By Christopher Woods/photo credit Lee Chapman
Anybody that knows me knows that I adore the Queen Janet Damita Jo Jackson. I have been in love with her since I first saw her slaying the Pleasure Principle choreography all by herself back in ’87. I was in love at 3. Fight me.
My love affair with Ms. Jackson (cuz I’m nasty) and her music has lasted to this day. Her catalogue is essentially the soundtrack of my life. She has a song for every feeling and every situation. I know this because I have a playlist of 202 of her songs and interludes from every album organized by tempo, theme, subject matter, and feeling. It is 12 hours and 7 minutes long. Be pissed.
For the casual Janet fan who needs some motivation at the gym or a new playlist I have narrowed down some of my favorite Janet tracks to keep you going during your workout.
Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814
Alright starts out its 6 minute 37 second runtime with a downbeat from the New Jack Swing that is heard throughout the album. It’s up-tempo and serves as a good pace for running or spin. This is one of my favorite songs, so it makes me perk up instantly. Recently toward the end of a difficult spin class, the instructor played Alright out of nowhere, and I had an instant burst of energy. This is a song about love and friendship and you can’t help but think about those in your life that have your back and motivate you. The instrumentation is intricate so you can find several elements to set the pace of your workout.
If starts with a guitar riff and then goes into the Supremes sample that has become iconic because of the dance breakdown in the music video. The verses are fast and staccato while the pre-chorus and chorus are more melodic. This is good for interval training. By the time the breakdown starts at the 3 minute mark you should be well on your way to a full sweat. In the song Janet is fantasizing about all the things she would do to her crush. You can think about getting sexy for your gym crush while this song plays.
All Night (Don’t Stop)
This song is a dancer’s dream. The instrumentation is intricate with a good tempo. You can’t help but get caught in the groove while Janet sings “Work it like you’re working a pole. Shake it till you’re shaking the floor. Pop it like you’re popping a cork. Don’t stop. Don’t stop.” If that’s not motivation to meet your fitness goals I don’t know what is!
Another gem from the janet. album is the house inspired “Throb.” Most of the words she’s saying are mumbled under the beat with the exception of the simple chorus and the chants of “Here we go. Here we go. Here we go now.” They play a lot of house music at the gym anyway, so you might as well listen to something with some moans and heavy breathing as motivation to get busy on your fitness.
This track from Janet’s most recent album shows her and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis’ consistency as hit makers who know what it takes to make people dance. Again, it is an up-tempo track with staccato verses. In this song she is talking about the importance of originality and living on your own terms. She sings, “Can’t nobody tell you what you can’t do. Shut that down automatic. And I guarantee they’ll fall in line. Watch ‘em all go. Dammn baby.” Here, again, she is giving us motivation to be our best selves. Certainly fitness is a part of that.
All For You
All For You
This is classic Janet, and just a fun song. I love the Luther sample and all the memories it brings back from high school. You couldn’t go anywhere in the summer of 2001 without hearing this song on the radio. It was everywhere. There are dance and house remixes aplenty, so you can definitely use it during a cardio session. After a good workout your endorphins will have you singing along with this song. You just might even get up the nerve to talk to your gym crush. It could be “all for you.”
The Velvet Rope
Together Again is another house inspired dance track that was everywhere when it was released in 1997. The song was inspired by the loss of Janet’s friend to AIDS. With all the turmoil going on in the news right about now we all need a good song after a workout to remind us of brighter days and make us feel hopeful about the future.
When I Think of You
I’m sure you see a pattern here. “When I Think of You” was Janet’s first number-one record, and to this day you can hear why. It’s another fun song that fills you with good energy. We certainly need more love in the world. Play this one in your car while you’re leaving the gym.
There are plenty more that could be on this list. What are some of your favorites?