Janet Jackson Music Videos: A History

Janet Jackson, a music icon whose career spans more than 40 years, undeniably defined the role model for today’s pop stars. Not only were his sounds and lyricism innovative, but the video treatments of his songs were groundbreaking. Something that will surely be explored in Janetthe new two-part documentary series that airs tonight (January 28) and tomorrow on Lifetime and A&E.

Before its release, Charm looks back at the history of the legend’s music videos. While not every video from Jackson’s decades-long career is featured here, the 10 included below all demonstrate the unparalleled impact of the singer’s artistry.

“Dream Street” (1984)

Despite releasing her self-titled debut album in 1982, Janet Jackson’s first-ever music video, “Dream Street,” wasn’t released until two years later. The title track from his second album, it details the bright-eyed ambitions told in the third-person narration of the youngest member of the Jackson family.

The video for the song is as humble and playful as the lyrics themselves. In it, the singer works as a depressed waitress as her main gig. However, her Hollywood aspirations lead her to a coveted dance audition with the one and only Debbie Allen. Of course, she lands the role – a predictable outcome made possible by their TV show. notorietyin which the two ladies starred.


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“The Pleasure Principle” (1987)

Considered one of the most memorable music videos in pop music history, “The Pleasure Principle” was released as the sixth single from Jackson’s third studio album. Control. Although the song was released in 1986, the music video didn’t air on MTV until a year later.

Choreographed by Barry Lather, “The Pleasure Principle” shows the singer completely solo in a sparsely furnished warehouse, dancing to her whims while casually wearing a t-shirt and pair of jeans. Its simple yet captivating premise showed just how charismatic Jackson is and has been emulated by other notable stars since, including Britney Spears, Teyana Taylor and Dua Lipa. Normani also nailed the hell of Jackson’s moves during a tribute to the singer at the 2018 BMI Awards.


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“Rhythm Nation” (1989)

Jackson has collaborated with songwriting duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for decades, and “Rhythm Nation” is one of their standout hits. The video coincided with the 1989 release of the singer’s fourth album, Janet Jackson’s Rhythmic Nation 1814. Directed by Dominic Sena (I’m going in 60 seconds, Swordfish), it is saturated with militant imagery, from the unisex black uniforms (topped with black caps) to the tight, synchronous nature of the dance routines.

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