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Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation (1989)

  • Video Views 25,290,484
  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 1.73
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"Rhythm Nation" is a song by American singer Janet Jackson, released as the second single from her fourth studio album, Janet ...

"Rhythm Nation" is a song by American singer Janet Jackson, released as the second single from her fourth studio album, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). It was written and produced by Jackson, in collaboration with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Jackson developed the song's concept in response to various tragedies in the media, deciding to pursue a socially conscious theme by using a political standpoint within upbeat dance music. In the United States, it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Dance Club Songs charts. It also peaked within the top 40 of several singles charts worldwide. "Rhythm Nation" received several accolades, including BMI Pop Awards for "Most Played Song", the Billboard Award for "Top Dance/Club Play Single" and a Grammy nomination for Jackson as "Producer of the Year". It has been included in two of Jackson's greatest hits collections, Design of a Decade: 1986–1996 (1995) and Number Ones (2009).

The accompanying music video for "Rhythm Nation" was directed by Dominic Sena and choreographed by Jackson and a then-unknown Anthony Thomas. It served as the final segment in Jackson's long-form Rhythm Nation 1814 film. It portrays rapid choreography within a "post-apocalyptic" warehouse setting, with Jackson and her dancers adorned in unisex military attire. It was filmed in black-and-white to portray the song's theme of racial harmony. Jackson's record label attempted to persuade her against filming the video, but upon her insistence it became "the most far-reaching single project the company has ever attempted." The video received two MTV Video Music Awards for "Best Choreography" and "Best Dance Video." Jackson also won the Billboard Award for "Best Female Video Artist" in addition to the "Director's Award" and "Music Video Award for Artistic Achievement." The Rhythm Nation 1814 film won the Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video. The video's outfit was inducted into the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where its hand-written lyrics are also used in the museum's class on female songwriters.

Artists such as Sleigh Bells, Jamie Lidell, and Kylie Minogue have cited the song as an influence, while artists including Lady Gaga, Peter Andre, OK Go, Mickey Avalon, Usher, Keri Hilson, and Britney Spears have referenced its music video. Beyoncé, Cheryl Cole, Rihanna and Ciara have also paid homage to its outfit and choreography within live performances. It has inspired the careers of choreographers such as Darrin Henson and Travis Payne. Actors including Kate Hudson, Michael K. Williams, and Elizabeth Mathis have studied its music video, with its choreography also used in the film Tron: Legacy. It has been covered by Pink, Crystal Kay, and Girls' Generation and has also been performed on Glee, The X Factor USA, and Britain's Got Talent.

Music video

The music video for "Rhythm Nation" was directed by Dominic Sena. It was the final inclusion in Jackson's long-form Rhythm Nation 1814 film, following "Miss You Much" and "The Knowledge." Its premise focuses on rapid choreography within a "post-apocalyptic" warehouse setting, with Jackson and her dancers outfitted in unisex black military-style uniforms. It was filmed in black-and-white to portray the song's theme of racial harmony. Jackson stated, "There were so many races in that video, from Black to White and all the shades of gray in between. Black-and-white photography shows all those shades, and that's why we used it." Its wardrobe also reflects the song's theme of gender equality, using matching unisex outfits. Jackson commented, "The foggy, smoky street and the dark, black-and-white tone, that was all intentional. When you've done a lot of videos, it can be difficult to keep it fresh and new. You have to try something you've never done, in fear of looking like something you've already created."

While developing its concept, Jackson's record label attempted to persuade her against filming the video, feeling as if it didn't have mainstream appeal. Upon her insistence, it became "the most far-reaching single project the company has ever attempted." The video received multiple accolades, including MTV Video Music Awards for "Best Choreography" and "Best Dance Video." Jackson was also the recipient of the "Director's Award", "Best Female Video Artist", and the "Music Video Award for Artistic Achievement" at the Billboard Awards. The video's long-form version won a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video. It was later listed among the "Greatest Music Videos of All Time" by Slant Magazine. Entertainment Weekly considered it "legendary" while Rolling Stone declared it "the gold standard for dystopian dance-pop music videos", thought to include "the most memorable choreography in pop video history." MTV News commended it as "the clip that sent Jackson into the stratosphere as an envelope-pushing pop star." The video's outfit is included in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's "Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power" exhibit and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and was previously displayed on a statue at Walt Disney World theme park.

 

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