This past weekend marked the 20th anniversary of Mariah Carey’s “Heartbreaker” (featuring Jay-Z). It was the lead single from her sixth studio album, Rainbow, and her 14th a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, which put her ahead of Michael Jackson and in third place behind Elvis Presley and the Beatles — she has since passed Elvis.

“Heartbreaker” was Mariah’s first single that featured a rapper on the original version (as opposed to a remix) and Jay-Z’s first No. 1 hit. The song, which sample’s Stacy Lattisaw’s “Attack of the Name Game,” was supposed to be on the Glitter soundtrack, but due to delays, she decided to include it on Rainbow — an album she recorded in three weeks because she was “ready to get the FUCK! ASAP!” out of her contract with Columbia Records. Long story for another post.

At the time, hating-ass critics accused Mariah of making a “Fantasy” redux, but anyone with a good ear knows that it’s closer to “Dreamlover” than anything else. And besides, only certain artists — typically female, typically “glamorous” and “girly” — get called to task for having distinct styles. The industry is packed with raggedy rock and country acts making the same song over and over again, so I don’t wanna hear it.

The “Heartbreaker” remix, which featured Da Brat and Missy Elliot, is arguably the best remix Mariah ever made, as are the videos — for the original and the remix, with the latter being one of the most expensive of all time. Check ’em out below.

Original


Remix

Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 turns 30 today, so it’s all Janet everything ’round here. The retrospective on the album deliberately omits a favorite track because “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” deserves more than mention.

Released as the album’s fourth single in October 1990, “Love Will Never Do” is a song about all the outside forces that impact relationships negatively — naysaying friends, outside peen/poom, you name it. But when the love is rilly rill, none of it stands a chance.

Written by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis — with Janet co-producing the track with the duo — the song is R&B yet “pop” yet rock yet funk. And it is all those things without seemingly trying too hard.

Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis had considered making the song a duet — Prince, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant were all contenders, but the idea was nixed during recording process. The duo asked Janet to sing the first verse in a lower octave because that was supposed to be the male part, but Janet apparently did it so good that they kept the track as it was.

The best part of this song is the chanting at the end: “Love will never do! Never do without you!” It was typical of the Minneapolis sound, which Uncle Jim and Uncle Terry brought to a lot of their work around that time. And it gave the song the added oomph that makes it the classic it is today.

“Love Will Never Do” was Rhythm Nation‘s  seventh single, seventh top 5 hit, and fourth No. 1 in the United States. And though it has a beat, the deliberate choice to not dance in its video is simply brilliant. Fine-ass, smiling-ass Janet is all we need.

“Love Will Never Do” is not only my favorite track on Rhythm Nation, it is one of my favorite in Janet Jackson’s entire catalog. Click play and get your blessing.

Today in 1989, Janet Jackson released her fourth studio album, Janet Jackon’s Rhythm Nation 1814. For most artists, an album this good would be their best by far, but when you’re the same woman who gave the people Control and Janet, this is just another album. She pisses excellence every morning.

While we could debate what album is her best, there is no debating that Rhythm Nation is Janet Jackson’s most important work. In discussing said importance, most people will mention its socially conscious messaging — and yes, that is certainly a contributing factor — but what makes this album so special is the breadth of musical styles it contains. Janet showed us that you could have new jack swing, slow jams, “pop” ditties and rock songs on the same album without it sounding crazy or forced. The only other artist who has accomplished this is her brother, Michael Jackson. God bless Katherine.

I am reluctant to mention the song’s socially conscious messaging because I am staunchly opposed to the idea that music has to be personal or political in order to be considered important. However, it is impossible to talk about Rhythm Nation without talking about how it tackled a range of social issues, particularly race relations. And the beauty of Janet’s treatment of these topics is that it was done over danceable beats. The ingenuity of it all.

Rhythm Nation was Janet’s second outing with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, with the duo lending their talents to 11 of the album’s 12 songs — the exception being “Black Cat,” which Janet wrote all by herself. Janet co-wrote six other tracks with the Minneapolis natives, who made sure to infuse the Minneapolis sound into much of the album — it is the chant-iest album you ever heard and we love it for that.

Rhythm Nation has sold over 12 million copies worldwide and was the best selling album in the United States in 1990. The album produced four No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and a total of seven top 5 hits — the latter is a record that stands to this day.

Today is Thursday, so instead of including my favorite track from the album, that song is getting its own TBT post.

Most people know Barry White as arguably the greatest barrytone — see what I did there? — to ever do it, but he was so much more than vocalist. He was a hell of a songwriter and also an orchestra conductor. The talent jumped out.

Aside from his solo singing career, he assembled and served as the conductor for the Love Unlimited Orchestra, a 40-member ensemble that backed Barry and the Love Unlimited — his trio of backup singers who also had a career of their own. The orchestra would go on to release its own singles and actually reached No. 1 in 1974 with “The Love’s Theme,” which is one of only 25 purely instrumental songs to rule the Billboard Hot 100.

On what would’ve been his 75th birthday, let’s revisit this classic, which serves as a reminder that lyrics are great, but melody is supreme. Click play.

