Akini's Tribute to Janet Jackson: [#1 Revealed!]

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From which album is my favourite Janet Jackson song lifted?

Janet Jackson
1
8%
Dream Street
2
15%
Control
0
No votes
Rhythm Nation 1814
0
No votes
janet.
4
31%
The Velvet Rope
5
38%
All for You
0
No votes
Damita Jo
1
8%
20 Y.O.
0
No votes
Discipline
0
No votes
Unbreakable
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 13

Postby JakeP » Sat May 05, 2018 8:05 pm

Playing catch up and searching through these tracks to highlight those i know and love. :wink:

JSparksFan wrote:092. When I Think of You

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Teeming with tenderness and innocence, "When I Think of You" would have fit more seamlessly on Dream Street than Control, but I love the joy expressed in the song, punctuated with that lovable laugh of Janet's towards the end. 7.6/10
This is such a great track even if it does sound very much of its time. Sometimes i think this can be a good thing from a nostalgic point of view. I vaguely remember this from when i was young so i suspect either my brother or sister must've bought the single/album at the time.

087. The Best Things in Life Are Free (with Luther Vandross) [feat. Bell Biv DeVoe & Ralph Tresvant]

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A mismatch on paper, Janet Jackson, the dance queen, teams up with Luther Vandross, the duke of R&B and soul balladry, for a song that meets in the middle of their respective realms. With the addition of the hip/hop verse from Raph Tresvant, the song covers all major urban bases. In short, it's a cute romantic jam that doesn't stand out in either of the major parties' discographies, but that doesn't stop it from being enjoyable. 7.6/10
I love this song. <3 I'm sure my sister bought this at the time as i remember this from when i was young too. That said, i never saw the music video until a good few years later on one of those classic music channels and it just makes the song even more fun to listen to.
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Postby JSparksFan » Wed May 09, 2018 2:22 am

phoenix98 wrote:• "What'll I Do" is fun, and certainly interesting territory for her to explore genre/sound-wise. Rock-y/folk-y/soul-y...even a teensy bit country? Now that I think about it, was this the first cover to appear on any of her albums?
I neglected to add the country bit, but there is a country vibe to the song as well. And, yes, it looks like it is!

phoenix98 wrote:• For a long time, I pretty much just lumped together all the "sex-jams-that-aren't-'Would You Mind'" on All For You (especially since they all come back-to-back-to-back on the album), but "When We Oooo" really stands on its own two feet (or whatever position Janet prefers). It's more of a highlight than I managed to recognize for too long. Granted, that album does feature some pretty stiff competition when it comes to highlights.
It really does! Good to hear that "When We Oooo" gained a smidgen more of appreciation in your Janet fanbook!

phoenix98 wrote:• ...unlike Discipline, where "Luv" easily ranks among an elite few for me (it's tailgating "Feedback" in terms of standout status). "Rock With U" felt like a risky single choice because of the song itself, but this one's chart failure I place squarely on the blacklist (well, and its lack of video, which is a real shame). You're totally right about Darkchild's palpable presence, but those two have pretty quality chemistry sometimes (between this, "Feedback," "Make Me"...)
A big YES to "Feedback", and a small, reluctant yes to "Make Me". :lol:

phoenix98 wrote:• I remember being pretty shocked to learn that "Funny How Time Flies" had been released as a proper single overseas. Much like its actual place on the tracklist, it's always fallen toward the bottom of Control for me, and really doesn't strike me as radio-friendly at all (though it seems to have found a place on certain formats). It's a bit like Kylie's "Music's Too Sad Without You" in the sense that it seems to really connect with other listeners, while I'm just left feeling...drowsy, and distracted. I didn't realize it's been sampled that much in recent years! The ending gets mighty steamy, especially considering this track immediately follows abstinence-anthem "Let's Wait A While." :oops:
Aw, I thought you would have appreciated the magic of the verses, but maybe the chorus's lifeless effect is a bit overwhelming.

phoenix98 wrote:• I would've been OK with "Thinkin' 'Bout My Ex"s original ranking :lol: That does give me hope that "Alright" and/or "The Pleasure Principle" could be in much better standing with you in just a year or two, though! It might be that "listing effect" striking again for me (when she just keeps naming places where she's been thinking about her ex instead of the new guy). Speaking of, some of this song is pretty cold on Janet's part...like, damn, I think the new guy gets the message now: you were thinking about your former flame EVERYWHERE. You don't need to mention every. single. instance. :cry: Just keeps twisting that knife in his heart...
Same point, but a fair observation! I think the 'listing effect' is really just Janet illustrating how all-encompassing the lingering feelings are; they literally are with her in everything she does. You know, there is a song that is very close to the top that I'm now wondering if it'll suffer from the same 'listing effect' you highlighted. I doubt it, though. :D

JakeP wrote:Playing catch up and searching through these tracks to highlight those i know and love. :wink:
Hey, Jake! Thanks for popping in! :D

JakeP wrote:This is such a great track even if it does sound very much of its time. Sometimes i think this can be a good thing from a nostalgic point of view. I vaguely remember this from when i was young so i suspect either my brother or sister must've bought the single/album at the time.
It's one of Janet's songs that scream youth, and I love that about it, even if it isn't really that...special.

JakeP wrote:I love this song. <3 I'm sure my sister bought this at the time as i remember this from when i was young too. That said, i never saw the music video until a good few years later on one of those classic music channels and it just makes the song even more fun to listen to.
Yeah, I think I remember you mentioning this as a song you hoped to see do decently here. I suppose #87 is a bit lower than decent. :oops:
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Postby JSparksFan » Wed May 09, 2018 3:19 am

065. And on and On

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I love the male background vocal on the Come on, the beat don't stop 'til the break of dawn bits, but I did scream when Janet herself says on the track, Damn, this is a long song because that's exactly how I feel at that point! The best parts of this song could have been captured in three minutes; the additional two minutes dilute the strength of the summery melody and vocals. 8/10
064. Come Back to Me

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There's no shortage of tenderness on "Come Back to Me", as the slow instrumental, pining lyrics, and longing vocals compound the general message expressed in the title. The spoken interlude, where Janet says, I miss you so much, wherever you are, should have been the end of the song. The additional runtime is unnecessary. 8/10
063. So Excited (feat. Khia)

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There's a raunchiness that Khia brings to this song, completely different from Janet's more subtle brand of sensuality, that makes the Janet/Khia pairing a perfect match. When juxtaposed in the chorus, it makes for an effective contrast. Melodically, I feel like there are parts where the production could have been more pronounced and electric to really drive home the tone of the song. There's a fun wildness that is so well-captured in the lyrics, but not as well-depicted in the production. 8/10
062. Damita Jo

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I had to giggle the first time I heard Janet list I love doin' my man on her CV of accomplishments, honours, and hobbies. There are other fiery lyrics, which make this song stand out, in that department, from most of Janet's discography, but the melody isn't equally as fierce, unfortunately. Janet does a solid job here; she's just let down a bit by the producers. 8/10
061. Discipline

