Review Summary: Licking her wounds and sharpening her tongue, Janet Jackson released 'Control' to critical acclaim and worldwide success; something she never dreamed she could achieve.3 of 3 thought this review was well written
Licking her wounds from her previous efforts, sharp-tongued Janet was ready to strike off the Jackson name, and pave her own way. Little did she know, she was also setting, in stone, a pathway that countless others would later follow. Containing autobiographical themes, 'Control' is as much about Janet's identity as it is about the music. Following an annulment from James DeBarge and severing her ties from her family and manager-father Joe Jackson; Janet, the baby of the family, had her own statement to make.
Signing an additional two-year contract with A&M, collaborating with 'The Time' rejects Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who would later become a dream team, and adopting an unconventional sound: a fusion of rhythm and blues, funk, disco, rap vocals, and synthesised percussion; 'Control' broke boundaries. It established Janet as a leader and innovator of contemporary R&B and enabled her transition into mainstream success.
Criticism followed, as some critics scoffed at Janet's claims of autonomy, arguing that Jam's crowded wall of percussion, swallowed her thin voice. One can only assume they somehow missed the explosive 'Gimme a Beat' vocal pyrotechnics unleashed in 'Nasty' (who's lyrics, such as 'No My First Name Ain't Baby, It's Janet Miss Jackson If Ya Nasty', would instantly become popular catch-phrases). Whilst others applauded 'Control' for erasing her former 'pop-ingénue image' and for being markedly nervy and mature for a teen-ager.
The album's mediocre moments arrive with tracks 'You Can Be Mine' & 'He Doesn't I'm Alive', who's flowery pop sounds are redolent of her dissatisfactory and disinteresting previous works. The rest however, proves to be an extravaganza of top-notch production and composition, with Jackson's vocals providing an authentic 'umph' or edge to the otherwise, potentially lacklustre, simplistic lyrics.
'Control' announced Janet as both a singles and video artist; whilst the album stormed the charts, five of it's singles reached the top 5, giving Janet her first #1. And with video's like 'The Pleasure Principle' and the title track itself, which contained skilful intricate solo routines that would rival even her brother... it's no wonder that others still emulate her.