On this day in music history: May 15, 1993 - “That’s The Way Love Goes” by Janet Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 8 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 4 weeks on May 8, 1993, and topping the Club Play chart for 1 week on June 26, 1993. Written by Janet Jackson, James Harris III, and Terry Lewis, it is the sixth pop and ninth R&B chart topper for the youngest member of the Jackson musical family. After almost ten years recording for A&M Records, which produce four albums including the multi-platinum selling “Control” and “Rhythm Nation 1814”, Janet Jackson’s contract with the label expires in 1991. During that time she is approached by Virgin Records founder Richard Branson offers her a deal she is unable to refuse. Jackson signs a deal with the label estimated to be worth between $32 - 50 million. At the time it makes her the highest paid artist in the history of the music industry (until her brother Michael signs a new deal with Sony for $65 million one week later). With the deal signed, Janet returns to work with her longtime collaborators, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. One of the first things the duo give the singer is a demo tape for the track that becomes “That’s The Way Love Goes”. Based around a sample of James Brown’s classic “Papa Don’t Take No Mess”, at first Janet isn’t particularly enthused by it. But by the time she returns to Minneapolis after Christmas in January of 1993, she has a dramatic change of opinion of it. She also comes up with idea of writing the lyrics with a more sultry tone, rather than the original theme of love gone wrong. Once they submit the album, Virgin is initially hesitant to release the laid back, down tempo track as the first single, preferring the song “If”. However, Jackson is adamant that “That’s The Way” be released first, and they comply with her wishes. Issued on April 12, 1993, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #14 on May 1, 1993, it rockets to the top of the chart two weeks later, becoming her most successful single ever. The single also wins a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1994. “That’s The Way Love Goes” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 4, 1986 - “Control”, the third album by Janet Jackson is released. Produced by Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson and Monte Moir, it is recorded at Flyte Tyme Studios in Minneapolis, MN from August - October 1985. Having recorded two modestly successful albums for A&M Records, at only nineteen years old, Janet Jackson finds herself at a career and life crossroad. Having already gone through a short lived marriage with singer James DeBarge, bored with the grind of working on the TV series “Fame”, and anxious to firmly establish an identity of her own apart from her famous family, Jackson realizes that dramatic life changes are necessary to make that happen. She fires her father Joe as her manager, and moves out of the Jackson home in Encino, CA. Musically, Janet is also looking to make a change. A&M Records executive and longtime Jackson family friend John McClain introduces her to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Having established themselves as hit songwriters and producers with artists including The S.O.S. Band, Change, and Thelma Houston, after being fired from The Time in 1983. The producers and Jackson hit it off immediately, and agree to work together. While talking with the singer, Jam & Lewis discuss her goals for the project. These conversations form the basis of several songs on the album. Seeing her drive for independence from her family, Jimmy and Terry insists that Janet come to Minneapolis to work, away from the heavily sheltered environment she has grown up in. Accompanied by her childhood best friend Melanie Andrews, Janet travels to Minnesota to write and record the album with Jam & Lewis over a period of six weeks. The results change all previous opinions about Janet Jackson as a musical artist, and the futures of all involved. Edgy, funky and much more mature than anything she’s done previously, “Control” is met with near universal acclaim from fans and from the music industry. Accompanied by visually striking music videos (mostly choreographed by former L.A. Lakers cheerleader Paula Abdul), that showcase Janet’s natural dancing ability, it spins off six hit singles including “What Have You Done For Me Lately” (#1 R&B, #4 Pop), “Nasty” (#1 Pop, #3 Pop), and the title track (#1 R&B, #5 Pop). Of those six singles, five hit number one on the R&B singles chart, and five of the six reach the top five on the pop singles chart, all in different peak position. The album is showered with accolades including four American Music Awards (out of twelve nominations), and five Grammy nominations, including Album Of The Year. “Control” spends eight weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, spending two weeks at number one of the Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.