After a lengthy break on the bench, ‘TGJ Replay’ is back!
Designed much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ features, ‘Replay’ is That Grape Juice‘s newest retrospective segment – a written quest, if you will, to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday.
Unlike its ‘Rewind’ and ‘Vault’ predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase entire albums (and eras) from a library of pop and Urban pop music hits. As this week marks the 25th anniversary of the release of ‘Rhythm Nation’ – the now legendary fourth album from pop superstar Janet Jackson, we are set to deliver our biggest ‘Replay’ yet in homage to the Queen.
It all awaits below:
Yes, we read you brag about the stats of your faves on a daily basis. But, if you want to talk stats, let’s talk the yet-outranked stats attributed Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’ album and accompanying era.
In a nutshell:
- First album in history to achieve 7 top 5 singles
- First and only album to score #1 singles over three different calendar years
- Tied for 2nd place of ‘most #1 singles from one album’ – a feat shared by Paula Abdul
- ‘Rhythm Nation’ tour still ranks as the most successful debut world tour (a feat challenged by Lady Gaga)
- On the hems of ‘Rhythm Nation,’ Janet Jackson became the first woman in Grammy history to be nominated for ‘Producer of the Year’
- First artist to have a #1 hit on ‘Mainstream Rock’ chart and ‘Billboard Hot 100’ simultaneously with ‘Black Cat’
The aforementioned only tip the iceberg of the accolades and recognition afforded to ‘Rhythm Nation’ – an album considered by critics across the board to be one of the greatest ever produced. Birthed from 1989 studio sessions with Jackson and her longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the album – much like its predecessor ‘Control’ – was designed to be a statement piece. Unlike ‘Control,’ ‘Rhythm’s statement was more of an extrospective examination of the ‘state of the world’ (all pun intended). Much to the group’s chagrin, the success of ‘Control,’ however, prompted pressure from the label to deliver an album with a similar sonic formula. Jackson, on the other hand, had other plans.
In a world where the time’s leading pop stars – Madonna, Whitney Houston, former choreographer Paula Abdul, and even her brother, Michael Jackson, were more fixated on making the world dance, Janet opted to take a risky move and create a socially conscious body of work. Filled with a melting pot of sounds from new jack swing to R&B, pop, and rock, the feat would prove itself even more of a challenge as the then 23 year old continued to try to remove herself from the shadow of her wildly successful, yet controversial older brother.
Interestingly, borrowing a page from her older brother, Jackson introduced the concept album with a short film. Comprised of three music videos – ‘Miss You Much,’ ‘The Knowledge,’ and title track ‘Rhythm Nation,’ the film’s black-and-white theme were reportedly used to demonstrate ‘racial harmony.’ Chock-full of high octane dance moves delivered with military precision, the films would not only launch her most successful era to date – but take the music world by storm and become the year’s top seller.
While ‘Miss You Much’ skyrocketed to #1 on the Hot 100 (her third best performing single there to date), ‘Rhythm Nation’ marched to #2 alongside a music video still influencing today’s crop of female stars.
Opting to take a lighter approach for succeeding singles, Jackson entered 1990 by tapping fan favorites ‘Escapade’ and ‘Alright’ to follow the mega successes of ‘Miss You Much’ and ‘Rhythm Nation.’ The move would prove itself lucrative. Accompanied by music videos with cinematic quality rivaled only by her brother Michael, Janet would exceed and set the mark for female videos to follow.
Landing her two more top 5 singles (with ‘Escapade’ peaking at #1), it was becoming more and more evident that she was the new face of female pop music.
With four heavy dance-laden tracks to kick off the album, Jan sought to display the project’s sonic versatility with the follow-up singles ‘Come Back To Me’ and ‘Black Cat.’ The former, a heart-wrenching R&B slow jam decorated in an innocence all but mastered by the youngest Jackson, the latter would be just the opposite – an angry, guitar drenched number reminding listeners of the attitude oft-referenced in the “Miss Jackson if you nasty” days of ‘Control.’
‘Come Back To Me’ may have been blocked from the #1 spot by Mariah Carey‘s ‘Vision of Love’ during its tenure on the charts, but ‘Cat’ would claw its way to the tally’s perch and the history books. The rise gave her the 3rd #1 single and 6th consecutive top 5 single from one album. In addition, it became the first song in history to top the ‘Mainstream Rock’ and ‘Hot 100’ charts simultaneously – an all the more impressive feat for an African American female artist.
By fall 1990, the stats that accompanied ‘Rhythm Nation’ seemed almost insurmountable. In true Jackson fashion, however, she opted to continue to push the envelope by using the platform of music video as a way to segue into her next era. With the now classic ‘Love Will Never Do Without You’ visual, Janet shed her all black-clad/key earring wearing/cookie cutter image by unveiling a svelte physique with bare midriff to boot.
The move – yet again – would prove itself devoid of misstep. Giving the album its last #1, the feat would cement Jackson in history books as the first and only artist to have a #1 single in three different calendar years from one album.
As if recollecting chart stats was not exhausting enough, it might take help from TGJ staff in its entirety to recount accolades.
In a nutshell:
- 1 Grammy
- 2 MTV Video Music Awards
- 4+ American Music Awards
- 7+ Billboard Music Awards
- A number of other industry awards, accolades
To date, ‘Rhythm Nation’ remains cited as Janet’s quintessential, must hear album. The era would prove itself without flaw and set ablaze a path of inspiration for female artists to come including Beyonce, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Ciara, and many more. On any given day, it’s not a thing for you to hear ‘Come Back To Me,’ ‘Love Will Never Do Without You,’ or ‘Lonely’ blasting from speakers here at TGJ HQ.
Now, we will charge you with the task of answering: