Saturday, October 28, 1989

Janet Jackson hit #1 with Rhythm Nation

First posted 3/25/2008; updated 12/2/2020.

Rhythm Nation 1814

Janet Jackson

Released: September 19, 1989

Peak: 14 US, 13 RB, 4 UK, 5 CN, 14 AU

Sales (in millions): 8.4 US, 0.3 UK, 15.3 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: R&B/pop


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Interlude: Pledge
  2. Rhythm Nation (11/11/89, 2 US, 1a RB, 23 UK, sales: ½ million)
  3. Interlude: T.V.
  4. State of the World (2/16/91, 5a US, 23a RB)
  5. Interlude: Race
  6. The Knowledge
  7. Interlude: Let’s Dance
  8. Miss You Much (9/2/89, 1 US, 1 RB, 22 UK, sales: 1 million)
  9. Interlude: Come Back Interlude
  10. Love Will Never Do without You (10/27/90, 1 US, 2 RB, 33 AC, 34 UK, sales: ½ million)
  11. Livin’ in a World They Didn’t Make
  12. Alright (4/7/90, 2a US, 2 RB, 20 UK, sales: ½ million)
  13. Interlude: Hey Baby
  14. Escapade (1/20/90, 1a US, 1 RB, 16 AC, 17 UK)
  15. Interlude: No Acid
  16. Black Cat (9/15/90, 1 US, 10 RB, 15 UK, sales: ½ million)
  17. Lonely
  18. Come Back to Me (1/27/90, 1a US, 2 RB, 1 AC, 20 UK)
  19. Someday Is Tonight
  20. Interlude: Livin’…in Complete Darkness

Total Running Time: 64:34


4.024 out of 5.00 (average of 24 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“After shocking the R&B world with 1986’s Control – a gutsy, risk-taking triumph that was a radical departure from her first two albums – Michael and Jermaine Jackson’s younger sister reached an even higher artistic plateau with the conceptual Rhythm Nation 1814.” AMG

The title was inspired by her idea “that it would be great if we could create our own nation…that would have a positive message and that everyone would be free to join.” WK “1814” represents the year the national anthem was written. WK

Label executives wanted something like the hit-laden Control, but Jackson wanted to address social issues such as racism, poverty, and substance abuse. WK “In 1989, protest songs were common in rap but rare in R&B – Janet Jackson, following rap’s lead, dares to address social and political topics on The Knowledge, the disturbing State of the World, and the poignant ballad Living in a World (which decries the reality of children being exposed to violence).” AMG

That isn’t to say she didn’t still create a commercially viable record. There were “nonpolitical pieces ranging from the Prince-influenced funk/pop of Miss You Much and Alright.” AMG She incorporated new jack swing, pop, dance, and rock such as “pop/rock smoker Black CatAMG in songs ranging “from mechanized dance rhythms to soft balladry, giving it appeal across multiple radio formats.” WK

Rhythm Nation became the only album in history to land seven top-5 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was also the only album to produce #1 hits in three separate calendar years. WK “Miss You Much” topped the charts in 1989; Escapade and “Black Cat” were #1 songs in 1990, and Love Will Never Do Without You accomplished the feat in 1991.

She also turned again to ex-Time bandmates Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, “one of the more soulful production/songwriting teams of 1980s and ‘90s R&B.” AMG “Jackson’s voice is wafer-thin, and she doesn’t have much of a range – but she definitely has lots of soul and spirit and uses it to maximum advantage.” AMG Despite her vocal shortcomings, she turns out “caressing, silky ballads Someday Is Tonight, Alone, and Come Back to Me.” AMG

“For those purchasing their first Janet Jackson release, Rhythm Nation would be an even wiser investment than Control – and that's saying a lot.” AMG

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