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Though BDSM was explored as part of Janet's sexual adventures on The Velvet Rope, I am amazed that the empress of sensuality and bedroom decorum only used the term daddy in its glorious sexual connotative interpretation on 2008's Discipline, 26 years into her career! There are some songs no one else in the world could pull off but Janet, and this is one of them. I must admit that I find the song among her most alluring. As the sub in her dom/sub pairing, she commands this song; I'm totally convinced by her pleas and moans. So many people think certain branches of sexual activity are devoid of emotion, but Janet captures the emotional gamut of this track brilliantly. I appreciate that there are some understated male moans on this track, as Janet often leaves us high and dry with male vocalisation of sexual pleasure. "Discipline" feels like the sequel to "Rope Burn", and it's a worthy one! This song has more sex appeal more than all three instalments of Fifty Shades combined. 8/10
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Postby phoenix98 » Wed May 09, 2018 7:00 pm

JSparksFan wrote:I neglected to add the country bit, but there is a country vibe to the song as well. And, yes, it looks like it is!
Thanks for taking the time to confirm! That site's a new one on me, and it looks like a really useful resource for highlighting every single sample and cover (and probably more) in an act's catalog. :o

JSparksFan wrote:Aw, I thought you would have appreciated the magic of the verses, but maybe the chorus's lifeless effect is a bit overwhelming.
Hmmm...I think I'm missing something here. Based on your write-up, I thought it was the verses that you find lifeless and in need of some re-working, but I'm more inclined to agree with what you seem to be saying above. The "Funny How Time Flies..." chorus strikes me as more lifeless/robotic, especially with all that pausing between each word, while the verses are more...sumptuous. I swear I'm not just nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking - moreso worried that I’ve missed/misunderstood something somewhere along the way here.

• Ha, that "beat don't stop until the break of dawn" guy does steal the show a bit (his line leaps to mind whenever I think of "And On And On"). Janet's on-point observation makes a charming impression too (she does something similar toward the end of the soundtrack/Number Ones version of "Doesn't Really Matter": "how long we doin' that?") The fact that a track with this much repetition landed this high seems like a testament to just how well it captures/conveys that breezy, playful, summery vibe.

• Tender is such a perfect adjective for "Come Back To Me." It's a tricky case, since the song definitely makes an impact and touches on/stirs up some emotions...but the prolonged run-time really is palpable, especially once you get past the point you mentioned.

• It was very kind of you not to shame JD by name when you repeatedly mention how "the production" doesn't do the rest of "So Excited" justice. ;)

• I've definitely been guilty of over-looking Discipline for many years now, but you make quite the case for it in your write-up (especially by connecting it to my much-loved "Rope Burn"). I'll admit this isn't terribly consistent of me, given my endearment toward that other ode to mixing pleasure and pain, but this time around she loses me a bit with lines like "take out your frustrations on me." As you mentioned, she seems to be the one truly calling the shots throughout, so she's certainly a sub with some authority. It's also nice to know that "Daddy" is one of your personal favorite pet names. Rawr.
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Postby JSparksFan » Thu May 10, 2018 2:23 am

phoenix98 wrote:Thanks for taking the time to confirm! That site's a new one on me, and it looks like a really useful resource for highlighting every single sample and cover (and probably more) in an act's catalog. :o
The Internet is an unmatched resource. You can find almost anything online!

phoenix98 wrote:]Hmmm...I think I'm missing something here. Based on your write-up, I thought it was the verses that you find lifeless and in need of some re-working, but I'm more inclined to agree with what you seem to be saying above. The "Funny How Time Flies..." chorus strikes me as more lifeless/robotic, especially with all that pausing between each word, while the verses are more...sumptuous. I swear I'm not just nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking - moreso worried that I’ve missed/misunderstood something somewhere along the way here.
Wait, I think multi-tasking bit me in the backside last night; what's in the write-up reflects how I feel regarding the weak verses and gorgeous chorus. The chorus feels like classic Janet, whereas the verses don't sound as well fleshed out as they could have been.

phoenix98 wrote:• Ha, that "beat don't stop until the break of dawn" guy does steal the show a bit (his line leaps to mind whenever I think of "And On And On"). Janet's on-point observation makes a charming impression too (she does something similar toward the end of the soundtrack/Number Ones version of "Doesn't Really Matter": "how long we doin' that?") The fact that a track with this much repetition landed this high seems like a testament to just how well it captures/conveys that breezy, playful, summery vibe.
Oh, I need to check out that version of "Doesn't Really Matter". I only know the album version and that club/island mix that I downloaded but can't find on YouTube. The more versions of that song, the better.

phoenix98 wrote:• Tender is such a perfect adjective for "Come Back To Me." It's a tricky case, since the song definitely makes an impact and touches on/stirs up some emotions...but the prolonged run-time really is palpable, especially once you get past the point you mentioned.
Glad we agree on this!

phoenix98 wrote:• It was very kind of you not to shame JD by name when you repeatedly mention how "the production" doesn't do the rest of "So Excited" justice. ;)
Well, Janet shares blame since she's a part of the production squad for that track.

phoenix98 wrote:• I've definitely been guilty of over-looking Discipline for many years now, but you make quite the case for it in your write-up (especially by connecting it to my much-loved "Rope Burn"). I'll admit this isn't terribly consistent of me, given my endearment toward that other ode to mixing pleasure and pain, but this time around she loses me a bit with lines like "take out your frustrations on me." As you mentioned, she seems to be the one truly calling the shots throughout, so she's certainly a sub with some authority. It's also nice to know that "Daddy" is one of your personal favorite pet names. Rawr.
I think the "frustrations" bit is more linked to stress from work/life than their relationship, so I think Janet is just encouraging her lover to be as...passionate as he desires to be, not to hold back, to...unload some of the built-up tension for a mutually beneficial experience.

As for that word, well, I'mma keep it cute, and just say it's one of my favourite words in the English language. (It works rather effectively in Spanish, too).
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Postby JSparksFan » Thu May 10, 2018 3:20 am

060. You Want This

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Lifted by a strong, bouncy instrumental, "You Want This" sees Janet teasing a prospective lover about his desire for her, but also letting him know that her heart is a prize not easily won. The only flaw with this song is its use of the epic Supremes song "Love Child". That track is one of the best creations in music history, so when I heard its instrumental early on in the song, my interest was immediately piqued, and I think Janet did a poor job of really working such a classic sample into the song. It's thoughtlessly thrown in, with the breadth of its magic never truly explored. I think I would enjoy this song more without the (failed) "Love Child" interpolation, as it's fun flirtation, which is a comfortable department for Janet, and which she executes well here. 8/10
059. Love Scene (Ooh Baby)

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Atmospherically, this is one of Janet's finest bedroom anthems. She starts the tale of seduction with sensual coos, segues into the foreplay in verse one, then gets more into narrating the action bits in verse two. Throughout, those deliciously erotic coos are stitched in as the chorus, and that rain sound effect at the end is a perfect conclusion. I love how the whole affair is esteemed with sophistication and class until she loses her cool a bit with the When you're f**king me line. It's a brilliant slip of the tongue to reflect the extent to which ecstasy can bring out different, rawer, uninhibited creatures in us. 8/10
058. One More Chance

