(Released February 4th, 1986)
Over the last three decades, Janet Jackson has made a name as one of the greatest entertainers in history and it all began with the release of her third studio album Control. Yes, you read that right, her THIRD studio album; apparently her first two shots at the top of the charts (Janet Jackson and Dream Street) have been wiped from our memories and in the words of Evelyn Braxton “Thank God for Jesus!” During those efforts Janet was merely a puppet and had to adhere to what her father’s vision of her career was. But after those endeavors flopped harder than Jackie ever could, Ms. Jackson was introduced to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and a new beginning was born.
Control showcased that the youngest of the Jackson clan had all the makings of a star, unlike her other siblings whose names aren’t Michael. On Control, Jimmy, Terry and Jackson started building one of the strongest Producer-Artist bonds known in the industry, so strong that when the singer strayed from her winning formula in the mid-2000s it was beyond apparent. This album is where the songstress declared “this is a story about control, my control. Control of what I say, control of what I do. And this time I’m gonna do it my way” and “no my first name ain’t baby, it’s Janet, Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty” and throughout this era she made sure to let everyone know that she wasn’t just another artist of the moment. From the album itself, the visuals and stage performances it was hit after hit after hit.
Control is every bit of new-age 80s from the dominant title track, the borderline stalkerish He Doesn’t Know I’m Alive, When I Think Of You, the coming of age Let’s Wait Awhile and Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun) which has been sampled throughout the years, most recently from up and coming singer Tinashe on How Many Times. Regardless of how you may feel about Janet Jackson, there’s no denying the empire she’s been able to build and it all started with Control.
So many artists of today are still waiting to have their breakout moment while being 10+ years in the game and most of them will never come close to the blueprint that Janet created. While fans continue to wait and hope that we’ll receive revamped versions of these albums like what has been done with Michael Jackson‘s projects over the years, for now we can revisit the greatness and appreciate what she’s been able to do in the realm of music.