Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 is the only album to have seven top-five Billboard hits. 'Nuff said. This would be the greatest short review of all-time if it ended here.
Okay, I'll expand a bit. What makes Rhythm Nation so interesting is that Janet could've very well done a sequel to Control, and it probably would've been excellent. And who could blame her? After bombing with her first two albums under the control of her father, Papa Joe Jackson, she found tremendous success under the tutelage of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. She, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis could've come back a few years later after Control and built off a similar theme; a growing young woman with an edge. Instead, showing true growth, Jackson went a little left.
Though the sounds aren't all that different, the theme is. Janet is thinking socially consciously and while not every song has a socially conscious theme, because of the strong title track as well as State Of The World, the album takes on a serious feel. But there are still fun, catchy pop songs like Escapade, Alright, and Miss You Much which make sure that we remember Miss Jackson. In fact, those songs are true progression from the sound on Control. She also foreshadowed her next sexy album with the Love Will Never Do (Without You). Well, more so, the video that followed. Holy cow, Janet. Talk about fine.
Janet wrote one song all by herself and it's the rock-ish Black Cat. While it's not my favorite song on the album, it was a big MTV hit and is one of the more memorable songs on the album. Janet slows it down on two songs. Most will remember Come Back To Me which is a pretty pedestrian ballad, because radio picked it up as the 5th single on the album and adult contemporary stations will stay play it late night every once in a while. Lonely is super corny, but at least it's not as boring.
(One of the things that has bothered me about Janet Jackson albums, starting with this one, is the amount of interludes of her giggling, shouting at her girlfriends, and pretty much talking about anything unrelated to her music. Out of the 20 tracks on the album, 8 are interludes.)
This album showcased Janet Jackson as an absolute megastar. In fact, in 1989 and 90, Janet was closing in on her big bro. She may have influenced him for what would be his Dangerous album when it came to sound, style, clothes, and dancing choreography. That may be her biggest accomplishment.