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A cover of her brothers' 1984 recording, "One More Chance" puts Janet in the apology seat, a rare position for her, where she acknowledges the shortcomings that caused her lover pain, and pledges to right her wrongs if he's gracious enough to let her prove her devotion and commitment to the relationship. Janet's falsetto on the bridge is the clear highlight for me; she sounds angelic there. Again, there's the slight issue of this extending for a minute longer than it needs to, but maybe the empty instrumental outro was to give her lover sufficient deliberation time. 8/10
057. Accept Me

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Melodically, "Accept Me" is one of the lightest Velvet Rope tracks, but its message is equally as powerful as that of its sister tracks - accepting a partner for all of her intricacies, contractions, quirks, and flaws. It's so smooth that when Janet pauses on the That's the way it is bits, I half-expect her to segue into "That's the Way Love Goes". 8/10
056. Who

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The beat on this is sick! And the bridge is so rapid-fire, it's reminiscent of "If"! This song has aged rather well, and I think it was actually a bit ahead of its time, sonically, as its electro-R&B stylings sound like a more appropriate fit for Discipline than its All for You parent album. I could easily see this being the follow-up single to "Feedback". 8/10
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Postby phoenix98 » Thu May 10, 2018 3:00 pm

JSparksFan wrote:Wait, I think multi-tasking bit me in the backside last night; what's in the write-up reflects how I feel regarding the weak verses and gorgeous chorus. The chorus feels like classic Janet, whereas the verses don't sound as well fleshed out as they could have been.
Damn :( Thanks for clarifying...but I was definitely hoping it was the other way around. :lol:

JSparksFan wrote:Oh, I need to check out that version of "Doesn't Really Matter". I only know the album version and that club/island mix that I downloaded but can't find on YouTube. The more versions of that song, the better.
I'm no audiophile, but it's not majorly different from the All For You version to me: slightly longer overall, with a different intro and breakdown in the middle (in lieu of the album version's multiple instrumental/dance breaks). Plus a cuter outro.

I adore the song in either form, though. <3

JSparksFan wrote:I think the "frustrations" bit is more linked to stress from work/life than their relationship, so I think Janet is just encouraging her lover to be as...passionate as he desires to be, not to hold back, to...unload some of the built-up tension for a mutually beneficial experience.
Ah, well said! I'm totally on-board with interpreting it as "unload all that tension on me..." ;)

JSparksFan wrote:As for that word, well, I'mma keep it cute, and just say it's one of my favourite words in the English language. (It works rather effectively in Spanish, too).
:lol: ¡Dios mío!

• Hmmmm...I like The Supremes, and I like "Love Child," but I've never approached "You Want This" with the mindset of it really needing to prove itself worthy of incorporating that classic hit. I kind of see where you're coming from, though, and I'd probably do the same if I came across a track knowing that it somehow utilized a song that I consider one of the absolute greatest/personal favorites of all-time. For me, the inclusion of "Love Child" here works just fine, and serves to bolster a track that has many other charming qualities as well. That whole pre-chorus is such bliss, but it's the "girrrllls, may have been easy..." in particular that really hooks me. I appreciate the confidence that the whole track exudes, and it somehow never crosses the line into obnoxious/cocky territory, partially because it maintains this playful/flirtatious feel throughout. This has nothing to do with the song itself, but I also LOVE the single cover! That shot could've worked as the album cover (which is an iconic image in its own right, of course, but moreso for the uncropped Rolling Stone version). It's a very strong Top 10 contender for me (absolutely Top 20).

• Damn, you're really exposing my flop fan status with this batch: I've never checked out "One More Chance," "Accept Me," or "Who" before, since I only have the US editions of her albums (plus a handful of CD singles and janet. Remixed, which is how I got ahold of "And On And On" and "70's Love Groove") :oops: Apparently I've been missing out, since they've all been deemed nearly-Top 50-worthy! Your remarks about the bridge in "One More Chance" really rung true the instant that part hit.

• On first listen, it does seem like "Accept Me" would've felt a little out-of-place on The Velvet Rope (like how you mentioned it being lighter). Makes me wonder at which point in the recording process it was conceived. Solid B-side material, for sure.

• "Who" must be a grower. I can hear what you're saying about it sounding better fit for Discipline than All For You - but that's no compliment in my books. :lol:
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Postby JSparksFan » Sat May 12, 2018 6:00 pm

phoenix98 wrote:• Hmmmm...I like The Supremes, and I like "Love Child," but I've never approached "You Want This" with the mindset of it really needing to prove itself worthy of incorporating that classic hit. I kind of see where you're coming from, though, and I'd probably do the same if I came across a track knowing that it somehow utilized a song that I consider one of the absolute greatest/personal favorites of all-time. For me, the inclusion of "Love Child" here works just fine, and serves to bolster a track that has many other charming qualities as well. That whole pre-chorus is such bliss, but it's the "girrrllls, may have been easy..." in particular that really hooks me. I appreciate the confidence that the whole track exudes, and it somehow never crosses the line into obnoxious/cocky territory, partially because it maintains this playful/flirtatious feel throughout. This has nothing to do with the song itself, but I also LOVE the single cover! That shot could've worked as the album cover (which is an iconic image in its own right, of course, but moreso for the uncropped Rolling Stone version). It's a very strong Top 10 contender for me (absolutely Top 20).
Wow, I didn't know you had such strong feelings about "You Want This"! I'll have to add that to the ever-growing list of 'Songs that May Have Deserved Better' to revisit post-tribute.

phoenix98 wrote:• Damn, you're really exposing my flop fan status with this batch: I've never checked out "One More Chance," "Accept Me," or "Who" before, since I only have the US editions of her albums (plus a handful of CD singles and janet. Remixed, which is how I got ahold of "And On And On" and "70's Love Groove") :oops: Apparently I've been missing out, since they've all been deemed nearly-Top 50-worthy! Your remarks about the bridge in "One More Chance" really rung true the instant that part hit.
Glad you liked that "One More Chance" highlight! :D

phoenix98 wrote:• On first listen, it does seem like "Accept Me" would've felt a little out-of-place on The Velvet Rope (like how you mentioned it being lighter). Makes me wonder at which point in the recording process it was conceived. Solid B-side material, for sure.
Eh, I'd say it's a little bit better than that, but glad you have some degree of appreciation for it!

phoenix98 wrote:• "Who" must be a grower. I can hear what you're saying about it sounding better fit for Discipline than All For You - but that's no compliment in my books. :lol:
Well, Discipline does have that titillating title track, and, of course, "Feedback"! :wink:
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Postby JSparksFan » Sat May 12, 2018 6:50 pm

055. State of the World

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Crafted to make people aware of social issues "in a way they could dance to it", "State of the World" addresses teenage pregnancy, poverty, prostitution (these first three in verse one alone!), drugs, famine, homelessness, and depression over a new jack swing beat. As powerful as its highlighted topics may be, the song isn't quite as resonant as some of its sister tracks, which cover similar bases more effectively, but it's interesting to note that mainstream media discusses many of the same issues today as if they are recent occurrences, when they've been proliferating struggles for many decades now. 8/10
054. What Have You Done for Me Lately

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This song has so much going for it: a relatable plot featuring a gentleman who's slacked off post-honeymoon phase and left his lover feeling neglected, shady lyrics (Little things are all you seem to give), and a fun dance-pop-driven beat. So why don't I like it more than I do? Perhaps the production hasn't aged as well. Maybe it's that the melody is too consistent throughout, with no real shifts to provide some flavour. 8.1/10
053. Could This Be Love

