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Janet Jackson - Control (1986)

  • Video Views 10,599,264
  • 80's Score 80's score: 1.42
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"Control" is a song by American singer Janet Jackson from her third studio album of the same name (1986). It was written by ...

"Control" is a song by American singer Janet Jackson from her third studio album of the same name (1986). It was written by Jackson, James Harris III, and Terry Lewis and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The song was released on October 17, 1986, by A&M Records as the album's fourth single. Its arrangement, built upon complex rhythmic tracks, showcased state-of-the-art production. The song is about Jackson wanting to finally take control of her life.

In 1988, the song won a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video, beating out her brother Michael, Whitney Houston, and Jody Watley. Pitchfork included the song in its Best 200 Songs of the '80s list at number 126.

Jackson has performed the song on many of her tours, including the Rhythm Nation World Tour 1990, The Velvet Rope Tour, All for You Tour, Rock Witchu Tour, Number Ones: Up Close and Personal, Unbreakable World Tour, and the State of the World Tour. The only tour that it was not included on was the Janet World Tour. It has been included in two of Jackson's greatest hits albums, Design of a Decade: 1986–1996 (1995) and Number Ones (2009).

Music video

The music video for "Control" was directed by Mary Lambert, who had previously directed the video for "Nasty". The video shows Jackson playing a young singer preparing for her first gig, only to end up arguing with her parents because she wants to move out of the family home and live on her own. Her father is deadset against her plan. When he tells her they will not discuss the subject any further, she angrily storms out of the house, saying she will drive herself to the concert instead of taking the limo that has been provided for her. Just as she is about to leave for the concert, she is greeted in the driveway by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jellybean Johnson, and Jerome Benton. They take her to a concert hall to perform her single "Control" where she shows that she wants to be "the one in control". The video version of the song is different from the album version. The nine-minute video was made available on the iTunes Store on April 27, 2007. Ja'net Dubois, who co-starred on Good Times with Jackson in the 1970s, plays her mother in the video. Paula Abdul choreographed the video.

The live footage was recorded at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Both Lambert and producer Sharon Oreck recall it as a difficult and trying experience; Oreck said in 2011 that it was her "worst nightmare" of the many videos she had produced. The crowd, which had been told that they would see Janet Jackson perform, had expected a free concert. "Instead we gave them 50 takes of Janet lip-synching 'Control'", said Oreck.

At the time, Janet was in the midst of firing her father, Joe Jackson, from his position as her manager. Oreck said he was bitter and taking it out on everybody else. He told Oreck that he would not let Janet sit on the trapeze she is seen being lowered onto the stage in unless there was $1 million of liability insurance coverage on her. She told the record company, which responded, "Don't tell him anything, but don't tell him no, because we don't say no to Joe Jackson." This evasiveness did not work, and he became even angrier and threatened her with violence. Finally, Lambert told A&M she and Oreck would quit the video unless they told Joe Jackson his daughter was insured.

The situation got worse later in the shoot. A&M told Lambert they wanted more white people visible in the audience. There were a few scattered throughout, and under the guise of simple repositioning she began having them sit further forward. Eventually the crowd as a whole figured out what was really happening, and grew angry. Lambert told the record company representative that she absolutely could not go on due to the potential for violence, and he went out and explained things to the crowd, which calmed down enough to complete the video.

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