After 25 years of making albums, I decided to listen to all of Janet Jackson's tracks before reviewing her 10th album, Discipline. Here are the recommended songs from each album, except for the debut self-titled one because it's best forgotten.
Dream Street (1984)
It failed terribly as a sophomore album, but I still managed to find two tracks that I'd download.
+ "Hold back the tears": Super vague lyrics, but the chorus is catchy.
+ "If it takes all night": A danceable song about a girl who isn't afraid to go after a guy she really wants.
+ "Control": Janet croons about her need to be treated like a grown woman in her declaration of independence. Favorite line: "When I was 17/I did what people told me, uh/I did what my father said/And let my mother mold me"
+ "Nasty": She declares that she's not into disgusting, degrading men and utters the infamous line, "No/My first name aint baby/It's Janet/Miss Jackson if you're nasty." Check out the cameo from Paula Abdul.
+ "The Pleasure Principle": She sings about wasting her time with a guy who isn't worth it.
+ "When I Think of You": It's my all time favorite Janet song, a super simple love song.
Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)
With every album, Miss Jackson got better at her trade.
+ "Rhythm Nation": She sings about our multicultural world and a need for unity. It's the first signs of a revolutionary Janet.
+ "Miss you much": She pours her heart out about missing a guy she may or may not love.
+ "Love will never do without you": Ahh, the legendary Antonio Sabato Jr.-playing-on-the-beach video.
+ "Alright": She validates her romantic emotions in a 40s gangster dance video.
+ "Escapade": In the video, she gets in touch with her African roots while singing about a boy she’s interested in.
+ "Black Cat": It's one of the first signs of a superbad Janet, singing about a selfish guy.
+ "That's the way love goes": The slow jam that's seduced countless men. See if you can spot J.Lo.
+ "If ": This sultry track, where she's sings about seducing another woman's man, is best known for it's pumping beat with a killer electric guitar and Janet's legendary dance move imitated by kids and grown ass people everywhere...even today.
+ "Again": She sings a memorable ballad about trying not to fall back in love with her ex.
The Velvet Rope (1997)
+ "Got 'til it's gone": Janet style a kooky hair cut and rapper Q-Tip helps her lecture about appreciating what you have in life.
+ "Together Again": Janet sports full-on ethnic wardrobe to sing about the confidence that her lover gives her.
+ "Every Time": She sings about her fear to open her heart to someone again and manages to spend an entire video not dancing and not wearing clothes.
+ "I Get so Lonely": A red-headed Janet expresses how much she needs her man.
All For You (2001)
This is about the time Janet tries to relate to the cool kids, but still manages to not come off as a wannabe.
+ "You aint right": Janet gripes about a friend who started talking shit about her behind her back.
+ "All for you": Not a stranger to overt sexual advances, Janet sings about a guy's "package" and offers herself up to "ride it."
+ "Son of a Gun" remix: Missy Elliot, Carly Simon, and P. Diddy join Janet to sing about a trifling man.
+ "Someone to call my lover": Janet admits her weakness for falling in love too easily.
+ "Doesn't really matter": Janet falls into the gap with a serious amount of product placement for a mechanical pet and the movie The Nutty Professor. Nonetheless, it's a catchy tune.
Damita Jo (2004)
+ "All Nite (Don't Stop)": It sounds like she's singing about dancing, but it's just her clever ability to squeeze in sexual inuendo into every verse.
+ "Just a little while": It's almost the most irrelevant video I've ever seen, but even though it's just another ego boost for men, it's as catchy as ever.
20 Y.O. (2006): Sexy. Dancing. Blissful repetition.
+ "So Excited"
+ "Show Me"
+ "Get it out me"
Discipline (2008) ***
I liked a majority of the songs off her 10th album, even though it took me a while to appreciate her first single "Feedback" and I'm only a little enthusiastic about her sultry 2nd single "Rock with U." I actually prefer "LUV ," her ode to accidentally falling in love, "Rollercoaster," a metaphor about the way love makes her feel, "Greatest X," a lamentful ballad--the only slow song I liked--about letting a good guy go, "So Much Betta," where she tries to take another woman's man, and "The 1," my favorite track off the album that has a grand band, ironically like Amerie's "One Thing," which would make a great 3rd single.
I'd say this album is her best since Rhythm Nation 1814, but it would probably be better if her songs had more pop culture references, broader topics, and overall substance. She's finally improved the production, she just has to put more effort into the lyrics. She's 41 years old and the sex kitten bit can only last for so long.