The day after the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, where Missy Elliott received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Janet Jackson made an Instagram post congratulating Missy and talking about what a great person she is.

In the video, we find out that Janet’s nickname for Missy is “Jack,” which makes no damn sense. However, what was truly special about the video is that it showed us how close Missy and Janet have remained through the years.

The two icons first collaborated on the first remix of “Son of a Gun (I Bet You Think This Song Is About You),” the third single from Janet’s All for You. The album version was a duet between Janet and Carly Simon, with the latter contributing a spoken performance that is equal parts awkward and amazing. And if you’re wondering why Carly Simon was called, it’s because “Son of a Gun” samples the chorus of Carly’s 1972 hit, “You’re So Vain,” a song that is legendary because it is about three famous exes that remained nameless until 2015, when Ms. Simon confirmed that the second verse is about Warren Beatty.

Similarly, “Son of a Gun” is rumored to be about one of Janet’s exes, namely René Elizondo Jr., who she had just divorced months before the song was recorded. She has never confirmed this publicly, but given that he sued her for spousal support and she talks about a greedy motherfucker in the song, I’d bet money on it.

On the remix, which is about two minutes shorter than the original, we get two verses from Missy and a lot less Carly. There’s a second remix with Diddy, but it doesn’t quite knock like the first one.

Janet co-wrote and co-produced “Son of a Gun” with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (along with the featured performers). Unlike most of their other collaborations, this track is not so melodic, but the result is the same: magic.

The song’s video features Janet, Missy and a gang of sexy lady ghouls haunting a man as he runs through the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. You love to see it.

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video is so highly regarded that people often forget that he has other videos that are just as good. “Remember the Time” serves as a perfect example.

Written by MJ, Teddy Riley and Bernard Belle, “Remember the Time” was the second single from the Dangerous album. Teddy brought the new jack swing vibes he was known for, while Michael brought magic he brings to every song, and the result is a timeless chune.

Even without a video, “Remember the Time” is a standout in Michael Jackson’s discography, but then the King decided to go awf with a short film featuring an all-star cast of Black Hollywood royalty. Directed by the late great John Singleton, the video is set in Ancient Egypt and features Michael Jackson as a dancing-ass wizard, Eddie Murphy as the pharaoh, and Iman as his queen.

Between the story line, the special effects and the choreography, the “Remember the Time” video is simply iconic. I watch it in awe today as I did when it was first released.

On his 61st birthday, let’s take a moment to remember the time when MJ used to mesmerize us with classic after classic. He was truly a master at his craft, and as the years pass, it becomes clearer that no one did it quite like him.

The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards was the least-watched one yet, with only 1.93 million viewers tuning in. Many will be quick to blame the quality of the performances, and while some were trash, it wouldn’t be a fair critique — last year was definitely worse. The fact of the matter is that these Generation Z kids and younger millennials don’t care about award shows the way previous generations did. Also, the fragmented nature of media in 2019 makes it harder to get large segments of the population to watch the same thing at the same time from start to finish.

But enough media analysis, let’s talk about the show.

Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” took home the Video of the Year award while Ariana Grande won Artist of the Year. Quite frankly, none of this really matters because MTV is no longer the institution it once was. For a full list of winners, click here.

This year’s VMAs gave us a few amazing performances. Normani performed “Motivation” for the first time (and killed it), Missy performed a medley before receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award (more on that later), and then there was Lizzo.

Without a doubt, Lizzo owned the night. Her performance started with her current hit, “Truth Hurts,” and then transitioned into what is arguably her breakthrough hit: “Good As Hell.” The latter didn’t chart until very recently, but for over three years, we have heard it in movies and commercials. Lizzo’s performance was all about self-love, especially for those who get very little love from the world around them. If you weren’t feeling good ass hell by the end of her performance, check your pulse.


The VMAs took place in Newark, NJ, this year, and in honor of the city, we got a medley of some of Jersey’s greatest. Queen Latifah, Redman, Fetty Wap, Naughty By Nature and Wyclef Jean gave me the performance I didn’t know I needed, so it definitely deserves an honorary mention.


There were also performances by Lil Nas X, the Jonas Brothers, Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, Rosalia, Ozuna, J Balvin and Bad Bunny. Lil Nas X performed “Panini” and I have never been more disappointed. Instead of just rocking the mic the way such a song demands, he lip-synced the whole thing a la Britney, except he didn’t have the moves to justify that. Horrible performance.

Speaking of horrible performances, Taylor Swift plays too damn much.


Now, back to Missy. Her performance was great, but for an artist who has had so many iconic collabos over the years, we could have used a guest appearance or two. Yes, Alyson Stoner (a.k.a. the lil white girl from the “Work It” video) made an appearance and it was cute, but that is not nearly enough. We needed Timbo or Luda or Da Brat or SOMEBODY.


It was a decent performance, but we were def left wanting. The only consolation is her insistence on referring to the award as the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard even though MTV dropped the King’s name from its title. We stan a loyal, defiant queen.