Janet Jackson may have just become a new mother this year, but she also is one of the longest reigning queens of the music video. So in celebration of her 51st birthday, check out six of our favorites!
Despite the baby fat still clinging to her cheeks, a young Miss Janet was claiming her own life and making her own decisions, thank you very much. With her dream team producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis at the helm, Janet went interactive with her “Control” creating a concert-like atmosphere for her music video. Judging by her dance moves and her screaming fans, Miss Jackson was very much in control — and she loved it.
When I Think of You (1986)
Like her brother Michael, Janet was all about producing colorful, big-scale productions to impress her fans on MTV. “When I Think of You” had all of that and then some, with its big city dancers filled with party people, hooligans, annoying neighbors, and even limber cops. And at the center was a glowing Janet, dancing her way through a labyrinth of city thrills as she searched for her sweet gentlemanly hottie. Ah, young love!
The Pleasure Principle (1987)
Unlike most of her other music videos, which are usually filled with a posse of dancers, Jackson’s “The Pleasure Principle” stands out for its stark, one-woman dancing machine bad assery. Donning straight black hair and knee pads, Janet goes at it alone with a dramatic intensity that a young Beyoncé probably took notes on.
Rhythm Nation (1989)
“Rhythm Nation” was the music anthem of the decade, and Janet had the video to prove it. With her militaristic choreography and nation of dancers in perfect step to reverberating positive beats, Janet’s “Rhythm Nation” took black-and-white to a new level of modernity.
Love Will Never Do (1990)
Unlike her previous music videos where she traditionally covered herself in baggy black clothes, Janet’s “Love Will Never Do” marked an important moment in her womanhood: the era where the blushing artist got in touch with her sexuality in a new way, and this music video was reflective of her newfound confidence — and svelte figure.
“Scream” was one of Janet’s most epic productions, especially considering she was joined by her larger-than-life bro Michael (and proving that yes, they were actually two separate people!) A retaliatory song about the tabloid media and the anger MJ felt over the accusations of child sex abuse, “Scream” was a high tech black-and-white phenom, costing $7 million to make (Guinness cites it as the most expensive music video in history). Expensive or not, seeing two of the most famous siblings looking mad as hell and futuristically dope at the same time was enough to make it an addictive hit.