Sure, I recently had some things to say about a handful of my favorite Janet Jackson songs — but when it comes to Miss Janet Privacy Control, there’s always more to be said. I especially want to spotlight some of her lesser-known records and remixes.
“You Want This (Single Remix)” (feat. MC Lyte) (1994)
For the sixth and final (U.S.) single from ’93’s janet., MC Lyte was brought in to add a bridge to the upbeat, Supremes-sampling “You Want This,” to give it a bit more oomph. It worked, not that the song necessarily needed it — “You Want This” is already fairly a jam.
“When I Think of You (Extended Morales House Mix ’95)” (1995)
In 1995, A&M released the Jackson contract-fulfillment comp Design of a Decade, even though she’d already released an album, janet., on her new label, Virgin. (Record deals are funny things.) It included a pair of mediocre new songs, one of which, “Runaway,” dutifully climbed to #3 on the Hot 100. But that’s not the thing. The thing is that the “Runaway” 12″, sent to me by a promo pal at A&M at the time (I was Music Director of my college radio station, and it’s not like they were promoting Jackson to college radio, but my pal knew what a Janet fan I was), included new mixes of Jackson’s first pop #1, 1986’s “When I Think of You.” And one of them, by David Morales, grabbed me immediately; I listened to it constantly all summer long. I still listen to it today, because it still sounds fresh, coming straight from Morales’s deep house pocket yet still retaining the magic that made “Think of You” great from the get-go.
“Control (The Video Mix)” (1987)
Included on Control: the Remixes, which received an expanded edition this year, I’ve always found this version — just like its name says, the version from the “live” video — superior to that on Control. It’s a different vocal take, the beefed-up instrumentation sounds much tougher and live-er, and there’s some smart little bells, whistles, and Easter eggs in the mix, like a callback to “What Have You Done for Me Lately.” I also love her “too nasty!” callout at 4:05. Not to mention that the video itself features Jimmy, Terry, and crew going all Time on your ass.
“No Sleeep” (2015)
I’ve not been much of a fan of most of Janet’s past 15 years, but “No Sleeep,” the first single from her most recent studio album, Unbreakable, is an exception. A callback to the boudoir R&B of The Velvet Rope, this sexy slow jam — written and produced, I kid you not, by Janet with her old compatriots Jimmy “Jam” Harris and Terry Lewis — spent 15 weeks atop the Adult R&B chart, quite appropriate.
“New Agenda” (featuring Chuck D) (1993)
Another great example of what Janet, Jam & Lewis are capable of in the studio: this incredible sonic mélange not only owes a thing or two to the Bomb Squad’s work with Public Enemy, it even features a bridge and ad-libs from Chuck D. His appearance here is so smart, as this song is lyrically kinda the R&B version of Sonic Youth’s “Kool Thing,” on which he’s also featured. The song opens with a sample from Stevie Wonder’s “Superwoman,” and also features drums from Average White Band’s “School Boy Crush.” And it just sounds great, know what I mean?