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Janet Jackson - Let's Wait Awhile (1987)

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  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 1.75
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

“Let’s Wait Awhile” is a song by American singer Janet Jackson from her third studio album, Control (1986). ...

“Let’s Wait Awhile” is a song by American singer Janet Jackson from her third studio album, Control (1986). It was released on January 6, 1987, by A&M Records as the album’s fifth single. The song was written and produced by Jackson and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, with Melanie Andrews also serving as co-writer. It is also the first song Jackson co-produced.

The song was inspired by a conversation Andrews had with her childhood boyfriend, just young teenagers at the time. The lyrics discuss sexual abstinence and postponing sexual intimacy within a relationship until the time is right.

The song received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who praised the track’s sweetness and Jackson’s tender delivery. It was also praised for its meaningful message, considered to be a teaching tool to encourage sexual abstinence amidst the AIDS crisis at the time. In the United States, “Let’s Wait Awhile” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, while topping the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Internationally, it reached number three in the United Kingdom, where she made her debut on the BBC’s Top of the Pops on March 26, 1987, and number four in Ireland, in addition to charting within the top 40 in several other countries. It has been included on two of Jackson’s greatest hits albums, Design of a Decade: 1986–1996 (1995) and Number Ones (2009).

A music video for “Let’s Wait Awhile”, directed by Dominic Sena, co-stars martial artist and actor Taimak, and tells the story of a couple in love. Jackson has performed the song live on all of her tours, beginning with the Rhythm Nation World Tour 1990 through the Unbreakable World Tour (2015–16), receiving praise for her vocal performance. The song has been covered and sampled in numerous songs throughout the years.

Critical reception

“Let’s Wait Awhile” received mostly positive reviews from music critics. Ed Hogan of AllMusic saw the song as a “sweet soft departure from the hard funky veneer of [previous singles] ‘What Have You Done for Me Lately,’ ‘Nasty,’ and ‘Control.'” Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine praised “how perfect her tremulous hesitance fits into the abstinence anthem ‘Let’s Wait Awhile’,” also noting that it “would’ve been a great place to end the album.” Norman Riley of The Crisis praised the track, calling it “pleasing and surprising”. Nelson George of Billboard picked the track as one of the album’s highlights, calling it “somber”. Danyel Smith of Vibe praised the track, writing that “on the fragile [ballad], Jackson’s tender, hesitant delivery conveys all of the trepidation and wonder felt by a young girl on the brink of losing her innocence.” Wendy Robinson of PopMatters praised the track for “showcas[ing] Janet’s ability to combine a gorgeous melody with a meaningful message.” Nick Levine wrote for Digital Spy that the “seemingly gooey ’80s ballad has a hard centre”, referring to the song’s lyrics.

Controversy

“Let’s Wait Awhile” has been described as “bearing striking similarities” to the 1975 song “Daisy Jane” by the band America. Reportedly on hearing “Let’s Wait Awhile” on a car radio in 1987 – the track then being a current single – the road manager for America pulled over at a phone booth to alert Gerry Beckley to the evident debt of Jackson’s track to Beckley’s composition. Beckley eventually reached an out-of-court settlement with Jackson and her co-writers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, thus preempting litigation for plagiarism.

Music video

The music video for “Let’s Wait Awhile” was directed by Dominic Sena and is set in New York City. Martial artist and actor Taimak Guarriello was cast to play Jackson’s love interest after receiving a call from a modeling agent, who informed him that Jackson wanted him to portray her boyfriend. The video follows Jackson and her boyfriend going out for a romantic night on the town. In the middle of the video, her boyfriend wants to end the evening by taking their relationship a step further, but Jackson wants to wait until they are both ready.

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