My first name ain't baby, it's Janet, Miss Jackson if you're nasty

Anyone born in the 1990s is probably looking at the title of this blog post rather blankly right now. Blinking politely and swiping the screen and moving on with disinterest, searching for a post about clothes, or London. Or something.

Some, however, will feel a smile begin to creep slowly over their face. Find themselves sitting up in their chair just a little bit straighter. Tapping Nasty furiously into their Spotify search box and turning the volume up just a little too loudly for a Sunday evening. Ferocious shoulder popping and determined head nodding may occur, followed by an energetic dance routine around the living room that causes noticeable perspiration.

Well, hello there. I see you too are partial to a bit of Janet - Miss Jackson if you're nasty.

My love for Janet began at an early age when I purchased my first album of hers on cassette tape (from Our Price, with voucher). Control, with its recognisable pillarbox red cover - Janet in jaunty-black-blazer-and-leather glove-combo and side pony tail accentuated with an arty gold squiggle - never left my Walkman and ensured I made full use of the autoreverse feature. I didn't have a bloody clue what 'Cause it's all about Control. And I've got lots of it' meant, but as long as the power of her music reached my ears through spongy, orange headphones, I didn't care.

Janet Jackson - ControlSONGS

Ultimately, Janet belted out smashing tracks that hold their own on any iPod in 2013 - nasty grooves, synth-pop and pulsating dance rhythms. Control is a slice of delicious 1980s R&B flavoured with a sprinkle of pop and is produced by the legendary Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. There's not a dud song on it. What Have You Done for Me Lately (ooo ooo ooo ooooo YEAH) still makes me smile and feel perplexed that someone as majestic as Janet would even allow those dancing feet anywhere near her couch.

Nasty was the song that made me furious and empowered - and want to dance. Give me a beat! screamed Janet as she reassured me that it absolutely was not OK to be disrespected by nasty boys. Let's Wait Awhile is in effect an innocent love song that tackles sexual abstinence, but I cannot listen to it without thinking of my big sister Jo and our friend Kelly in a home video, crooning seriously into the camera with hairbrush-microphones, hair gelled to the side and accompanying finger clicks - and laughing until my belly hurts. To protect their dignity, I shall not post this video here.


Speaking of which, there's no doubt that Janet made truly classic music videos - phew, could she dance. One of my all time favourites has to be When I Think of You. Watch and learn confident young starlets of today. Firstly, ensure it's choreographed by Paula Abdul, her of Straight Up fame (and later very embarrassing on X Factor). Set it in a colourful neighbourhood where everyone - street sweepers, drunks, police officers, random people reading newspapers and small children - can dance, proper FAME style. Style it with spectacular outfits from the 1980s - tight stonewash double denim, tight vests, flippy dresses and waistcoats all with very large earrings.

You're the lead singer? Well, team an oversized shoulder-padded blazer with a corset, gloves and superfluous jewellery and ensure that your hair is by far the biggest thing in the video. Run aimlessly from room to room looking utterly gorgeous, slide down staircases and smile at waiters. Walk purposefully through the streets, occasionally falling meticulously in line with your chums, and sailors, to dance. Finally, make a fire hydrant burst dramatically and for no apparent reason and proceed to perform an amazing choreographed routine in the jet of water - ensure that arm circling, hip wiggling and shoulder slamming are in time to the music. THAT is how you make a pop video.



Janet made me fall in love with fashion. She knew how to pair a baroque blazer with a flamboyant patterned shirt done right up to the top button and oversize earrings. She had HUGE hair that no scrunchie was ever going to hold. If it didn't have a shoulder pad, she wasn't interested. Gloves were not for keeping her hands warm, they were for FASHION. Do not even get me started on the Rhythm Nation era! Oh, that long-sleeved military jacket adorned with silver buttons and badges. The strength of the embellished baseball cap is breathtaking. Talk a walk through Shoreditch and you can bet your life there's a Janet influence right before your very eyes. In fact, I'd bet the oversized '80s shirt I'm wearing on it.

So, having a bad day? Feeling a bit miffed with someone or something? Been disrespected by a Nasty boy? Listen to the feminist catchphrase that is 'No my first name ain't baby, it's Janet, Miss Jackson if you're nasty' and stand up tall - mean business. Wear something gaudy, splashy and with shoulder pads. Dance. A lot.

Take Control. Janet style.

Janet Jackson - Nasty