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Kicking right off with a bouncy, swelling R&B melody, "Could This Be Love" traverses familiar territory for Janet as she apprehensively considers whether the feelings blossoming for her new beau are side effects of that four-letter beast. Interestingly enough, according to Genius, this song apparently appeared on unofficial early pressings of the album in Russia, positioned in the tracklisting between "Like You Don’t Love Me", and "Thinkin' Bout My Ex". However, the track was removed from the album, and the production was instead used for the song "Truth Hurts" on Usher’s Confessions. In the official version of Damita Jo, the spoken interlude that appears at the end of the song instead appears at the end of "Like You Don’t Love Me". Honestly, they should've kept this on the album, even if it meant axing "Like You Don't Love Me". 8.1/10
052. Truth

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Penned about her ex-husband Rene Elizondo Jr, who claimed stolen songwriting credits on as many as 37 of Janet's tracks, "Truth" is an answer to the idea that somehow this character in the background 'made' Janet the superstar she was. The chorus is basically Janet musing that she had a career, friends, family, and fans before he entered her life, and there's the unspoken declaration that she'll have all those things without him, too, as well as a not-so-subtle jab that she hopes his love was sincere. There are gorgeous vocal inflections from Janet on this track, and even though it's a fairly simple R&B ballad, I find the message to be strong and for some reason the melody is eerily familiar, as if the radio stations here played this when I was young. 8.1/10
051. Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You) (with Carly Simon)

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From a rather subtle jab to Rene in "Truth" to a full-out lyrical assault (and with company, too!) "Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You)" features several wonderful components: Janet's half-spoken, half-sung verses; Carly Simon's involvement (the "You're So Vain" sample, the new vocals, the poetic spoken intros and outros featuring Carly rambling about types of clouds); the unveiled attacks on Rene's character; and the brilliant production bit on the Ha, ha, who, who hook. There's so much going on with this track - too much at times, in fact - but this is definitely one of Janet's most adventurous efforts. 8.1/10
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Postby phoenix98 » Sat May 12, 2018 8:15 pm

JSparksFan wrote:Wow, I didn't know you had such strong feelings about "You Want This"! I'll have to add that to the ever-growing list of 'Songs that May Have Deserved Better' to revisit post-tribute.
Yes plz. :D

• Hmmmm...so we're basically in the top 30% now, which is pretty solid, but I still take some objection to "State Of The World" falling at No. 55. I don't see eye-to-eye with the assessment that other RN1814 tracks cover the same bases more effectively. Unless, by sister tracks, you were referring to the family that is her entire discography? "New Agenda" might be a worthy equal. For me, "State Of The World" hits the hardest of all the socially-conscious moments on RN1814. It doesn't make me roll my eyes like the cliché children's choir in "Livin' In A World," and it definitely holds my attention better than "The Knowledge." You might be referring to the title track, which is a strong song overall that does effectively rouse us to action, but it never actually outlines or illustrates any specific issues and struggles like she does in SOTW. I appreciate the titular metaphor in "Black Cat," but she still mostly side-steps actually discussing the issue at hand, only uttering the word "gang" once throughout the song. Much of "Black Cat" also shifts the focus to how his behavior affects her (the lonely nights, the deception) instead of truly targeting gang indoctrination. In SOTW, she paints us a (heartbreakingly clear) picture of a boy so impoverished, bullied, and hopeless that he's constantly on the verge of killing himself. A young woman who's left with the choice to either become a sex worker, or watch her child starve to death. Lyrically and sonically stellar, I think it's a pretty perfect representation of the more serious side of RN1814.

• I think I'm sometimes biased by "What Have You Done..."s status as her breakthrough smash - the single that truly started her on the path to becoming Janet the legend - so I appreciate your willingness to call it out and rank it more appropriately. I'd say it deserves a little more credit for the very poppy-flavored shift in melody during the bridge (middle 8? whatever it's called), though: "I never ask for more than I deserve..."

• Ooh...many thanks for the history lesson on "Truth." I was honestly unaware of all that background, and always assumed it was more generally targeted at all of the doubters/detractors/pretenders that she's surely encountered throughout her lengthy stretch of superstardom. It must be a good sign that the 6min45second runtime was never even broached during your review...

• A part of me loves the intense anger and vitriol that pervades "Son Of A Gun"...but, as a song oozing with such total disdain, I have to be in a pretty specific state of mind to want to hear it. If I'm not approaching the track already pretty pissed, her contempt can feel a bit overwhelming. Having it come close to (but just ever-so-narrowly miss out on) Top 50 seems really fair for the one.
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Postby JSparksFan » Tue May 15, 2018 12:01 am

phoenix98 wrote:• Hmmmm...so we're basically in the top 30% now, which is pretty solid, but I still take some objection to "State Of The World" falling at No. 55. I don't see eye-to-eye with the assessment that other RN1814 tracks cover the same bases more effectively. Unless, by sister tracks, you were referring to the family that is her entire discography? "New Agenda" might be a worthy equal. For me, "State Of The World" hits the hardest of all the socially-conscious moments on RN1814. It doesn't make me roll my eyes like the cliché children's choir in "Livin' In A World," and it definitely holds my attention better than "The Knowledge." You might be referring to the title track, which is a strong song overall that does effectively rouse us to action, but it never actually outlines or illustrates any specific issues and struggles like she does in SOTW. I appreciate the titular metaphor in "Black Cat," but she still mostly side-steps actually discussing the issue at hand, only uttering the word "gang" once throughout the song. Much of "Black Cat" also shifts the focus to how his behavior affects her (the lonely nights, the deception) instead of truly targeting gang indoctrination. In SOTW, she paints us a (heartbreakingly clear) picture of a boy so impoverished, bullied, and hopeless that he's constantly on the verge of killing himself. A young woman who's left with the choice to either become a sex worker, or watch her child starve to death. Lyrically and sonically stellar, I think it's a pretty perfect representation of the more serious side of RN1814.
I erred in pluralising the term; I should have written "track", as it's "Rhythm Nation" I'm referring to in saying that there's another song that bests "State of the World" in its 'message' contest. With "State of the World", even though it covers so many bases, it's a bit like Madonna's "Swim" in that it presents issues, but doesn't offer anything in the way of a solution to these issues. It doesn't stir the passion in me that "Rhythm Nation" does. "State of the World" says, "Here is a litany of social ills. Bye". I feel like "Rhythm Nation" says, "Here is a singular social ill that has a litany of nasty branches, and let's come together and use music - one of the greatest bridging forces - to combat it."

phoenix98 wrote:• I think I'm sometimes biased by "What Have You Done..."s status as her breakthrough smash - the single that truly started her on the path to becoming Janet the legend - so I appreciate your willingness to call it out and rank it more appropriately. I'd say it deserves a little more credit for the very poppy-flavored shift in melody during the bridge (middle 8? whatever it's called), though: "I never ask for more than I deserve..."
That's like moving from gear two to gear two and a half, in my opinion. I don't even count it as a full shift.

