Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty, Jackson turns 54 on 16th May and to celebrate I’ve picked my Top 10 songs that should’ve been singles. I was actually going to do a Top 10 singles but just found that so damn (baby) hard, seriously, you try and do it.
Janet first bothered the UK charts when she snuck in at 83 on her duet with none other than Cliff Richard in 1984 but it was What Have You Done For Me Lately two years later that introduced us to Janet the superstar. She’s gone on to rack up 38 Top 40 UK singles and released 12 studio albums with a new album, Black Diamond, promised for later this year.
I’ve been listening back to those studio albums and have picked 10 album tracks that I think should’ve received the single treatment as below. It’s worth pointing out that I’ve excluded the brilliant Throb, Great Forever and R&B Junkie as all had a limited single release in one country or another. Plus Janet was quite prolific in her earlier albums for releasing nearly every track as a single so whilst I think You Can Be Mine would have been an equally good single choice as say Pleasure Principle, I’ve tended to focus on Velvet Rope onwards for this list.
Ladies and gentlemen I give you ‘Missed Janet’, the Top 10 should’ve been singles:
10. Well Travelled
Taken from Janet’s 2015, Unbreakable album, this song has a momentum that fits the lyrical content of being on a journey. It’s a mellow, almost country like track that gives you pause for reflection.
This track feels like a sister track to Runaway, having a slightly oriental undercurrent in the percussion. It builds from a fairly minimal backing track right through the first chorus before adding more beats for the second verse. Sitting somewhere between a ballad and a mid-tempo banger, this multi-layered track was definitely ripe for a single release.
8. Do It 2 Me
Janet’s 2006 20 Y.O. is full of possible single choices and I think that unfortunately Call On Me wouldn’t have been one of them for me. I think it killed the album before it had really begun, whereas a track like Do It 2 Me could have set the scene for the album of contemporary R&B pop bops that she delivered.
7. Better Days
All For You’s closing track is a very open letter about Janet worrying over never feeling satisfied or happy and how she has changed her vibe and decided there are better days ahead. It’s a motto I try to apply to my own life when I’m feeling a bit fed up. Thanks Jan!
A standout from Janet’s 2004 Damita Jo album, Sexhibition gives all Janet’s sass in it’s cheeky play-on-words; she wants to sexplore you, for example. It’s a track that’ll get your hips grinding and if the sexy puns are too much there’s also a plainer version called Exhibition on Youtube.
From Janet’s last album, Unbreakable, Night is a upbeat disco tinged banger with some house piano to boot. Unbreakable is quite a dark album in places but Night stands out as one of the more uplifting tracks. I was going to include 2Nite from Discipline in this Top 10 too but felt that this song and that are quite similar and this one just had the edge for me.
4. Trust A Try
Janet takes it to the rock opera with this cut from her All For You album. Opening with quick high pitched vocals and violins before the rock guitars come cutting through, Trust is up there with If and Black Cat and was co-written and produced by Janet with Rockwilder alongside Jam & Lewis.
3. What About
A raw, rock-influenced track from Velvet Rope, What About lays bare Janet’s feelings about an abusive relationship. It’s very honest lyrically about both mental and physical abuse and a lying, unfaithful partner whilst the delicate backing track in the verses contrasts with the explosive chorus complete with huge guitar riffs. Perhaps too edgy for a single, it’s still a huge favourite of mine.
2. So Much Betta
Discipline is probably my least favourite Janet album but this track screamed out for single treatment with it’s computerised hook ‘so much betta, i’m for you’ and of the moment beats. A funky R&B pop track, it was written by Jermaine Dupri (Monica/Mariah Carey), Manuel Seal (TLC/Usher) and Crystal Nicole.
For me, the biggest missed opportunity for a single is Enjoy from 20 Y.O. As I’ve mentioned above, I think this album is seriously underrated in her catalogue and is full of tracks that had single potential. None more so than this laid-back summer jam, perfect to put a smile on your face. Enjoy has that trade mark sunshine and escapism vibe that Janet owns on songs like Escapade, All For You and Whoops Now.
What would be your Top 10 missed single opportunities? Tell us @entfocusmusic.
Happy Birthday Janet!