FANDOM


Janet-Jackson-If

CD single cover art.

"If" is the second single from Janet Jackson's 1993 album, Janet. Written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, it was released as the album's second single on July 13, 1993 and became Jackson's second top five hit from the Janet. album.

The song recieved critical acclaim for its innovation, recieving a BMI Pop Award for "Most Played Song" and is also infamous for its iconic music video, which protrays voyeurism, futuristic technology and intricate choreography. The "If" video set many trends and won multiple accolades, including "Best Female Video" and "Best Dance Video" at the MTV Video Music Awards.

BackgroundEdit

Written by Jackson in a Virgin Records conference room, Jackson described the writing and recording process of "If", saying "Once you get into recording, it almost has a life of its own. We really got rolling when we did the song "If". Writing a song can happen any kind of way ... Jimmy [Jam] was watching a ballgame and playing around on the keyboards. I ask him to play the chords he was playing again ... "If" turned out to be funkier, gritter." Going into detail about the song's theme, she added "The song is about fantasizing. I've had those feelings [expressed in the song]..it's my time to share!" In Q Magazine, Jackson stated "If" being "about a girl who goes to a club and fantasizes about this guy: serious fantasies about the things she'd do to him if she was his girl – the positions and things like that. But she's not, so she can't, so she gets pretty frustrated in the second verse – without it being too much. It's still within good taste."

"If" was the original choice for the lead single from janet., with Jackson being pressured to release the song by her label Virgin Records after playing them a rough demo, telling her "it could have a great dance video". Complying with her instincts, Jackson decided to release "If" as the album's second single and instead debuted "That's the Way Love Goes" as the first offering from the album. Recounting the experience of choosing between the two songs, the song's co-producer Jimmy Jam said "we were finishing up recording later with Chuck D and we played him and [producer] Hank Shocklee the two songs. They said, ‘If. That’s like Janet saying I’m back!’ So Janet’s looking at us like ‘See? See!?’ And then he (Chuck) goes, ‘But that other song… you know when Sade releases a record and it’s not like a bunch of hype? She just slips it out there and you say, ‘Oh my God listen to this!?’ It introduces itself.” And we’re looking at Janet like, ‘See!?’”

"If" was viewed by both critics and the general public as an evolution in Janet's career, further advancing from the innovative industrial-based synth pop of her Control and Rhythm Nation 1814 albums. The song is considered to be inventive and a sonic progression, fusing elements of dance pop, rock, and hip-hop with trip-hop and industrial undertones. Janet's vocals, which transition from her lower to upper register from the song's verses to the chorus, were also praised in addition to the orchestral violins placed throughout the song and during the hook. The track contains a sample from Diana Ross & the Supremes' 1969 song "Someday We'll Be Together", and is built on a heavy metal guitar distortion heard throughout the song. The combination of heavy hip hop beats with an electric guitar and a trip hop sound was a relative departure in sound for Jackson, and an extension of styles she developed on her previous album.

The song was also controversial and very notable for its sexual content, which previously had not been explored in Jackson's music and was still viewed as somewhat of a taboo subject for female musicians at the time before it became more prevalent in pop culture. While previous songs such as "Let's Wait Awhile" and "Funny How Time Flies (When You're Having Fun)" preached abstinence and only flirted with the idea of sexual intimacy, "If" was a shocking contrast, with the lyrical theme of lust and fantasizing about an object of affection. The song's music video became iconic for its intricate choreography and raw sexuality, which continued Jackson's quest of pioneering the trend for pop artists transitioning from virginal and tame images to an edgier and more sex-driven style.

Jackson again explained her satisfaction in expressing the song's unexpected sexual content, stating "You see," Jackson continues, "sex isn't just fire and heat, it's natural beauty. Doing what comes naturally. It's letting go, giving and getting what you need. In the age of AIDS, it certainly requires being responsible. On a psychological level, though, good sex, satisfying sex, is also linked with losing yourself, releasing, using your body to get out of your body. Well, for the first time, I'm feeling free. I love feeling deeply sexual – and don't mind letting the world know. For me, sex has become a celebration, a joyful part of the creative process." Jackson is intrigued with the process – writing, dancing, developing concepts. Clearly, she's in full control. "Every aspect of my recording or performance is vital," she states adamantly. "Nothing happens without my approval." Speaking about the sexually-suggestive song and its choreographed routine, Jackson also said "It just comes to me", insisting her vocal phrasings "are not anything that I try to do purposely", adding "The one person that kept running through my head while I was writing these songs was my mother. I kept telling myself, 'My mother's going to be so surprised, but this is me.'"

