Janet Jackson - Control single cover

CD single cover art.

"Control" is the fourth single from Janet Jackson's 1986 album, Control. The song was written by Jackson, James Harris III, and Terry Lewis and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Its arrangement, built upon complex rhythmic tracks, showcased state-of-the-art production. The song is about Jackson wanting to finally take control of her life. Jackson sings, "When I was seventeen, I did what people told me." Now she is an adult who wants to make her own decisions in life. The spoken intro of "Control" was sampled on Kylie Minogue's song "Too Much of a Good Thing", from her 1991 album Let's Get to It.

Released on October 28, 1986, the song won a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video in 1988, beating out her brother Michael, Whitney Houston, and Jody Watley.

In 1990, the Philippine Basketball Association covered the song was used as a credits for the highlights of the PBA All-Filipino Conference in the longtime television partner Vintage Sports a sports-oriented media company was aired on PTV-4. It was the Game 7 of the 1990 All-Filipino Conference Finals between the Presto Tivolis vs. Purefoods Hotdogs, Presto wins 115-96 in Game 7 before the credits of this song.

In 2011, the song was included in the Dance Central DLC setlist to be played using Kinect for the Xbox 360. The song is also listed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.

Glee covered the song in the Season 3 Sectionals episode "Hold On to Sixteen" where the New Directions covered a trio of Jackson songs. Dianna Agron (as Quinn Fabray) opens the song, with leads sung by Darren Criss (as Blaine Anderson) and Kevin McHale (as Artie Abrams).

Chart performanceEdit

Released in 1986, the single peaked at number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, becoming Jackson's fourth consecutive top five hit on the chart; it also peaked at number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and the Hot Dance Club Play charts. The song captured a pivotal moment off the album by showcasing a female streak of independence. It was the 37th biggest Hot 100 single of 1987, the fifth biggest Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs single of 1987, and the ninth biggest-selling 12" single of 1987. In the UK it missed the top 40, peaking at number 42.

Music videoEdit


Screen cap from the video.

The music video, directed by Mary Lambert, starts off with Jackson fighting with her parents because she wants to move out of the house. Her father is deadset against it. She then leaves the house and is greeted, in her driveway by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jellybean Johnson, and Jerome Benton. They take her to a concert hall to perform, on her first gig, her single "Control" where she shows that she wants to be "the one in control". The video version of the song is different from the album version. The nine-minute video was made available on the iTunes Store on April 27, 2007. Ja'net Dubois, who co-starred on Good Times with Jackson in the 1970s, plays her mother in the video. Paula Abdul choreographed the video.

The live footage was recorded at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Both Lambert and producer Sharon Oreck recall it as a difficult and trying experience; Oreck said in 2011 that it was her "worst nightmare" of the many videos she had produced. The crowd, which had been told that they would see Janet Jackson perform, had expected a free concert. "Instead we gave them 50 takes of Janet lip-synching 'Control,'" said Oreck.

At the time, Janet Jackson was in the midst of firing her father, Joe Jackson, from his position as her manager. Oreck said he was bitter and taking it out on everybody else. He told Oreck that he would not let Janet sit on the trapeze she is seen being lowered onto the stage in unless there was $1 million of liability insurance coverage on her. She told the record company, which responded "Don't tell him anything, but don't tell him no, because we don't say no to Joe Jackson." This evasiveness did not work, and he became even angrier and threatened her with violence. Finally Lambert told A&M she and Oreck would quit the video unless they told Joe Jackson his daughter was insured.

The situation got worse later in the shoot. A&M told Lambert they wanted more white people visible in the audience. There were a few scattered throughout, and under the guise of simple repositioning she began having them sit further forward. Eventually the crowd as a whole figured out what was really happening, and grew angry. Lambert told the record company representative that she absolutely could not go on due to the potential for violence, and he went out and explained things to the crowd, which calmed down enough to complete the video.

Live performancesEdit


Jackson performing "Control" live on the Rhythm Nation 1814 Tour in 1990.

Jackson has performed the song on many of her tours, including Rhythm Nation 1814 Tour, The Velvet Rope Tour, All for You Tour, Rock Witchu Tour, and Number Ones: Up Close and Personal. The only tour that it was not included on was the janet. Tour.

Track listingsEdit

U.S. and European 7" single
A. "Control" (edit) – 3:26
B. "Fast Girls" – 3:18
U.S. and European 12" single
A1. "Control" (extended version) – 7:33
B1. "Control" (dub version) – 5:55
B2. "Control" (a cappella) – 3:55
UK 7" single
A. "Control" (edit) – 3:26
B. "Pretty Boy" – 6:32
UK 12" single
A1. "Control" (extended version) – 7:33
A2. "Control" (edit) – 3:26
B1. "Control" (dub version) – 5:55
B2. "Pretty Boy" – 6:32
Australian 12" single
A1. "Control" (video mix) – 7:33
B1. "Control" (dub version) – 5:55
B2. "Control" (a cappella) – 3:55

Official versions/remixesEdit

  • Album version – 5:53
  • A cappella – 3:56
  • Design of a Decade US edit – 5:15
  • 7" edit – 3:26
  • Extended mix – 7:33
  • Dub version – 5:55
  • Video mix – 6:02
  • Video mix edit – 4:35


Chart (1986/1987) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report 82
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders) 20
Canadian Singles Chart 18
Dutch Top 40 12
New Zealand Singles Chart 16
UK Singles Chart 42
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 5
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs|Hot Dance Club Play 1

Year-end chartsEdit

End-of-year chart (1987) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 37
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