phoenix98 wrote:• Ooh...many thanks for the history lesson on "Truth." I was honestly unaware of all that background, and always assumed it was more generally targeted at all of the doubters/detractors/pretenders that she's surely encountered throughout her lengthy stretch of superstardom. It must be a good sign that the 6min45second runtime was never even broached during your review...
I didn't even notice it was that long! :lol:

phoenix98 wrote:• A part of me loves the intense anger and vitriol that pervades "Son Of A Gun"...but, as a song oozing with such total disdain, I have to be in a pretty specific state of mind to want to hear it. If I'm not approaching the track already pretty pissed, her contempt can feel a bit overwhelming. Having it come close to (but just ever-so-narrowly miss out on) Top 50 seems really fair for the one.
Glad that you think this one is appropriately ranked.

phoenix98 wrote:I went with janet. for the poll, since that covers potential candidates like "If," "That's The Way Love Goes," and "This Time" - but I could just as easily see it going in a few different directions. Hype! :D
One of these songs is falling in this next set!
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Postby JSparksFan » Tue May 15, 2018 1:01 am

050. You Can Be Mine

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Strong and well-rounded instrumentation, light-hearted lyrics, and Janet's jovial and warm vocals make for an impressive finished product on this Control cut. 8.1/10
049. This Time

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Janet is a connoisseur of music, and has done great work outside of her R&B, pop, and dance domain; "This Time" is one of her most impressive forays into rock, but leave it Ms. Jackson to add pop, funk, and even opera to the mix! The operatic vocals give this song a real mystery, flair, and melodrama; it would be a fantastic soundtrack to a scene in a horror film set on Halloween in an abandoned cemetery with Janet stalking the man that does her wrong, closing in on the kill and executing it just as the "You're dismissed!" closing remark plays. 8.2/10
048. Enjoy

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Janet's vocals are full and lush on "Enjoy", a track that's all about putting your mind at ease, reclining in a hammock on an abandoned island far away, and quietly inhaling joy and peace, and exhaling negativity and stress. I love how she stresses the gift of life line because I truly believe we forget that that's how life should feel like - a gift. Like most tracks in this vein, I have to say that I think it's true spirit rests on Damita Jo, though I am relieved that it made it onto 20 Y.O. as that album could use all the quality tracks it could get. 8.2/10
047. Any Time, Any Place

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Exquisite, richly layered production, cleverly inserted rain and thunder sound effects to further set the mood, and rather impressively emotional vocals about basically screwing your man wherever you feel inclined to, "Any Time, Any Place" is a stand-out song in Janet's catalogue. It's over seven minutes long, and each second feels filled with something for the ear to enjoy. 8.2/10
046. Dream Street

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Not even a low-budget production can dilute the optimism (refreshingly tempered with a strong sense of realism) expressed in "Dream Street". This single spawned Janet's very first music video, where she's beyond adorable. 8.2/10
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Postby phoenix98 » Tue May 15, 2018 3:30 pm

JSparksFan wrote:I erred in pluralising the term; I should have written "track", as it's "Rhythm Nation" I'm referring to in saying that there's another song that bests "State of the World" in its 'message' contest. With "State of the World", even though it covers so many bases, it's a bit like Madonna's "Swim" in that it presents issues, but doesn't offer anything in the way of a solution to these issues. It doesn't stir the passion in me that "Rhythm Nation" does. "State of the World" says, "Here is a litany of social ills. Bye". I feel like "Rhythm Nation" says, "Here is a singular social ill that has a litany of nasty branches, and let's come together and use music - one of the greatest bridging forces - to combat it."
That...makes perfect sense! The more I played the track over the past few days, I also recognized how the chorus doesn't really live up to the hard-hitting/gut-wrenching impact of the stories told in the verses, and just gets really generic (even verging on cheesy). I might've been a tad too eager to make the song sound flawless to defend it against that No. 55 placement.

JSparksFan wrote:That's like moving from gear two to gear two and a half, in my opinion. I don't even count it as a full shift.
Ouch :x I always felt like that part really sticks out (in a good way). It's like the track basically shifts into bubblegum-pop territory for a few lines (until things get more stern again with "you ought to be thankful, for the little things...")

JSparksFan wrote:One of these songs is falling in this next set!
Ha, yeah, I've definitely over-estimated your fondness for that song :lol: I think it's just stood out so clearly in my mind over all these years because it's a track I'd never expected to see spotlighted. Until it started performing so well on your personal chart, it stood among her most forgettable/insta-skippable moments for me (especially on that particular album), so its daily chart success had both the shock factor and the "What have I been missing?!" factor, encouraging me to re-examine my old impressions.

• Speaking of forgettable, I'd totally forgotten that "You Can Be Mine" hadn't fallen yet :lol: When I saw the Control cover, I just immediately started composing my response for "He Doesn't Know I'm Alive" in my head. I think it's the deadpan chorus that holds this one back for me (which also features that random pausing-between-words effect that's found on "Funny How Time Flies...").

• "Enjoy" had never stood out to me until word started circulating about it becoming an (ultimately Japan-only, video-less) single. Like you said, it really does capture that refreshing, relaxing, rejuvenating feel that some of Damita Jo's finest moments convey.

• I wish that "Any Time, Any Place" made me feel more than it does. On paper, I'm so ready to root for it...but I kept catching myself yawning as I was re-visiting it just now. Maybe the track's just too tender and romantic-sounding for a song whose message amounts to "you need to start f**kin' me right here, right now!" I'm getting déjà vu to my "Like You Don't Love Me" response. I'm not saying it should've been sub-100 or anything, I just wish it could successfully put me in the same state as "If," "Rope Burn," "Would You Mind," etc., because there's certainly a titillating story being told.

• I'd never checked out the "Dream Street" video before, and I definitely owe you for having encouraged me to finally do so now :lol: I can't say it sells me on the song much, but those green screen scenes in particular are truly a treasure! The whole story, with all the different settings, seems pretty elaborate for an artist's first-ever-video (and for a fourth single, no less) in the mid-80's, but I guess some/most of that is thanks to her being on Fame at the time?
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Postby Erotica » Tue May 15, 2018 5:58 pm

State of the world, You can be mine, This time and Son of a gun are great

I don't like Any place, any time at all
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Postby JSparksFan » Thu May 17, 2018 12:39 am

phoenix98 wrote:That...makes perfect sense! The more I played the track over the past few days, I also recognized how the chorus doesn't really live up to the hard-hitting/gut-wrenching impact of the stories told in the verses, and just gets really generic (even verging on cheesy). I might've been a tad too eager to make the song sound flawless to defend it against that No. 55 placement.
Everything at this point is quality, though!

phoenix98 wrote:Ha, yeah, I've definitely over-estimated your fondness for that song :lol: I think it's just stood out so clearly in my mind over all these years because it's a track I'd never expected to see spotlighted. Until it started performing so well on your personal chart, it stood among her most forgettable/insta-skippable moments for me (especially on that particular album), so its daily chart success had both the shock factor and the "What have I been missing?!" factor, encouraging me to re-examine my old impressions.
So having revisited it, what are your thoughts on the song now?

