For Today’s #CultureClassic we honor the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame’s newest inductee and one of the true legendary creators for The Culture, the one-and-only Janet Jackson and her hit song and video “Rhythm Nation“.
The song was the second single from Janet’s fourth studio album Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 which was released in 1989. It was written and produced by Jackson, and her long-time collaboration partners (and super-producers in their own right) Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The song was Jackson’s response to various tragedies in the media, with her choosing to create a socially conscious record combining political statements with her signature upbeat dance music.
And despite it’s somewhat controversial nature the song was one of Jackson’s biggest of her career. It peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and was #1 on both the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Dance Club Songs charts. “Rhythm Nation” received several accolades, including the BMI Pop Award for “Most Played Song”, the Billboard Award for “Top Dance/Club Play Single” and a Grammy nomination for Jackson as “Producer of the Year.”
And don’t sleep, the music video for “Rhythm Nation” is just as iconic and memorable as the song. It was directed by Dominic Sena, and was the anchor for Jackson’s long-form Rhythm Nation 1814 film. It was filmed in black-and-white to portray the song’s theme of racial unity and set in a “post-apocalyptic” warehouse. Oh and the choreography is still being emulated by young performers both in and out of The Culture to this day.
Jackson’s record label attempted to talk her out of filming the video but Jackson stuck to her artistic vision which paid off in a major way as the video received two MTV Video Music Awards for “Best Choreography” and “Best Dance Video” and Jackson herself won the Billboard Award for “Best Female Video Artist” in addition to the “Director’s Award” and “Music Video Award for Artistic Achievement.” The Rhythm Nation 1814 film won the Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video and the video’s iconic blacked out, military style outfit was inducted into the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where its hand-written lyrics are also used in the museum’s class on female songwriters.
#FunFact: “Rhythm Nation” is so popular and Janet Jackson song it has been included in two of Jackson’s greatest hits collections, Design of a Decade: 1986–1996 (1995) and Number Ones (2009).
If you enjoyed that look at a throwback Hip-Hop/R&B classic. Check out more of our #CultureClassics:
Written by @TalentedMrFord