Year Released: 1986

Notable Songs: “What Have You Done for Me Lately”, “Nasty”, When I Think of You”, “Control”, “Let’s Wait Awhile”, “The Pleasure Principle”

Album MVP: “Nasty”

Why I Loved It: When it comes to vocals and funky beats to get down to, Control was nearly perfect. This was one of two Janet Jackson albums that helped set the stage musically for the second half of the 80’s—Rhythm Nation, released in 1989 was the other (ranked No. 57 on this countdown previously).

It’s easy to give Madonna and Whitney Houston all the credit when it comes to transformative pop by a female in the 80’s but Jackson was every bit as  great critically and nearly as popular commercially as anyone. 

If Control wasn’t the first contemporary female R&B/dance pop album it sure as shit feels like it reminiscing. Maybe I’m wrong and if so please forgive me but I kinda feel like Janet along with Bobby Brown are the true OG’s of the new-jack swing. Right off the bat with the first self-titled track Jackson goes into a spoken introduction that leaves no doubt she’s done listening to her father or anyone’s advice and she’s going in her own musical direction moving forward. I loved that shit. Besides being a complete kick-ass dance number, “Nasty” demurs those who treat women contemptuously. It’s my personal favorite track on the album.  A close second is “Let’s Wait Awhile”, a delicate ballad about a girl who likes her man but thinks it’s too soon for them to go all the way.  I can go on about this album forever—it’s truly among the very best of the era.

Commercial Success:  Jackson’s third studio album, Control became her smashing breakthrough success as Janet went from being known as Michael’s little sister to one of the most dominant performers in the music industry. Control rose to number-one on the Billboard Top 200, wrestling the spot away from Whitney Houston’s self-titled album.  Control would go on to finish in the top 10 on year-end Billboard charts for both 1986 (sixth) and 1987 (fifth). In regards to singles Control produced six top 20 Billboard hits, including a staggering five in the top five.  “When I Think of You” was the lone number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on top for two weeks.  “Let’s Wait Awhile” narrowly missed, settling for number-two while “Nasty” reached number-three. “What Have You Done For Me Lately” peaked at number-four while “Control” reached five.  Pleasure Principle rounded out the hits, merely hitting No. 14 on the charts.  In all Jackson’s Control sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. It was Grammy nominated for Album of the Year, losing out to Paul Simon’s Graceland.

Fun Facts: Via, here’s some fun facts about this historic album:  “Prior to the release of the album, Jackson wasn’t feeling her family’s rules, so she fired her father as manager and hired A&M exec John McClain. It was McClain who suggested Janet fly to Minneapolis and try collaborating with a couple of former Prince associates: Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. “Jimmy Jam” and Terry Lewis had a particular goal in mind when thinking about producing Control. “We wanted to do an album that would be in every black home in America … we were going for the black album of all time,” Jam said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Hits like “Nasty” and “Lately” were born out of the star’s uncomfortable encounter with a group of street harassers outside the hotel where she stayed in Minneapolis. “They were emotionally abusive. Sexually threatening,” Janet told Rolling Stone in 1993. “Instead of running to Jimmy or Terry for protection, I took a stand. I backed them down. That’s how songs like ‘Nasty’ and ‘What Have You Done for Me Lately’ were born, out of a sense of self-defense.”


 100.  Van Halen – OU812 

99. Stevie Wonder – In Squared Circle

98. Taylor Dayne – Can’t Fight Fate

97. Kool & The Gang – Emergency 

96. Stevie B – In My Eyes 

95. Keith Sweat – Make It Last Forever 

94. Michael Bolton – Soul Provider 

93. Go Go’s – Beauty & The Beast 

92. LL Cool J – Bigger And Deffer (Bad) 

91. Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry 

90. Def Leppard – Hysteria

89. New Edition – Heartbreak

88. Don Henley – Building A Perfect Beast

87. Beverly Hills Cop – Movie Soundtrack

86. Culture Club – Kissing To Be Clever 

85. Rolling Stones – Tattoo You

84. Asia – Asia 

83. Tiffany – Tiffany 

82. Lionel Richie – Dancing on the Ceiling

81. Barbara Streisand – Guilty 

80. Phil Collins – …But Seriously 

79. Air Supply – The One That You Love

78. J. Geils Band – Freeze Frame

77. Duran Duran – Rio 

76. Billy Ocean – Suddenly 

75. Run DMC – Raising Hell

74. Pat Benatar – Crimes of Passion

73. John Cougar – American Fool

72. Huey Lewis and The News – Picture This

71. Top Gun – Movie Soundtrack

70. Steve Winwood – Back In The High Life

69. Air Supply – Lost In Love

68. LL Cool J – Radio

67. Journey – Frontiers 

66. Styxx – Paradise Theater

65. Madonna – Like A Prayer

64. Eric B & Rakim – Paid In Full 

63. Tears for Fears – Songs From The Big Chair

62. Tina Turner – Private Dancer 

61. Steve Nicks – Bella Donna

60. U2 – The Joshua Tree

59. Bon Jovi – New Jersey 

58. Huey Lewis and the News – Fore!

57. Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation 1814

56. Prince – 1999

55. ZZ Top – Eliminator 

54. Survivor – Vital Signs

53. New Edition – New Edition 

52. Dirty Dancing – Movie Soundtrack

51. Foreigner – 4

50. Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

49. Lionel Richie – Lionel Richie 

48. Men at Work – Business As Usual

47. Run DMC – Run DMC

46. Richard Marx – Richard Marx

45. Paula Abdul – Forever Your Girl 

44. Rocky IV – Movie Soundtrack 

43. Tom Petty – Full Moon River 

42. Whitney Houston – Whitney 

41, REO Speedwagon – Hi Infidelity 

40. Christopher Cross – Christopher Cross

39. Culture Club – Colour By Numbers 

38. Chicago – Chicago 17

37. Bryan Adams – Reckless

36. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet

35. Heart – Heart 

34. Def Leppard – Pyromania 

33. Toto -Toto IV

32. The Police – Ghost In the Machine 

31. Madonna – Madonna

30. New Kids On The Block – Hangin’ Tough

29. Hall and Oates – H20

28. Don Henley – The End Of The Innocence

27. The Police – Synchronicity 

26. Phil Collins – No Jacket Required

25. Beastie Boys – Licensed To Ill

24. Hall & Oates – Private Eyes

23. Neil Diamond – The Jazz Singer

22. Madonna – Like A Virgin

21. Debbie Gibson – Out Of The Blue

20. Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel 

19. Journey – Escape 

18. Billy Joel – An Innocent Man 

17. Van Halen – 1984