best pop singer? ›
1. Michael Jackson. What is this? As the King of Pop, it makes sense to begin the list with Michael Jackson.What are 5 characteristics of pop music? ›
They have a good rhythm, a catchy melody, and are easy to remember and sing along to. They usually have a chorus that's repeated several times and two or more verses. Most pop songs are between two and five minutes long, and the lyrics are usually about the joys and problems of love and relationships.What is unique about pop music? ›
Pop music is understood to be a genre of music that is enjoyed by a broad audience. The songs are often rhythmic and straightforward, with a strong focus on melody and harmony. Pop music is also more commercialized than other genres, with artists typically working with record labels to promote their music.What was the first pop song? ›
In fact, Milwaukee is home to the first major commercial pop song. The first song to sell millions of copies of sheet music was written and first performed in Cream City. The song is called 'After the Ball' by Charles Harris. It was written in 1891 and debuted in 1892.How did pop music become popular? ›
But the true driving force of pop in the '60s came from across the Atlantic, with Beatlemania and the British Invasion into the American charts. The British Invasion brought rock and pop music and bands to the U.S., where they became wildly popular.Is pop music evolving? ›
As evidenced in our pop music history timeline, popular music is ever-evolving. This is thanks to innovation in technology and the creativity of musicians, taking influences from many different genres and putting their own spin on them.How did pop music change in the 1990s? ›
Popular music in the 1990s saw the continuation of teen pop and dance-pop trends which had emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. Furthermore, hip hop grew and continued to be highly successful in the decade, with the continuation of the genre's golden age.
What was Janet Jackson's most successful album? ›
According to BMG Records, JANET JACKSON sold over 160,000,000 records (albums and singles) worldwide, including 33,034,000 in the United States and 2,460,000 in the United Kingdom. The best-selling album by JANET JACKSON is JANET., which sold over 20,000,000 copies .Who has the most Grammys ever? ›
The record for the most Grammy Awards won in a lifetime is held by Beyoncé, an American singer, songwriter, record producer and dancer, who has won 32. It was previously held by Georg Solti, a Hungarian-British conductor, who won 31.Has Janet won Album of the Year? ›
9. She won a Soul Train Music Award for Album of the Year and Best Music Video for “What Have You Done for Me Lately” in 1987.How did Michael Jackson change ethnicity? ›
To this day, many assume Jackson bleached his skin to become white – that it was a wilful cosmetic decision because he was ashamed of his race. Yet in the mid-1980s Jackson was diagnosed with vitiligo, a skin disorder that causes loss of pigmentation in patches on the body.How much is Michael Jackson worth? ›
It was the eighth year since his death that Jackson's annual earnings were reported to be over $100 million, thus bringing Jackson's postmortem total to $2.4 billion.How old is Michael Jackson now? ›
On June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, California, at age 50. Jackson's death, which was caused by a lethal combination of sedatives and propofol, an anesthetic, was ruled a homicide. In 2011 Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal doctor, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.What is the biggest song of all time? ›
According to Guinness World Records, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (1942) as performed by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single worldwide, with estimated sales of over 50 million copies.Who has written the most #1 songs? ›
The most successful songwriters in terms of number one singles are John Lennon (1940-80) and Paul McCartney (b. 18 Jun 1942). McCartney is credited as the writer on 32 number one hits in the US to Lennons 26 (with 23 co-written), whereas Lennon authored 29 UK number ones to McCartney's 28 (25 co-written).Who has more number 1 hits Beyonce or Janet Jackson? ›
The only other artists to have achieved more than 20 chart toppers are Rihanna (33) and Beyonce (22). Janet Jackson has accumulated 20 number-ones during her career, followed by Katy Perry with 19, and Jennifer Lopez with 18. Mariah Carey and Kristine W are tied with 17.How did Janet Jackson start her music career? ›
Her father had other plans when he heard the young Jackson sing. He convinced her to give performing a try, and she began her career singing at the Las Vegas M.G.M. Grand Casino.
Who has the second most Grammys? ›
Beyoncé has won 28 Grammys throughout her famed career, making her the most Grammy-awarded female artist of all time. Producer and songwriter Quincy Jones has also won 28 Grammy Awards, tying him for second-most awards with Beyoncé. Alison Krauss of Alison Krauss & Union Station has taken home 27 Grammys.Is Janet Jackson an activist? ›
In June 2005, Jackson was given the Humanitarian Award by the Human Rights Campaign and AIDS Project Los Angeles in honor of her activism.When was Janet Jackson's first hit? ›
“When I Think of You” (1986): The first of her No.
When you think of upbeat Janet songs, you think of this one.
Michael Jackson would have turned 64 on August 29, 2022.Who has the #1 hit of all time? ›
|1.||"Blinding Lights"||The Weeknd|
|2.||"The Twist"||Chubby Checker|
|3.||"Smooth"||Santana featuring Rob Thomas|
|4.||"Mack the Knife"||Bobby Darin|
Cher's career as a recording artist spans seven decades and she is the only artist to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in each of the past six decades.Who has the most #1 hits ever? ›
The Beatles have the most No. 1 hits of all time: 20. Though unclear for how long, the Beatles still reign supreme as the artist with the most No.