We are a part of the Rhythm Nation

Five, Four, Three, Two, One…

A musical explosion happened in 1989; I became hungry for all kinds of music, and voraciously consumed albums as if there were no tomorrow.

It felt like I bought a new album every other week, with the money I earned from doing my paper round, although in reality, I probably didn’t buy quite that many.

Previously, I hadn’t paid any attention to Janet Jackson. I knew who her brother was, of course, and was vaguely aware that her Control album existed. I had seen Control: the remixes in the bargain bin at Woolworths, but that was the extent of my knowledge of her.

Then, Miss You Much came out, I loved it, bought it, played it incessantly and eagerly anticipated the album.

I had never heard anything like it before; the pop funk, the industrial beats, the snippets of conversations between each song, the Jam and Lewis synths, the samples, the calls for social justice and the political messages within the songs themselves.

Then there were the visuals; black and white promo videos with slick choreography, and even a short film which seemed to cement Jackson as an artistic force.

Check out this insane dance routine:

For me, the first two thirds of the album are the best; it kind of trails off into a wasteland of ballads after that, and I usually fastforwarded everything after Escapade (yes, literally pressing the fastforward button, this was the 1980s after all, and I was mostly listening to this on my walkman).

Now, 31 years later, I still enjoy this music. I was so happy when all the 1814 remixes appeared on Spotify!

I was always puzzled as to why she released remix albums for both Control and Janet. but never for Rhythm Nation 1814.

There’s a plethora of remixes to choose from, with multiple mixes of Miss You Much, Escapade, Come Back To Me, Alright, Love Will Never Do (Without You), State of the World, Rhythm Nation, Black Cat plus a few non-album tracks (You Need Me and The Skin Game).

This is one of the few albums that I have owned, at various times, in three different formats: the original tape that I bought, the vinyl picture disc that I won from a magazine, and then, later, the CD.

Pitchfork calls the album “a thrilling mix of social messaging and dancefloor pleasure” and it is hard to disagree with that.

In these turbulent times Rhythm Nation still sounds as relevant as ever, a rally call to work together to overturn the prejudices in this world.

With music by our side
To break the color lines
Let’s work together
To improve our way of life
Join voices in protest
To social injustice
A generation full of courage
Come forth with me
People of the world today
Are we looking for a better way of life
We are a part of the rhythm nation
People of the world unite
Strength in numbers we can get it right
One time
We are a part of the rhythm nation

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