#MusicMonday – February 1, 2021

Like a moth to a flame, burned by the fire. My love is blind. Can’t you see my desire?

Perhaps desire is unseen, but Music Monday…that’s very visible.

Welcome to Valentine Month at Allison’s Written Words!

I started thinking this sounded like one of those Calvin Klein commercials from the mid-1980s. You know the ones – perfume, people saying random dialogue, sitting on stairs, “oh the smell of it!” The perfume commercial was like a music video, but without music, and the way I see it, the forerunner for the style of 1990s music videos; specifically, today’s music video.

This month, the music genre is love songs, as we count down to the day of love, starting off with a 1993 song that was the beginning of an artist’s reinvention, both in style and song.

“That’s The Way Love Goes” is a single by Janet Jackson, released on April 20, 1993 as the lead single album janet. (yes, with a lowercase “J” and a period, meaning “Janet, period”). The album was released a few weeks after this single. This album came as Jackson’s first on Virgin Records, after fulfilling her contract with A&M. Jackson sought to defy criticism that her success was because of her family, and led her to write the lyrics to all of the songs on this album. The theme of the album, the songs, and the title were all an attempt to reinvent her image – from conservative to sexual, and from industrial sound to a mix of R&B, Hip Hop, Opera, House, and Jazz. Even the album title was part of her reinvention, dropping her surname in favor of disassociating her public image from her family.

Of course, I totally remember that album cover, and how this was one of those albums that if my mom had known about it, would never have let me get it. I was 11 years old when I bought it to practice for a dance recital (I danced to “Funky Big Band” in 1994, which is a great song – look it up), and I loved some of the songs from constant MTV watching, but seriously, I was shocked when I saw that other picture.

Image: Wikipedia (Virgin Records, Fair use)

Haha, you really believed I was going to post it!

I mean, I did buy it in the name of dance, so that qualifies as “research,” right?

The original tone of “That’s The Way Love Goes” was lovelorn, but Jackson was initially indifferent with the instrumentals. She contacted her producer, Jimmy Jam, to tell him that much. It was during a vacation over the Christmas holiday that Jackson listened to the instrumentals again, and changed how she felt about it. The song was recorded in January 1993, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The single topped several Billboard charts – Hot 100, Dance Club Songs, Hot Dance Singles Sales, Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs, Mainstream Top 40, and Rhythmic. For the year ending 1993, “That’s The Way Love Goes” was #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #17 on the Decade-end chart (1990-1999) of the Billboard Hot 100. For all time Billboard Hot 100 1958-2018, this single holds spot #405. The single was the one of the longest-running chart toppers of 1993, with eight weeks on the Hot 100, one of the longest charting #1 singles by a Jackson family member. There’s awards, covers, influence, and the “acting” debut of a then-unknown (she was a Fly Girl at the time, so I find the “unknown” factor hard to believe) Jennifer Lopez, who has dialogue at the beginning of the video.

Oh, and that music video…

The video plays like a short film, with Janet and her friends sitting around, trying to convince her to play her new single. Janet refuses, but the tape gets grabbed out of her hand by one of the friends, who starts it, and then stops it to give her approval of it. She resumes it, and the video goes from there. I love the tone of the video, and this song is the perfect lead off to an amazing album, in a succession of great Janet Jackson albums.

Janet Jackson music was the standard of dance recitals. I don’t really remember a show between, say, 1991 and 1998, that didn’t have a Janet Jackson song in it. And that includes the recital when I danced to “Funky Big Band,” and the song “If” was in the same recital. “Rhythm Nation,” “Miss You Much, “Escapade,” “State of the World,” “Runaway,” – all in dance recitals. Paula Abdul and Madonna were popular at the time, but even they didn’t get this kind of recital play.

Janet Jackson’s reinvented image would benefit her during this time, with a succession of albums capitalizing on this image in the ten years before that image caused controversy at the Super Bowl in 2004. Of course, I remember that moment (don’t we all?) – I was eating dinner with my parents at Fuddrucker’s on the way home from seeing Movin’ Out on Broadway that day. I was watching the giant TVs while eating a hamburger, and seeing that moment. I was a junior in college, and heavy into my Communications coursework at the time, and told my parents “we will be talking about this on Tuesday in class.” The subject of the “wardrobe malfunction” was a teaching point in our courses at the time.

And I can guarantee this was a teaching point in controversy just ten years earlier.

Image: Wikipedia (Virgin Records, Fair use)

Just look it up, I’m not sharing it!

The month of love is just beginning. Janet (Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty) totally kicked it off.

I’m gonna take you places you’ve never been before, and you’ll be so happy that you came.

That’s the way love – and Music Monday – goes.

Have a great Monday, and enjoy the music!

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