I'd make you call out my name, I'd ask who it belongs to
If I was your woman, the things I'd do to you
But I'm not
So I can't
Then I won't
But if I was your girl...
Rhythm Nation 1814 was the last album Janet was contracted to record for A&M Records. With the success of that record and Control, a bidding war ensued for her services. Richard Branson came out on top, signing her for eight figures—the exact number is unknown, but is estimated around $32-50 million.
But what could she do for an encore after the last contract? For her, the answer was easy: blaze a new trail, and distance herself further from her famous family, proving once and for all that she could be a megastar in her own right.
Hence the period in the album title.
Though she kept Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as co-producers along with her, she took a much larger role in writing the songs on the album. She began to diversify from the New Jack Swing sound she helped craft, adding in the Hip Hop Soul subgenre that Mary J. Blige and Jodeci popularized the year prior. The lyrics in her songs reflected more liberally sexual imagery, but still tastefully so. She sought to give a no-holds-barred female perspective to sexuality.
The final album was a CD format-busting 75 minutes long, and featured interludes between most of the songs, just like Rhythm Nation. A two-disc Limited Edition CD album was released soon after, with the second CD featuring remixes of several of the album's tracks.
To say it worked would be an understatement. The newly-christened "Queen of Pop" would turn janet. into a six-times Platinum record in the United States. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, finishing in the Year-End Top 10 for two consecutive years (#4 in 1993, #8 in 1994). The album would also make a bigger impact worldwide, selling 19 million copies in total, her biggest-selling album to date. In the end, it would reach #31 in the Billboard Decade-end Chart for The '90s.
Eight singles were released from the album, and six hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100: "That's the Way Love Goes", "If", "Again", "Because of Love", "Any Time, Any Place", and "You Want This". "That's the Way Love Goes" would also be her highest-charting song in the UK, hitting #2.
Janet launched a world tour to promote the album on Thanksgiving weekend of 1993, and toured through April 1995, playing 123 shows over seven legs and grossing over $83 million worldwide.
"That's the Way Love Goes" won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1994. The music video for "If" raked up awards, including the MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video.
The song "Again" appeared in the 1993 film Poetic Justice, in which Janet starred alongside Tupac Shakur. But that film has a separate soundtrack (the song is not on it), and the soundtrack features no other songs by Janet. Nevertheless, "Again" was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song at the 66th Academy Awards in 1994, where she performed the song at the awards ceremony; it lost to "Streets of Philadelphia".
- "Morning" (0:31)
- "That's the Way Love Goes" (4:24)
- "You Know..." (0:12)
- "You Want This" (5:05)
- "Be a Good Boy..." (0:07)
- "If" (4:31)
- "Back" (0:04)
- "This Time" (6:58)
- "Go on Miss Janet" (0:05)
- "Throb" (4:33)
- "What'll I Do" (4:05)
- "The Lounge" (0:15)
- "Funky Big Band" (5:22)
- "Racism" (0:08)
- "New Agenda" (4:00)
- "Love Pt. 2" (0:11)
- "Because of Love" (4:20)
- "Wind" (0:11)
- "Again" (3:46
- "Another Lover" (0:11)
- "Where Are You Now" (5:47)
- "Hold on Baby" (0:12)
- "The Body That Loves You" (5:32)
- "Rain" (0:18)
- "Any Time, Any Place" (7:08)
- "Are You Still Up" (1:36)
- "Sweet Dreams" (0:14)
- "Whoops Now" (4:59)
"My mind is starting to burn with forbidden tropes"
- all lowercase letters: The album title, janet plus a period.
- Award-Bait Song: By virtue of its inclusion in the film Poetic Justice, "Again" became that, even though it wasn't on that film's own soundtrack album. It was indeed nominated for an Oscar. An alternate version of its music video features scenes from the film playing on a TV.
- But I Would Really Enjoy It: "If" is all about this trope and then some.
- Dominatrix: Implied in "If", especially in its preceding intro and the music video, where Janet and her dancers are in total control of the male dancers."Be a good boy, and put this on..."
- Epic Rocking: The R&B equivalent, as "Any Time, Any Place" and "This Time" are both around seven minutes.
- Genre Throwback: "New Agenda" is a throwback to both the production and sociopolitical lyricism of Rhythm Nation, complete with a guest rap, courtesy of the forever militant Chuck D.
- Hip Hop Soul: One of the first hip hop soul albums to be released during the slow decline of new jack swing, though the latter still held a significant influence over the album.
- Hotter and Sexier: Critics noted how much riskier Janet's lyrics were in this album. She sought to give female perspective to sexuality, and by all accounts, it worked. Retrospective reviews would state her sexuality was even better than Madonna. She hammered this point home with the cover. See Shirtless Scene.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: "Any Time, Any Place" has Janet so hot for her lover, she doesn't want to wait to get to a room.
- New Jack Swing: janet. was Janet's last album to heavily feature the style she helped put on the map. "If" is particularly strong in this style.
- Old Flame: The subject of "Again" is expressing trepidation about meeting a former lover, and discovering that her feelings for him haven't completely gone away.
- Sampling: Even moreso than Rhythm Nation:
- "That's the Way Love Goes" samples James Brown's "Papa Don't Take No Mess", and interpolates a song by Toto.
- "You Want This" samples "Love Child" by The Supremes and "Jungle Boogie" by Kool & the Gang.
- "If" samples "Someday We'll Be Together" by The Supremes and "Honky Tonk Haven" by John McLaughlin.
- "New Agenda" samples songs by Kool & the Gang, Stevie Wonder, and Average White Band.
- Self-Titled Album: Subverted, as it's just her first name. She wanted to make a name for herself, and emphasize that her personal success had nothing to do with her famous family.
- Shirtless Scene: A very rare female example. The full version of the cover (which was initially used for Janet's Rolling Stone cover, and would be used for the Limited Edition cover) shows Janet completely topless, with only a pair of hands (belonging to her then-husband René Elizondo Jr.) covering up her breasts. This version of the cover has since been lampooned by nearly everyone and everything.
- The Stinger: The Hidden Track "Whoops Now" could be considered one.
Don't ever let me go
Say it just one time
Say you love me
God knows I do