Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Principle of Pleasure

Most people recognize how stellar this video is; without question, Janet is killin it. But as a song, Pleasure Principle is sorely underrated. Whereas Janet's singles usually seem wrapped in the glow of love, Pleasure Principle is one of the rare instances where listeners have the chance to hear Ms. Jackson direct an ex to the left. And, despite the obvious scorn that motivates the verbal send-off, Janet manages to weigh confidence and aggression ("I'm not here to feed your insecurities"), with just the right amount of naiveté ("I wanted you to love me") to give the record plenty of the charm listeners had come to expect from her after the runaway success of Control.

Also, believe it or not, in 1986 people actually thought Janet could sing (a notion I still support today), as she had yet to retreat to the whisper register that many began to associate with her at some point during the 90s, and Pleasure Principle supports that theory. Janet sounds comfortable, albeit non-threatening, throughout the course of the song, but it's on the ad-libs that surface near the song's end that she really shines (or at least flickers).

Still, it's clear that even at 20 Janet knew her vocals alone wouldn't pay the bills, as the album version of the song is remixed for the video, leaving less room for song, and more for dance; a smart move. In fact, I would argue that Pleasure Principle, along with Rhythm Nation and If, has done the most in establishing her contemporary pop-cultural identity as a world-class performer. Even today many people can't help but to remember her slinging that near-mullet around in a deserted garage, wearing different shades of denim and standard 80s kneepads, while delivering what is perhaps the most approachable dance routine of her career.

Although, contrary to reports from Janet herself, I don't believe she actually performed that infamous back-flip from the top of those crates. Something about that editing seems as suspect as that Billy Ray Cyrus wig she's rockin.

I've also included a live performance of the song. Emphasis on live; Janet rarely gets enough credit for sounding as good on stage as she does on record.


Ran said...

Awwww!!! This brings back memories!!! I remember knowing that whole dance from the video when I was younger!!!lolol Only part I never did was the flip!!! Was too nervous!!!lol One of my favs from her;o)

Anonymous said...

I just love JJ...she is so f'n cool