Wednesday, May 2, 2018

DAY 2 of Top 10 Albums that Shaped My Life

Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore Janet Jackson. There are so many layers to her artistry, if you pay attention. In the late 1980s, there seemed to be so much pressure on Janet to become as successful as her brother and while she shared trademark moves and a string of successful hits like her brother, she is an artist all her own. Her third album, “Control,” was regarded as her debut album even though the “Janet Jackson” and “Dream Street” albums didn’t garner any hits. These early albums had their own charm though, but no one seemed to notice her until “Control.” With its huge success, I could sense the pressure around her.

As a fan, I had been paying attention to her early on; from Good Times to Fame to Different Strokes and beyond. But this all pales in comparison to the Rhythm Nation album itself. She took a leap that turned any preconceptions we had of her on their head. It was an album with a strong statement, a strong concept, and a penetrating set of hit songs. It was an album you had to hear from beginning to end. I loved how socially conscious Janet was in her lyrics and how she challenged the public’s perception of her as this squeaky clean person. She was socially conscious, yes, but she was also sexy, smart and thoughtful. The hidden meanings were there as well. For example, the title of the album is Rhythm Nation 1814 contains hidden meanings.

The first meaning of “1814” is that R (Rhythm) is the 18th letter in the alphabet and N (Nation) is the 14th. Hence 1814. The second meaning is pretty awesome as Janet explained, “While writing Rhythm Nation, I was kidding around saying, “God you guys, I feel like this could be the national anthem for the 90’s…Just by a crazy chance we decided to look up when Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem and it was September 14, 1814.”

Listen to the album by clicking on the link below: