Janet Jackson was destined for greatness. She was a piece of the Jackson family pie and a pioneer for female Popstars that came after her. She was singing at the age of seven under the wing of her father. Joe Jackson, a renowned talent manager, instructed his children to refer to him solely as Joe growing up as a means to keep things professional around the house.
After a few acting gigs, at the age of 16, her manager (and father) Joe Jackson facilitated a contract for her with Universal Music subsidiary A&M Records. She released her self-titled debut album in 1982, and though the album received minimal promotion, it peaked at No. 63 on the Billboard 200, and reached No. 6 on their R&B albums chart. One year later, it appeared on the Billboard Top Black Albums of 1983, and Jackson herself achieved the accolade of being the highest-ranking female vocalist on Billboard’s Year-End Black Album Artists chart.
Jackson would release two more albums in the 1980s – Dream Street in 1984 and Control in 1986. While the success for Dream Street was subpar, Control, the first album produced after separating from her father’s management was her first album to hit No. 1 and was certified fivefold platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), selling over ten million copies worldwide.
Janet Jackson’s fourth album, Rhythm Nation 1814 is arguably her finest album in terms of hits and familiarity. It was a certified sixfold platinum by the RIAA and sold over twelve million copies worldwide. Escapade was a huge reason for the album’s success. A year earlier, Jackson heard the word ‘escapade’ used in conversation and thought it would be a great name for a track, seeing as it was so unusual.
The song sat at the top of the charts this week in 1990, where it would stay for three weeks, becoming the 3rd of 7 top-five singles from the album.
In addition to sitting atop the Hot 100, the song also reached #1 on the Hot R&B and Dance Club Songs charts.
Partially inspired by Martha and the Vandella’s Nowhere to Run, Jackson would go on to say of the track, “We usually come up with the music first, then we try to think of a title that fits the way the music sounds, and ‘Escapade’ we thought was a cool word. It is kind of old-fashioned — people don’t say ‘Let’s go on an escapade’ anymore, but it worked with that track.”
Coinciding with the milestone of reaching No. 1, Jackson would embark on her very first world tour – Rhythm Nation World Tour in 1990.
Janet Jackson’s influence from this era still lingers today.
Her concerts would spark a new trend in live shows due to the excessive use of pyrotechnics, staging, and choreography, which would become the template for women on stage today, including Shakira, Beyonce, and Jennifer Lopez to name a few. Journalist Denene Millner pointed out that “Before Jackson, little was expected of teenage girl singers except that they coo about love and heartbreak and look pretty in their dresses.”
Britney Spears would cite Escapade and entire Rhythm Nation 1814 album as an influence for her album Britney Jean. “I wanted to kind of recreate some of Janet’s greatest moments that she’s had, “Escapade” and that whole era. That’s what I wanted to do, just have a lot of uptempo’s that were just high energy and a lot of fun,” she recalls. Jennifer Lopez has also credited Janet Jackson as inspiration for her own dance and videos, stating that she started dancing because of Jackson’s music video for The Pleasure Principle.
While she hasn’t released an album since 2015’s Unbreakable, it’s only a matter of time before we hear from her again, and we can’t wait!