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Top 10 Best Janet Jackson Songs

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Jason Porter
Script written by Jason Porter These are the best Janet Jackson songs! For this list, we're ranking the most important and unforgettable tunes from the decades-long career of one of pop music's most successful and enduring female singers. With such an expansive library of great songs, it wasn't easy to limit this list to just ten choices, so feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below.

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Top 10 Janet Jackson Songs

“Get the point? Good, let's dance.” Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 Janet Jackson songs.

For this list, we're ranking the most important and unforgettable tunes from the decades-long career of one of pop music's most successful and enduring female singers. With such an expansive library of great songs, it wasn't easy to limit this list to just ten choices, so feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below.

#10: “Miss You Much”
Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

An irresistible dance number that's guaranteed to get feet on the floor, “Miss You Much” is a perfect example of Janet's signature percussion-heavy sound, tight and technical without sacrificing melody or emotion. This song is lyrically straightforward, all about being infatuated and possibly in love with a man, and unafraid to let the whole world know. She misses him whenever he's away too long, and she's ready to tell his family and friends all about it. It's upbeat and enjoyable from start to finish, so when its short three minutes are up and Janet complains, “that's the end?”, we feel her one hundred percent.

#9: “Black Cat”
Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

Who knew Janet Jackson could rock some arena metal? Janet. This tune, which she wrote, showed off a different side to the singer, who was – and still is – primarily known for her pop music chops, proving that anything a rock band could do, she could do better. “Black Cat” has the powerful, melodic guitars and foot-stomping drums that made bands like Poison and Def Leppard famous, and Jackson's voice is more than a match for the heavy sounds, soaring above them in a way that could almost make Ann Wilson jealous. It remains a unique, and under appreciated, classic.

#8: “If”
Janet (1993)

A hybrid dance-funk-industrial hit – about her unfulfilled desire for the touch of a man who never seems to notice her – this song exemplifies the kind of feel-good naughtiness that defines the entire "Janet" album. It gets pretty explicit in its descriptions of Jackson's sexual fantasies, but it offsets them with a sense of longing for the object of her desire to make a move, giving it a little more depth than most songs about wanting to get it on. Janet's powerful vocals and velvety-smooth production take “If” over the top, making it the definitive song about wanting someone who's never reciprocated the feeling.

#7: “Love Will Never Do (Without You)”
Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

The intricate melody of this early-'90s hit is what puts it over the top. An energetic song about being in love no matter what anyone else says, it embodies the carefree confidence of young romance. Like many Janet Jackson songs, it still feels fresh and new today, thanks in part to spot-on production from her long-time collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. As a bonus, the music video features a cameo from actor Djimon Honsou, and footage of a shirtless guy in hurricane pants balancing on a giant semicircle. How could anybody say no to that?

#6: “What Have You Done For Me Lately”
Control (1986)

This contemporary R&B song about Jackson's frustration with her lover was an early hit for the singer, partly because of its strong, ear-wormy melody, but also because it dealt with a common issue about long-term relationships that a lot of listeners could relate to. “What Have You Done For Me Lately” is all about a lover who used to work hard to show Janet a good time, but now just sits around on her couch and puts things off instead of seizing the day. She's understandably sick of it, and the implication is clear: start having fun with me again, or we're through.

#5: “Together Again”
The Velvet Rope (1997)

A masterful song about mourning and hope, “Together Again” was inspired by the death of one of Janet Jackson's close friends due to complications arising from AIDS. Her airy vocals are supported by a house music backdrop that's offset with gospel sounds to lend the song a spiritual feeling. Even though the themes of hope and loss in “Together Again” might seem like they'd be at odds with its dance-heavy sound, the finished song works beautifully as a tribute to a lost loved one. It's sad and uplifting all at once, and we can't get enough of it .

#4: “That's The Way Love Goes”
Janet (1993)

This sleek, mid-tempo make-out jam showcased Jackson's sensual side without sacrificing melody to its slinky groove. “That's The Way Love Goes” is an ideal '90s R&B song, full of lush soundscapes, but tight enough that listeners never feel lost. She uses the repeated motif of a moth drawn to a flame to describe her blind attraction, telling us that she doesn't care if she gets burned as long as she can get close. This song spent a monumental 8 weeks at number one on the Billboard charts, and even snagged the singer a Grammy for Best R&B song.

#3: “All For You”
“All For You” (2001)

A disco-infused mega-hit that spent 7 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts, this song is Janet at her sexy, sunshiny best. It has an irresistible beat and a great melody that gets stuck in your head almost immediately. The lyrics are simple – it's all about being turned on by someone and wanting him to make a move – but the song has such a positive vibe that it never feels raunchy. “All For You” makes us feel good, makes it okay to have some deep and dirty thoughts, and is easily one of Janet's best tracks.

#2: “Nasty”
“Control” (1986)

This enduring classic plainly states one of modern life's great truths: nasty boys and their nasty cars don't mean a single thing. It's more than just a delightfully venomous broadside against entitled, self-absorbed men trying to get into Janet's pants: phrases from this song have entered the North American slang lexicon, especially the classic “No, my first name ain't 'baby'... it's Janet – Miss Jackson, if you're nasty.” It's the ultimate anthem for people who are fed up with sleazy guys – and it's still got a nasty enough groove to get the whole club moving, men and women alike.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

“The Pleasure Principle”
Control (1987)

HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1 (1995)

Control (1987)

#1: “Rhythm Nation”
Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

With a sharp, crisp sound, a clear social message, and an unforgettable hook, this, more than any other, is the song that permanently etched Janet Jackson into the landscape of American pop culture. “Rhythm Nation 1814” was the singer's breakout album, and the title track is a major reason why. Even decades after its release, this song still sounds fresh and original. Though many of her contemporaries tried to imitate “Rhythm Nation's” unique sound, nobody else ever really came close. It's not only Janet Jackson's best song, it's one of the best pop songs of all time.

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