phoenix98 wrote:• Speaking of forgettable, I'd totally forgotten that "You Can Be Mine" hadn't fallen yet :lol: When I saw the Control cover, I just immediately started composing my response for "He Doesn't Know I'm Alive" in my head. I think it's the deadpan chorus that holds this one back for me (which also features that random pausing-between-words effect that's found on "Funny How Time Flies...").
Well, you were one batch too soon there. :wink:

phoenix98 wrote:• "Enjoy" had never stood out to me until word started circulating about it becoming an (ultimately Japan-only, video-less) single. Like you said, it really does capture that refreshing, relaxing, rejuvenating feel that some of Damita Jo's finest moments convey.
Yeah, the first time I played "Enjoy", I wasn't crazy about it, but it had a special quality that I knew I would likely grow to enjoy, and I did!

phoenix98 wrote:• I wish that "Any Time, Any Place" made me feel more than it does. On paper, I'm so ready to root for it...but I kept catching myself yawning as I was re-visiting it just now. Maybe the track's just too tender and romantic-sounding for a song whose message amounts to "you need to start f**kin' me right here, right now!" I'm getting déjà vu to my "Like You Don't Love Me" response. I'm not saying it should've been sub-100 or anything, I just wish it could successfully put me in the same state as "If," "Rope Burn," "Would You Mind," etc., because there's certainly a titillating story being told.
Eh, I like that juxtaposition, though I will say that, from what I've seen online, the song is slightly overrated. I originally ranked it lower, but it grew on me a bit.

phoenix98 wrote:• I'd never checked out the "Dream Street" video before, and I definitely owe you for having encouraged me to finally do so now :lol: I can't say it sells me on the song much, but those green screen scenes in particular are truly a treasure! The whole story, with all the different settings, seems pretty elaborate for an artist's first-ever-video (and for a fourth single, no less) in the mid-80's, but I guess some/most of that is thanks to her being on Fame at the time?
According to Wikipedia, yes!

Erotica wrote:State of the world, You can be mine, This time and Son of a gun are great

I don't like Any place, any time at all
Glad you like those four! "Any Time, Any Place" took some time to grow on me actually, so maybe it'll connect with you one day.
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Postby JSparksFan » Thu May 17, 2018 1:43 am

045. Go Deep

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Going into the song, with nothing but the title and Janet's reputation for sensuality as forecast tools, "Go Deep" did not meet my sonic or lyrical expectations, and I like that the R&B bedroom anthem I envisioned turned out to be a light, dance-funk, club-ready bop. Sex inevitably enters the equation, but only briefly, then we're right back to breezy, carefree rocking. The end with the voices cheerfully chiming in, quite choir-esque, is the perfect finish. 8.2/10
044. Nasty

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Inspired by altercations involving men being emotionally abusive and sexually threatening to Janet whilst the superstar was recording Control in Minneapolis, "Nasty" captures the spirit of the album better than every song on the record, save for the title track. Janet draws a line in the sand here, of what she will and won't accept from her suitors, which culminates in the now-iconic No, my first name ain't baby, it's Janet, Ms. Jackson if you're nasty! declaration. Although this is clearly a special song in Janet's discography, with a message of females demanding and receiving respect from men that I completely endorse, I must admit that I find "Nasty" overrated by fans and the general public. 8.2/10
043. He Doesn't Know I'm Alive

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I'd say 99% of us are guilty of pining away at the hands of a crush who we've not made it our business to inform of our existence. It's a very first-world adolescent problem on paper, but it can be quite a nerve-wracking dilemma for folk of all ages and backgrounds to approach a love interest, heart in hand, and express even the faintest semblance of affection, as that nasty shadow of rejection looms. So uber-relatable lyrical content aside, which sometimes broaches stalker territory (I call him, just to say hello, and when he answers, I always hang up), I love the Nothing ventured is nothing gained quote; the frivolity of the melody and youthful charm of Janet's vocals, which up the ante at parts with her gorgeous falsetto; and that brilliant saxophone that bookends the track. 8.2/10
042. My Need

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I've recently come to admire just how forthright Janet is with expressing her sexual desires, and it's that openness to communication about a subject that many people find uncomfortable discussing, even with their intimate partners, that sells this song for me. My favourite line is, Let's not get too soft and gentle with it 'cause I am not feelin' in no way to play around, as it's an assertive contrast to the more vulnerable tone of the song, which features Janet spending most of the runtime revealing just how much she needs her lover. The sweeping vocal bit at the end is a gorgeous climax. 8.2/10
041. You

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Being the social creatures that we are, human-beings sometimes find themselves in situations where the version of themselves that they wish to be directly contradicts the version of themselves that society, inclusive of family, friends, co-workers, and the like, may be willing to embrace. I think this comes about by seemingly innocent tweaks and compromises that, over time, leaves you a shadow of your original, true self. That can come in the form of overextending ourselves to fulfil work commitments to please supervisors, constantly supplanting one's plans with those of cherished familial members in shared activities, and essentially forgetting that we cannot serve others from an empty cup; sooner or later the self-neglect will rear its ugly head in truly devastating forms, depression typically, and it'll be a process of self-reconstruction to return yourself to some semblance of sanity. I love that Janet spells conscience backwards in the breakdown portion of the song, after having made reference to a mirror check in the chorus. I truly love everything about this song, as it is among the most relatable tracks for me in Janet's discography. 8.3/10
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Postby phoenix98 » Thu May 17, 2018 3:30 pm

JSparksFan wrote:So having revisited it, what are your thoughts on the song now?
Well...it still wouldn't be a Top 50 contender for me, but it does cover an impressive range of genres without sounding like a disjointed mess. It has a very grand, cinematic feel to it (like you illustrated with your horror film scenario). Ending with "you're dismissed" is fantastic (though it would've been nice if it didn't take 7+ minutes to get there) :oops: To expand upon your horror movie imagery, the chorus still leaves me feeling cold as a corpse, unfortunately.

• "Go Deep" is basically the reverse of my "Any Time, Any Place" situation: on paper, it doesn't seem all that special/noteworthy (especially on an album that covers far more impactful bases), but it still manages to keep me coming me back, and I enjoy the ride every. damn. time. I can't explain exactly why, but there's something especially charming about the way she accentuates that "we look good in black..." line. Maybe it's just that fact the song manages to capture the same sense of fun and frivolity that one would experience on an actual night out on-the-town with Janet and her crew. It's like she's truly taken us along.

• The bit you quoted from "Nasty" is easily the best part of the song, and I think it owes much of its current status to those lines alone. Overall, it's probably in my bottom 3 (maybe bottom 4?) from that album, so you're absolutely on-point for noting how it gets more praise/recognition than is truly warranted.

• "He Doesn't Know I'm Alive" is such a whiplash moment on Control: in every other track, she's asserting her position/feelings on various matters without hesitation, standing up for herself. Suddenly, she's this über-timid schoolgirl who can't even muster a single word over the phone because cute boys are just so intimidating :lol: Like you mentioned, I've been in those shoes before too, and the fact that it feels totally out-of-place in tone definitely doesn't stop it from being one of my most-revisited Control moments.

