“Alright” (Janet Jackson, 1989)

If you’re reading this, you probably like music a lot. I’m betting that you, like me, think that a song has to be either really special or really awful in order to remember when and where you were when you heard said song for the first time.

“Alright” might’ve been the second song I heard from Rhythm Nation after “Miss You Much.” While “MYM” sounded familiar to anyone who’d jammed to Control (and the many copycat records that followed), “Alright” sounded harder, fresher, newer. Janet (and co-producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis) were merging the synth-heavy Minneapolis sound with the more aggressive rhythms of (the still synth-heavy) new jack swing sound. The result was a track that stood out even on an album chock full of standout songs.

Yeah, Janet’s voice could’ve been bumped up in the mix ever so slightly, but that’s a minor quibble. “Alright” was also subjected to a plethora of remixes, some of which featured Heavy D in a guest rapper role (the first to perform that function on a record by any of the more popular Jackson family members), and all of which were good–just not as good as the original.

Interesting observation X 2

-Heavy D was the first rapper to appear on a track by Janet OR Michael Jackson. Janet was first, which calls to mind MJ’s use of Teddy Riley as a main producer two years after his brothers used Teddy on the 2300 Jackson Street album. Maybe his siblings have a right to be a little salty?

-”Alright” is clearly about Janet falling in love with Rene Elizondo. I have so many questions about that relationship, it’s not funny. Janet needs to write an actual autobiography (especially in light of this latest mess about her last ex), but I believe she is legally prohibited from spilling the beans on a few things-Rene included.

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