100 Best Albums “This is a story about control/My control/Control of what I say, control of what I do/And this time I’m gonna do it my way.” The spoken-word intro to Control announces Janet Jackson’s arrival as a pop powerhouse with a declaration of independence by the then-19-year-old baby of the Jackson family. By the time of Control’s release in 1986, the budding superstar had released two albums—1982’s Janet Jackson and 1984’s Dream Street—and scored R&B hits like “Young Love” and “Don’t Stand Another Chance”. But the jury was still out on whether she was just capitalising on her appearances on such TV sitcoms as Good Times and Diff’rent Strokes—or, perhaps even more so, her nepo-sibling connection to the ascending King of Pop, Michael Jackson. But all that changed when Jackson—after bossing up and firing her own father, Joe Jackson, as her manager—went to Minneapolis to work with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on what would be her true debut. The pairing of streetwise Prince protégés with sheltered music royalty was an odd coupling that worked against the odds, putting a nasty spin on Minneapolis funk that was all Miss Jackson; the result was one of the most successful and enduring artist-producer collaborations in pop history. At the time of Control’s release, pop’s heart was thumping to the likes of Madonna and Whitney Houston, and maintained by radio and MTV—but Jackson gave it a whole new beat. Indeed, when Jackson commanded “Gimme a beat!” at the beginning of “Nasty”—one of her countless hits—she was leading a new music movement for Black female empowerment, from Beyoncé and Rihanna to SZA and Doja Cat today. There is a militant assault in the fierce funk of her first single, “What Have You Done for Me Lately” (a tune that kicks off with what would become one of her trademark interludes). And the in-your-face title track foreshadows 1989’s Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. But there is also a girlish giddiness to “When I Think of You”, Jackson’s first chart-topper, and a slow-jam sexiness to the album’s finale “Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun)”—both elements that would become defining pleasure principles for Jackson in the years ahead.

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