#MusicMonday – March 1, 2021

We won’t need a compass, music (and love, especially for music) will guide our way on this Monday!

By the mid-1990s, I was reaching my teens (I turned 13 in 1995), and was taking interest in things that teenagers loved. Once I was too old for toys (except for Legos and video games, of course), music, movies, and books were my main interest. My birthday/Christmas list would always be a collection of books and cassettes tapes (later CDs) I wanted, as well as video games, because I still wanted those. Much of my music taste then is exactly the same as it was then. Since I was dancing at the time (nice to know nothing changes, I am I right?), I liked anything I could dance to.

While looking around Sam Goody on a Saturday night at the mall, I found out that Janet Jackson had a new album coming out right before my birthday. I had been hearing her newest single, “Runaway” on the radio frequently (it came out right before I started seventh grade), and I loved the song. Since I liked a lot of her songs, it was only natural that I would for her latest album, a Greatest Hits compilation that also included this exciting new song!

And as luck would have it, I got it from my parents for my birthday!

Design of a Decade: 1986-1996 is a Greatest Hits album by the aforementioned Janet Jackson, her first such album of popular singles from the first almost-decade worth of albums. The collection was released on October 10, 1995, and contained fourteen singles from three albums, Control, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, and janet (1986, 1989, and 1993, respectively), as well as two new tracks – the also aforementioned “Runaway,” as well as “Twenty Foreplay.”

After fulfilling her contract with A&M Records, Jackson signed a contract with Virgin estimated to be between $32 and $50 million (!). Jackson released 1993’s janet. (meaning Janet, period.), her fifth studio album. The album had six hit singles (including “That’s The Way Love Goes,” the subject of Music Monday last month), and four promotional singles. In addition to this success, her contract with Virgin allowed her to leave the label at any time, so Jackson chose to return to A&M, and her first release upon her return was Design of a Decade.

The album was deemed a critical success, with an impressive listing of tracks, with the only criticism coming from the fact that most of the songs only spanned five of the nearly ten years this album is supposed to cover, from 1986 until 1991. Despite that though, this album was hugely successful for Janet (Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty), reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 200 during the week of October 28th, eventually peaking at #3, and by December 1995 (#55 Year-Ending 1995-1996), Design of a Decade was certified Double Platinum. It’s lead single/new release, “Runaway” reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 (#84 Year End 1996).

For me, this was music I’d heard in dance class and recitals – her music was everywhere, especially if you spent enough time in the dance studio. I was so excited to receive this cassette for my birthday, and when I listen to “Runaway,” I remember that excitement of being thirteen years old and playing this constantly in my boom box (and Walkman when I was in the car). I loved dancing to this song, and to the other greatest hits on the album. I used to watch the music video constantly – watching Janet Jackson go anywhere and everywhere chroma key could take her was soooo exciting!

“Escapade” was one of my first favorite Janet Jackson songs, as was “Rhythm Nation.” Admittedly, I was not as familiar with the stuff from Control, but I came to love that early sound – what an amazing start to what would become a great repertoire of songs! Honestly, the one song I was disappointed that wasn’t on the album was “State of the World.” I had heard that in a my recital in sixth grade a few months earlier, and loved it, mostly because it reminded me of “Rhythm Nation.” I also remember this was when I took notice of “Love Will Never Do Without You,” and how much that got stuck in my head!

There are worse problems, trust me. Janet Jackson music is not one of those problems.

As “Greatest Hits” albums go, this is a great way to top off a decade of hits. Having this and janet. in my collection made for some great listening, as I’ve come to rediscover with the playlist I was lucky enough to find.

Though my love of music definitely began much earlier in my life, sitting in the back seat of my parents’ cars, it was the dance studio that shaped my love of dance oriented music. In addition to dance, music is still one of my earliest loves. And at 38 years old, this album is still one of my go-to choices for good dance music.

I’m pretty sure I still have the cassette at my parents’ house, but it is nice to know that I can always find the full playlist on YouTube!

Have a great Monday, and enjoy the music!

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