• There's a lot to love about "You." There's something I really appreciate about the stern, almost admonishing, tone that she takes with herself in the chorus: "you can't blame nobody but you." Maybe because that "beating yourself up" mindset is so relatable? (Though she doesn't go quite that far.) Sometimes it's just necessary to be firm and brutally honest with yourself, especially in order to save yourself from repeating self-destructive mistakes (as she's attempting to do here). "When you hate you, you hate everyone that day." Embarrassingly, I never knew she was spelling conscience backwards in the breakdown until now :lol: I always figured she was saying something like "See any...." and I just couldn't quite make out the rest clearly enough. Many thanks for FINALLY opening my eyes (and ears)!
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Postby Erotica » Thu May 17, 2018 3:59 pm

Go Deep is my favourite Janet song :)

and You is among her best too
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Postby biscuits » Thu May 17, 2018 4:08 pm

I will get round to this soon
TheRealest wrote:Chy tf plz biscuits girl
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Postby JSparksFan » Sun May 20, 2018 2:02 am

phoenix98 wrote:Well...it still wouldn't be a Top 50 contender for me, but it does cover an impressive range of genres without sounding like a disjointed mess. It has a very grand, cinematic feel to it (like you illustrated with your horror film scenario). Ending with "you're dismissed" is fantastic (though it would've been nice if it didn't take 7+ minutes to get there) :oops: To expand upon your horror movie imagery, the chorus still leaves me feeling cold as a corpse, unfortunately.
Fair enough. :lol:

phoenix98 wrote:• "Go Deep" is basically the reverse of my "Any Time, Any Place" situation: on paper, it doesn't seem all that special/noteworthy (especially on an album that covers far more impactful bases), but it still manages to keep me coming me back, and I enjoy the ride every. damn. time. I can't explain exactly why, but there's something especially charming about the way she accentuates that "we look good in black..." line. Maybe it's just that fact the song manages to capture the same sense of fun and frivolity that one would experience on an actual night out on-the-town with Janet and her crew. It's like she's truly taken us along.
It really does! I think Janet and her producers are brilliant when it comes to the atmospheric side of things. They really work to transport the listener to the appropriate setting.

phoenix98 wrote:• The bit you quoted from "Nasty" is easily the best part of the song, and I think it owes much of its current status to those lines alone. Overall, it's probably in my bottom 3 (maybe bottom 4?) from that album, so you're absolutely on-point for noting how it gets more praise/recognition than is truly warranted.
Glad we agree on this!

phoenix98 wrote:• "He Doesn't Know I'm Alive" is such a whiplash moment on Control: in every other track, she's asserting her position/feelings on various matters without hesitation, standing up for herself. Suddenly, she's this über-timid schoolgirl who can't even muster a single word over the phone because cute boys are just so intimidating :lol: Like you mentioned, I've been in those shoes before too, and the fact that it feels totally out-of-place in tone definitely doesn't stop it from being one of my most-revisited Control moments.
I'm fine with "He Doesn't Know I'm Alive" not neatly fitting into the theme of the album because your general setting can be confident/assertive, but in that department, most people fumble, whether male or female.

phoenix98 wrote:• There's a lot to love about "You." There's something I really appreciate about the stern, almost admonishing, tone that she takes with herself in the chorus: "you can't blame nobody but you." Maybe because that "beating yourself up" mindset is so relatable? (Though she doesn't go quite that far.) Sometimes it's just necessary to be firm and brutally honest with yourself, especially in order to save yourself from repeating self-destructive mistakes (as she's attempting to do here). "When you hate you, you hate everyone that day." Embarrassingly, I never knew she was spelling conscience backwards in the breakdown until now :lol: I always figured she was saying something like "See any...." and I just couldn't quite make out the rest clearly enough. Many thanks for FINALLY opening my eyes (and ears)!
Yeah, I think "You" is underrated. I'd never heard of it before delving into this tribute, and I don't remember seeing it around the forum when discussions of Janet's best tracks arose.

Erotica wrote:Go Deep is my favourite Janet song :)

and You is among her best too
Ah what a coincidence. "Deeper and Deeper" is your favourite Madonna song, and "Go Deep" is your favourite Janet song!

biscuits wrote:I will get round to this soon
No rush! 8-)
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Postby JSparksFan » Sun May 20, 2018 3:00 am

040. Days Go By

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The highest ranking song on 20 Y.O. is the Japanese edition cut "Days Go By". The recurring sentiment on the track is just how slow time seems to pass when Janet is without her lover - nothing at all special on paper - but the melody is so smooth and Janet's vocals so sincere and sugary that I can't help being sold on the track. 8.3/10
039. Where Are You Now

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Much like "One More Chance", where Janet apologises to a former lover for not cherishing the relationship the way she should have, "Where Are You Now" sees Janet in an almost exact scenario. She didn't understand the feelings she had for the guy at the time, laments presently that it must have been love (cue the Roxette classic), and finds herself in the position to adequately reciprocate the feelings that her ex had for her, but he's gone now, and may not be interested in receiving the love Janet's now willing to give. The common denominator in many of my favourite Janet tracks, this song is perfect for easy listening, with its gentle melody inclusive of classic balladry (if not slightly predictable) production shifts, and Janet's therapeutic voice. 8.3/10
038. Black Cat

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Channelling her inner rock diva, Janet blasts a boyfriend who's living on the wrong side of the law, referring to him as a "black cat" since he's escaped death so many times, but also because he's not a good influence on her. I love the commitment from Janet and her team to crafting an undiluted rock track. There are no pop, funk, or R&B elements - just good 'ol rock, with complementary metal elements. Janet's vocals are even well-aligned with the new genre; her anger and frustration are evident, but there's no shouting to try to capture the spirit of the genre, which I like. It's just Janet in a different form, but not forcing herself to be something she's not. The instrumentation on this is also hugely impressive; props to David Barry on the brilliant guitar riffs. 8.3/10
037. New Agenda

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Addressing the intersectionality of her race and gender, "New Agenda" is a funk-laden, hip-hop-heavy acknowledgement of Janet's unique struggles as an African-American woman. Whilst assertive in its tone, Janet takes the I-come-in-peace, I-will-counter-hate-with-love, MLK approach to her detractors. She exhibits pride here, and announces a new era where black women have equal rights and access to opportunities as everyone else. 8.3/10
036. Whoops Now

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Influenced by the work of Sly and the Family Stone, the Turtles, the Association, and Simon & Garfunkel, Janet approached this track with the intention of creating a feel-good jam. On "Whoops Now", work responsibilities interfere with planned escapades with friends until Janet's finally able to steal away to Anguila with her friends, and they chatter about all the fun activities they'll get into once they reach their destination. There's a girlish charm present throughout the song that I love, and, of course, the message of work sometimes becoming an all-encompassing struggle around which one's personal life is forced to orbit is painfully relatable! I'd say Janet successfully executed what she set out to achieve with this track. 8.4/10
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Postby Erotica » Sun May 20, 2018 9:09 am

Black Cat is one of her best songs, love it
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Postby phoenix98 » Sun May 20, 2018 6:00 pm

• Proclaiming that a Japan-exclusive bonus track is the finest moment on 20 Y.O. seems like a pretty clever (while still slightly subtle) way to shade that album :lol: On first listen, I'm certainly sold on "Days Go By" being standard-edition-worthy!

• Ha, you definitely got me smiling with that unexpected (but entirely fitting) Roxette shout-out in your "Where Are You Now" write-up :lol: This song has some really lovely, touching qualities ("tender" jumps to mind, harking back to your "Come Back To Me" review)...but it does border on slumberous at times, and I think that's what keeps me from feeling more enthusiastic about it.

