25 years ago today, Janet Jackson dropped one of her most iconic bodies of work, janet. But beyond the title there was nothing lower-case about about it. From the track list, to the interludes to the cover, Jackson put the world on notice that she was sexually liberated and grown AF.
Not surprising the album went on to become her biggest-selling LP, notching six top 10 singles (including two No. 1s) on the Billboard Hot 100. In celebration of this classic’s silver anniversary, here are our 5 reasons why it will forever be our favorite.
For the now iconic cover, a tightly cropped portrait of her face, was revealed in full on the September 1993 cover of Rolling Stone. Janet stood shirtless, wearing only unbuttoned jeans, with her then-husband Rene Elizondo’s hands covering her breasts.
Jackson’s namesake album didn’t only sound different, it looked different too, right down to the tile. “ janet.” was a statement that she didn’t want, or need, to ride on the legacy of her family’s name. Hot on the heels of a bidding war and inking a 40 million dollar deal with Virgin, it was also a subtle nod to her world wide fame, and that she was now a bonafide mononymous star.
While “Control” established her as a pop star on the level of her brother; “janet.” marked her sexual liberation. With songs like “Any time, Any place,” “Throb” and “If” Janet used elements of hip-hop, house, and even opera to lead a sexual awakening. Jackson told Billboard that the project “had a deeply sensual edge, because that’s what I was going through in my life.” It was a form of feminism in a way that hadn’t been packaged across the country before, one that was truly intersectional and not delivered by white women.
Before double disc’s Jackson dropped a whopping 28 song tracklist, right who does that? But there was a method to the musical madness. Each song was seamlessly bookend with interludes, creating a rhythm and set-up for the next. “Be a Good Boy” was an eight-second request for safe sex that transitions into the wailing guitars on “If,” a song about her fantasies.
Jackson released 8 music videos from the album and every one helped visually bring her songs to life and also showcase her badass dance skills. From the sexy “That’s the Way Love Goes” to the “If” (which featured one of the most famous dance breaks of all time) to “You Want This” each featured amazing choreography that soon became as memorable as the song. And then of course there were sultry vids for tracks like “Anytime, Anyplace” that helped move her narrative of sexual independence forward.
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