116. Janet Jackson – ‘The Pleasure Principle’ (1986)

“I’m not here to feed your insecurities
I wanted you to love me”

Taken from the album Control

Also released on Design Of A Decade 1986/1996 and The Best

US #14, UK #24, AUS #50

As the best song on Control and the third best Janet Jackson song of all time, ‘The Pleasure Principle’ is pretty amazing indeed. I remember I never used to think much of it, vastly preferring more immediate hits like ‘Nasty’ and ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately?’, until one day that “you might think I’m crazy but I’m serious” line really struck me as quite awesome, and from that day forward it was ‘The Pleasure Principle’ for me.

One of the few artists to seemingly grow up completely over the course of an album campaign – compare the fresh-faced young’un from ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately?’ with the mature, strong dancer in ‘The Pleasure Principle’ – Janet set the wheels in motion here for her classic album Rhythm Nation 1814 and moved her image forward into the realm of sophisticated funk-R&B fusion. She also uses her limited vocals to create something of a vulnerable, desperate power. She is undoubtedly the king of the story in ‘The Pleasure Principle’ but her voice has a sadness to it, especially as she cries out “Love me!” over the final beats.

The Shep Pettibone mix gives the song a whole new kick, and it was used for the video to soundtrack Janet’s amazing choreographed performance. It was such a leap forward for her, and although it didn’t chart as high as it’s predecessors (it was the final single from the album), ‘The Pleasure Principle’ is remembered nowadays as one of Janet’s strongest singles. Despite having so many top ten singles in her career, in a way ‘The Pleasure Principle’ is more important than all of them. It signified growth as a vocalist and performer, the best representation of her early style, the very best element of what made Janet Jackson such a special and influential artist.

Music video:

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