• I was a little too hard on/dismissive of "Black Cat" when I was defending "State Of The World" earlier. I still prefer the latter, but "Black Cat" has a whole substance abuse angle that I totally glossed over in my other post, and I love the way you explained the titular metaphor. The fact that she draws attention to how his behavior has been impacting/harming her is a really significant aspect of substance abuse/risky behavior/"victimless crimes" (which is why we have things like Al-Anon). The genre-dabbling on display here is absolutely noteworthy too!

• Aw, I was hoping to see "New Agenda" even higher, but Top 40 is still a celebration-worthy benchmark! It's SUCH a shining example of style fused with substance: Janet brilliantly illustrating how you can make an impactful, personal, socially-conscious statement (several, really) within a radio-ready, bop-worthy earworm of a song. It also served as a great way to carry forward the spirit of RN1814 onto an album that otherwise keeps things pretty light (well, pretty hot-n-heavy, anyway). "but with every 'no,' I grow in strength, that is why, African American woman, I stand tall with pride..."

• A lot of what we were saying about the atmosphere in "Go Deep" applies just as well to "Whoops Now," which places us right there with Janet and her girls as we try to orchestrate a (much-needed) group vacation. Including all of their background banter works brilliantly to further enhance that feeling of being brought into her world. "Girlish charm" is SO right, especially in the chorus! :D
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Postby JSparksFan » Wed May 23, 2018 3:26 am

Erotica wrote:Black Cat is one of her best songs, love it
Glad you like it! :)

phoenix98 wrote:• Proclaiming that a Japan-exclusive bonus track is the finest moment on 20 Y.O. seems like a pretty clever (while still slightly subtle) way to shade that album :lol: On first listen, I'm certainly sold on "Days Go By" being standard-edition-worthy!
20 Y.O. isn't awful, but it does deserve shade! :lol:

phoenix98 wrote:• Ha, you definitely got me smiling with that unexpected (but entirely fitting) Roxette shout-out in your "Where Are You Now" write-up :lol: This song has some really lovely, touching qualities ("tender" jumps to mind, harking back to your "Come Back To Me" review)...but it does border on slumberous at times, and I think that's what keeps me from feeling more enthusiastic about it.
I think what you consider "slumberous" is what I identified as "easy listening" and "gentle". It's amazing how a single quality can elicit completely different emotions from different listeners.

phoenix98 wrote:• I was a little too hard on/dismissive of "Black Cat" when I was defending "State Of The World" earlier. I still prefer the latter, but "Black Cat" has a whole substance abuse angle that I totally glossed over in my other post, and I love the way you explained the titular metaphor. The fact that she draws attention to how his behavior has been impacting/harming her is a really significant aspect of substance abuse/risky behavior/"victimless crimes" (which is why we have things like Al-Anon). The genre-dabbling on display here is absolutely noteworthy too!
Wow, I'd never heard of that organization before! I can definitely see the usefulness of it, though, and having a community of people who can relate to the issues you're having caring for an alcoholic is a powerful thing indeed.

phoenix98 wrote:• Aw, I was hoping to see "New Agenda" even higher, but Top 40 is still a celebration-worthy benchmark! It's SUCH a shining example of style fused with substance: Janet brilliantly illustrating how you can make an impactful, personal, socially-conscious statement (several, really) within a radio-ready, bop-worthy earworm of a song. It also served as a great way to carry forward the spirit of RN1814 onto an album that otherwise keeps things pretty light (well, pretty hot-n-heavy, anyway). "but with every 'no,' I grow in strength, that is why, African American woman, I stand tall with pride..."
It's interesting because whilst I applaud Janet for tackling multiple formidable issues in her discography, I think it's those more subtle message songs that are more resonant with me, and we'll explore that as we ascend the upper echelons of this tribute. I do enjoy "New Agenda" quite a bit, though!

phoenix98 wrote:• A lot of what we were saying about the atmosphere in "Go Deep" applies just as well to "Whoops Now," which places us right there with Janet and her girls as we try to orchestrate a (much-needed) group vacation. Including all of their background banter works brilliantly to further enhance that feeling of being brought into her world. "Girlish charm" is SO right, especially in the chorus! :D
Definitely!
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Postby JSparksFan » Wed May 23, 2018 4:19 am

035. Come on Get Up

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On paper, this is a rather straightforward, perhaps even basic, dance track, but I love its energy, from Janet telling her man to shake his ass for her (refreshing role reversal moment here), to the gulp-like bass moments, to the catchy sing-along chorus. Whatever this song does, "Doesn't Really Matter" does better, but it's a fun moment, punctuated by Janet's hilarious declaration that she's vibrating. 8.4/10
034. God's Stepchild

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Melodically light, "God's Stepchild" is one of many vulnerable Velvet Rope tracks, with Janet chronicling the (auto)biography of a young girl with low self-esteem, who internalised hurt and pain, but would eventually mature into a young woman who owned her flaws and imperfections, having learned to love herself through the years. She comes to the conclusion that God doesn't have a stepchild, that He loves all of His creations equally. Despite my wavering belief in religion of any kind, it's a lovely, comforting sentiment to consider that an all-powerful being is looking down upon you with your best interest at heart, and with seemingly insurmountable challenges merely being learning blocks to help you unlock your greatest self. 8.4/10
033. Twenty Foreplay

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How Janet Jackson makes even being taken from behind sound classier than the annual Met Ball is beyond me, but there's a spicy flavouring to this groovy, lush melody. I love the verse-chorus transition, where she moves from tender balladry to a more funky, uptempo affair. The clever play-on-words of foreplay and 24 hours makes Janet's intentions for her lover clearer than the schedule he'll need to have to satisfy her desires. 8.4/10
032. I'm Here

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As a Mariah fan, I have to say that "I'm Here" is quite reminiscent, lyrically, of Mariah's "Anytime You Need a Friend", as Janet presents herself as counsellor to a friend who appears to be disenchanted with the idea of romantic love, presumably after a particularly crippling break-up. In our times of need, having a friend to help us put ourselves back together is a priceless gift, and Janet lays the empathy, encouragement, reassurance, and philia love on thick. She's most effective in the verses, where she's half-speaking, half-singing the immense value she sees in her friend that he or she may be presently unable to see in his or herself. The chorus is beautiful, too, as Janet's soprano voice spreads its wings and soars in full flight. 8.4/10
031. Black Eagle

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Unbreakable has a handful of songs that feel Rhythm Nation-esque in their direct and indirect commentary on social issues, and "Black Eagle" touches on anxiety (Just remember when you're overwhelmed, dream and take some time to love yourself) and exclusion (I'm singing this love song to show my support to the beautiful people who have been ignored, with blind eyes and cold shoulders attacking them, invisible people they won't let fit in, let's open our eyes to the true barriers. The exclusion bit rings so powerfully considering the anti-immigrant policies enacted by some of the world's most powerful nations, but it's a blanket moment, adequately encompassing all of the isms that we as a human race use to divide and subdivide ourselves until we're broken down into almost single-numbered parties. I love how mysterious this track is, particularly the illustration of the black eagle character watching over us (perhaps wishing we could put hate aside and love and take care of each other), and I appreciate how it's another light vocal performance from Janet, as it really gives room to unpack its many layers. 8.5/10
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