We’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking album Janet Jackon’s Rhythm Nation 1814 and bowing down before the pop goddess that is Janet Jackson. Almost from the start Janet was a trailblazer, fusing pop, R&B and hip-hop, raising the bar for music video choreography, speaking out about social injustice and breaking racial and sexual taboos. The trends she started in fashion and music can still be seen in the work of today’s female stars, such as Ciara, Britney Spears and Beyonce among many others.
We’re not the only ones who think Janet changed the course of females in pop music. In the video below, see how others reflect on how the star influenced their lives. Her infectious dance moves and confidence oozed sexiness. Her messages were empowering. And if you thought your other favorite pop divas were completely original, your mind is about to be blown. Here are all of the things Janet did first, that everyone else couldn’t resist doing too.
1. Janet Set The Record For Top 5 Singles from A Single Album
All seven of RN’s commercial singles – “Miss You Much,” “Rhythm Nation,” “Escapade,” “Alright,” “Come Back to Me,” “Black Cat,” and “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” – hit the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, even breaking the record previously set by brother Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Her record still hasn’t been broken.
2. Janet Was The First Woman To Create A Long-Form Music Video
Long before Yonce left us in shock and awe over her surprise self-titled visual album, Janet was blowing our minds with the groundbreaking long form “Rhythm Nation” video. Her iconic unisex militant attire, complex choreography and black and white coloring of the video was meant to erase the barriers between people of different races. Janet has said, “There were so many races in that video, from black to white and all the shades of gray in between.” Her song and video tried to start a movement, while other pop singers, like Madonna, were creating videos like this.
3. Janet Rocked High Waisted Pants And Chiseled Abs Before Everyone Else
Janet coined this signature look of the 1990s and later used by just about every pop star and model of the era and you know it.
4. Janet Took Music Video Choreography To The Next Level
Before Britney Spears and Beyonce, Janet truly raised to bar on dancing in her music videos. While Madonna was still frolicking and rolling around in a wedding dresses, Janet was getting down with her bad self. Next time you see a pop singer working it with intricate group choreography while singing, know that Miss J did that shizz first.
5. Janet Was The First Female Artist To Have Multiple No. 1 Hits From A Single Album In Three Separate Years
“Miss You Much” (’89), “Escapade” and “Black Cat” (’90), and “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” (’91) were all from Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 and rose to the top of the charts in three consecutive calendar years.
6. Janet Was The First African-American Pop Singer To Promote Feminism Through Music
“Listen up. I’m not a prude, I just want some respect.” Until the ’80s, feminism in music was hard to find and when you did it was it mostly the provence of marginal white artists operating on rock’s fringe. It was “crossover” music star Jackson who really explored the subject and brought the perspectives of African-American women into the conversation. As noted rock critic Anthony DeCurtis said , the combination of Janet’s lyrics and presence allowed for “[a] product that has as one of its aims the betterment of black people and the creation of role models for black women.” Janet was teaching women everywhere not to take any s–t from men, long before Beyonce preached feminism with “***Flawless.”
In Rhythm Nation’s introduction, Janet states: “We are a nation with no geographic boundaries… pushing toward a world rid of color lines.” Just years prior to the album’s release, radio was strictly segragated between white rock and pop bands and black R&B singers and rappers. Then Janet came on the scene and helped build the bridge between these isolated genres, fusing hip-hop hooks with R&B soul and a sleek pop sheen, starting a new revolution through music and dance.
8. Janet Was The First Female African-American Artist To Explore Her Sexuality In Public
With hits like “Anytime, Any Place” and “If,” it was clear that Janet was striking against the taboo of women talking about their sexuality. Although Madonna beat her to the punch by making jaws drop with her 1984 hit “Like a Virgin,” Janet was the first black singer in the pop genre to do the same. Tina Turner and Whitney Houston were not telling men to call out their name or ask who it belonged to and they certainly wouldn’t go to the extremes of The Velvet Rope album where Jackson explored themes of BDSM.
9. Janet Jackson Was The First Female To Win A Grammy For Best Long Form Music Video
Janet Jackson took home the Best Music Video, Long Form gold for “Rhythm Nation” in 1990, the first female artist in music history to do so.
[Photo Credit: Getty, A&M]