Janet Jackson broke the mold on February 4, 1986. While many revere the classic Control as her first album, it was actually her third. The album reintroduced Janet to the world and made her an icon. Control also marks the beginning of one of the greatest artist-producer partnerships ever made in the music industry. Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis made an unstoppable team. They crafted a unique brand of femininity, empowerment and confidence that many of today’s artists still look to today.
Ironically, this year’s anniversary fell on the Super Bowl. It’s been 14 years since Justin Timberlake performed alongside Janet Jackson at the half time show. Everyone remembers the infamous “wardrobe malfunction”, right? Many fans took to social media and declared it #JanetAppreciationDay, eclipsing the anticipation of Justin Timberlake’s performance. However, after one listen to Control, it’s not hard to see why. She declared independence and the freedom to make her own choices (“Control”). She told young women that it’s ok to wait before having sex (“Let’s Wait A While”). The female stereotype for sex appeal was redefined (“Nasty”).
Control featured an astonishing seven hit singles (of an album that only included nine tracks). Even in today’s era, that’s virtually unheard of for one album. She exuded sex appeal without exploitation on hits like the boisterous “Pleasure Principle” and the scrubs before there were scrubs anthem, “What Have You Done For Me Lately”. Don’t mistake it. There would be no Beyonce, Rihanna, SZA or countless other female artists without Janet Jackson’s influence. The album is just as relevant today (if not more) than it was when it was first released. Let’s also not forget that Janet Jackson is still selling out tours and looking phenomenal while doing so (at the age of 51).
I guess it really is funny how time flies when you’re having fun (and making hits). To this day, Control still holds the record for the highest amount of American Music Awards nominations from one album. Five singles from the album peaked in the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. Control also holds a spot on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the 200 Definitive Albums of All Time. Let’s take a walk down memory lane with some of the biggest highlights from the Control era. Janet paved the way for a long trajectory of accolades and setting records, to prove why she is the GOAT (greatest of all time).