Saturday, October 12, 2019

"Control" by Janet Jackson

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2919
Date:  11/01/1986
Debut:  73
Peak:  5
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Thus far, Jackson's Control album was three-for-three. Three Pop and R&B Top 10 hits, three gold records. Was there a chance for a fourth? This defiant title track got issued out and the answer to the question was - yes! The single became Jackson's third #1 at R&B and her second #1 at Dance. While it didn't reach the top of the Pop chart, it did become her fourth Top 5 hit and it was also her fourth gold record in a row. This put her on-pace with her brother Michael's run of singles from Thriller. That LP's first four singles were all Pop Top 5 entries as well. At the time, two of the singles would be platinum sellers and one gold.

ReduxReview:  This was such a great album opener. Jackson made a statement right from the get-go and you knew you were in for a terrific ride. I remember writers, critics, etc., were all like "Janet has grown up!" Indeed she had and she developed into a strong, independent woman. There are some artists that gradually mature over time with each release, but with Jackson it was just an immediate and decisive change from her 1984 bubblegum Dream Street album to the gauntlet throwing Control. The LP's run of singles started off with the outstanding "What Have You Done for Me Lately," but it was this song that tied everything together. It was basically a big eff-off to her family (dad in particular) and nothing would be the same for Jackson after this.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  A nine-minute video was shot for this song. While the bulk of it was a performance-style video of the song (with choreography by Paula Abdul), the front section was an acted out drama with Janet trying move away from her parents. She ends up in an argument with her dad. Both the song and the mini-drama were not unlike Jackson's real life as she had been in the process of separating herself from her family, especially from her dad who had also been her manager. In the video, the woman portraying Jackson's mother is actress Ja'net DuBois. It wasn't DuBois' first time playing Jackson's mom. DuBois co-starred on the hit TV comedy Good Times. Jackson would join the show in its fifth season playing Penny, an abused child who ended up abandoned by her parents. DuBois' character, Willona, ends up adopting Penny. Jackson was on the last two season of the show. In the "Control" video, Jackson's father was played by Jerome Benton. He is the brother of former Time member (and Jackson co-writer/producer) Terry Lewis. While Benton was not an actual member of The Time, he became associated with them playing comedic bits on stage on occasion. Folks may remember him from the movie Purple Rain in which he played Morris Day's bodyguard/valet. Benton's most memorable scene is when he runs on stage with a mirror during The Time's performance in order for Day to check his hair. Benton would also make appearances in Prince's two other films Under a Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge.


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