Janet Jackson is some hot rivet shit

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as industrial music when I stumbled onto Janet’s Rhythm Nation 1814 film in my pre-teens, but I knew that I’d made a very important discovery. Later there would be the mix tapes and the radio shows that exposed me to my favorite music in its true form, but until then, isolated in suburbia and still learning English, Janet’s video was my first glimpse into the aesthetics of my favorite musical genre.

Having re-watched Rhythm Nation today, I have come to a very important conclusion: Janet Jackson is even more ÜBER than I initially thought. Here’s why:

  1. The uniforms! God, the uniforms. Those gloves with the riveted metallic plates? Hot.
  2. “We are a nation with no geographic boundaries, bound together by our beliefs.” NSK State, anyone? Laibach, take note: Janet beat you to it by 4 years.
  3. The precise, mechanical dancing that looks like military formations puts the type of industrial dancing that you see at today’s clubs to shame.
  4. The entire clip takes place in a steamy factory that recalls Test Dept’s Total State Machine.
  5. Despite the strong percussion and electronic elements, I’d be pushing it if I claimed that this awesome song was industrial. But you know what? Janet created this socially-conscious record on her terms, in the face of a record company pressuring her to only sing about love and relationships. Who knows what this could have been, had there not been that pressure at all?

By the way, Janet was my gateway for more than just industrial. Around the same time that I was listening to Rhythm Nation, I’d recorded her new song “If” off MTV. One day my dad found me watching this racy video and threw it in the garbage, calling it “pornography.” This left me confused and wondering if, oh no, maybe liking Janet meant that I was a lesbian! But that’s another story…

Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 -the Film- 1989:

15 Responses to “Janet Jackson is some hot rivet shit”

  1. E. Black Says:

    Whenever that video came on or my mom played it in the car I was all ears. I remember thinking those uniforms were amazing and that I wanted one so badly.

  2. theremina Says:

    Woot! Baby Janet Jackson and Jimmy Jams! I glommed onto this record as a wee one as well. It’s all about the military frock coat action.

    Can I confess something a bit off topic? The video you linked to made me think of it. I REALLY don’t understand what the fuss is about Combichrist and their ilk. Why are they so freakin’ popular? I got dragged to a performance of his a couple years ago. Synapscape opened and they were wonderful. But I think Combicrud put me off “live” EBM shows for the rest of my life. He’d hired a bunch of people to stand onstage and pretend to play instruments while he strutted and grunted to a backing track. Eventually some strippergoths joined the fracas and started rubbing their butts and boobies together. The place was packed with pale, brain-damaged jocks wearing vinyl pants and their gum-snapping girlfriends. And the “dancing”? Mother of muck. It was like watching dogs stand on their hind legs and try to play DDR while simultaneously swatting bees. Only far more drunk, and deeply, profoundly sexually frustrated.
    It gave me a headache and made my heart sad.
    Hey, different strokes for different folks, I guess.
    On that note, I’m gonna go listen to balloon farts now. ;)

  3. Tequila Says:

    For quite some time Janet Jackson took chances few other pop stars outside of maybe her brother (pre-pale as a ghost days.) She just managed to go her own path based on not only having the raw talent but the people behind her to help her pull it off. I still remember the interviews she gave about that particular album…her influences for it and even the nod to American history.

    Now what do we get? Glorified strippers singing about stuff that has about as much depth as a spilled glass of water…nowhere near the level of polish Janet had in her prime at that.

  4. Jerem Morrow Says:

    Hey, not only that, but I think this may’ve been ze first time I’d seen electric guitar used in a hip hop track. Back then, something rarely seen. Now, i usually despise the standard pop version of such genre-mixtures (rap metal anyone?), but it did instill in me the idea of musical boundaries (those enforced, STILL, by radio) being destroyed. So, she gets extra credit there.

    Theremina: Ja, I prefer EBM when it’s just little ol’ me, sitting alone, listening. Ze actual concerts are full o’ bulky frat boys, painted up, stomping und fisting air, with hilarious grimaces. It’s like watching ze doomy version of some Barney ze Purple Dinosaur episode.

  5. Daniel Yokomizo Says:

    Rhythm Nation looks like a kind of reverse Pro-Test, with the hip-hop people using industrial aesthetics with hip hop music. OTOH the percussion reminds me of oHGr or Rx. Janet should hook with Ogre just for the kick.

    Now on the Combiwhatever debate, I still can’t differentiate all these bands, they all sound the same: spooky vocoder, techno like beats and angry faces. I tried to understand their appeal for some time now, but most of their music is just ‘meh’. They wouldn’t survive a minute under the great old belgian ones. Ditto if we are talking about industrial or noise instead.

  6. zoetica Says:

    Rhythim Nation is flawless – great call on that one!

    But the real star of the post is the video of “Industrial Dance”..oh god. His feet! They do not leave the spot he’s in the entire time. And..SOCKS. Megalulz.

  7. Jeskah Says:

    Wow! I’ve been a dancer since I was 3, and when I was 15, one of the dance classes I did learnt that entire Rhythm Nation dance for a show. I had totally forgotten about it until I watched it then and remembered the entire sequence and how difficult it was to learn some parts!

  8. truthy Says:

    I must agree that video was truly art…and it took major balls on Janets part to try something like that.

  9. Medicated Says:

    OHHHHHH how i couldn’t agree with this whole post more! Jeez, i was a janet loving FREAK! and i used to practice the coreography in all her videos and perform them with my friends to the neighborhood kids… suburban life… HAH!

    it also made me think of this part of Beaches with bette midler that i used to constantly rewind and watch over and over again… i don’t know if you’ve seen beaches, but if you have- do you remember this part?

  10. rickie Says:

    i’m behind on the times. all those music video links are gone…

    but that industrial dancer, man…that is some embarraASSing shit!

  11. BlueAnchorNatasha Says:

    Wow, I grew up with this song especially.
    My dad used to play Janet quite often actually and living in a tiny duplex, sound traveled from one room to every room. I too, am guilty of borrowing my dads albums, including Janet, as a child, before I discovered Metallica’s S&M album and so began my young metal days.

    I have nothing positive to say about the industrial dancer video. It just goes to confirm yet another reason why I dont go ‘clubbing’. Oh the embarassment.

  12. Tertiary Says:

    I haven’t watched or listened to any Jacksons in a long time.

    You ever notice though, how on film, both Janet and Michael have this strange power to tell when something bad is happening to someone?

    Rhythm Nation is indeed a great tune. One of the best dancey social statement songs ever, I’d wager. There was a time when no one could touch the Jacksons for pitch perfect pop sensibility.

    Mer- I’d have imagined a Combichrist show to be a pallid, skinny (balding?) swede with a laptop and some sequencers, etc, cranking out beats. Apparently I am way the hell off.

  13. Ronald Chiprean Says:

    I love Janet Jackson so her parting the music business will definitely be a huge loss. Their family has had a huge influence on music from ever since I am able to recall.

  14. Terre Says:

    Dammit Janet

  15. rivet machine Says:

    I don’t like Janet.