CompositionEdit

"If" is set in the signature of common time and is written in key of E minor. It has a moderate tempo and a basic chord progression of Em—C/E—D.

Critical receptionEdit

"If" received positive reviews from critics and massive acclaim for its innovation and progress in Jackson's career, as well as it's individuality and resourceful use of multiple genres. Critics also favorably considered "If" as a sultry and sexually explicit song. The song's racy lyrics and explicit theme also received acclaim, with some critics praising "If" for being erotic while still maintaining an imaginative quality.

Entertainment Weekly exclaimed "If" "takes Jackson into exciting new terrain", setting "her voice against what sounds like a traffic jam in a city of cyborgs." Billboard describes "If" as a "rockin' dance track", saying the strings "anchor the climax of this rockin' dance track, which is perhaps more inseparable from its iconic music video than any of "janet."'s other singles based on its head-slapping choreography." The song's lyrical theme of feeling passion and lustful thoughts while avoiding the temptation to interfere with monogamy was also praised, adding "Though Jackson lets her mind race with naughty thoughts ("You on the rise as you're touchin' my thighs / And let me know what you like if you like I'll go / Down down down down da down down"), she ultimately stops herself from going after someone else's man ("But I'm not / so I can't / then I won't / But if I was your girl.")"[15] Idolator called the song an "industrial dance/sex epic", with another review classifying it as "infectious and raunchy", adding "Janet Jackson's unmistakable voice is used to perfection to create an eerily tropical but beautiful track." David Nathan of B&S Magazine remarked "If" pulls no punches. Listening to it and reading the lyrics Jackson wrote in a Virgin Records conference room, I blush - in itself a rare occurrence.

Nicholas Jennings of Maclean's wrote, "One standout song [from janet.] is the guitar-driven If, with its explicit lines. "You on the rise/as you're touching my thighs". Craig S. Semon of the Telegram & Gazette commented: "One of the most exciting tracks on "janet." is the naughty seducer, 'If'." Jackson is consumed with sexual fantasies of a man who doesn't even know she exists. Wailing guitar chords and hip-hop programming move this punchy, fast-paced dance number as Jackson creates erotic pictures in the mind of her soon-to-be lover to get to his physique". Jon Pareles of The New York Times noted the song starting "with screaming guitar and a chanted verse, rising to a sweet melody." Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine considered the song as "the orchestral flourish from Diana Ross & the Supremes' 'Someday We'll Be Together'", writing, "[the song] seems to exist for the sole purpose of providing the impetus behind one of the greatest dance-break routines in music video history."[19] Some critics noted the presence of a riff guitar. Greg Kot from Chicago Tribune wrote, "There's a surprising, fuzzed-up guitar riff lifted from Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer' that gives 'If' some punch."

BBC Radio 3's CD Review Magazine described "If" as "impressive industrial fury" with the theme of "oral satisfaction", with Vibe calling it "a weird masterpiece". The New York Times' entertainment website Vulture.com describes "If" as "a trip-hop fever dream of distorted guitars, trance-like backing vocals, and Jackson’s erotic mumbles", also classifying it as "metallic glossiness" and a "rock-infused power ditty". The song's cutting edge and futuristic vibe were also praised, noting to be an "impressive feat to make a song that sounds as if it’s from the future." "The '90s, of course, facilitated the ubiquity of samples in pop music, but one of the genius aspects of “If” is its isolation of the motif — a seemingly innocuous but extremely effective garnish." The review also commended Jackson's vocal performance on the song as being "focused" and "sinister", exclaiming "the verses of Janet’s song practically seethe with intensity. Listen beyond Janet’s own voice to the multiple drones behind her: This is a truly focused pursuit", concluding her delivery in "If" to "work against the normal attributes of her voice, which is usually a soft coo (cf. “Again,” another single off this diverse album). This is why the song works so well. There is something sinister about a pop star straddling octaves against a sea of percussive churns and waves." "And regardless of contemporary starlet, you'd be hard-pressed to find a song with a more audacious yet expertly-worded line than “your smooth-and-shiny feels so good against my lips, Sugar.” Yowza." A Crowded Bookshelf interprets "If" as "a swirling epic number", praising the song's various genres and Jackson's vocal delivery, adding "Jackson marries 90s disco with guitar-rock for this swirling epic number with a Hendrix-lite guitar, shrieking throughout the song. Jackson sings at a break-neck speed, practically rapping about the salacious pleasures of her lover – this is one of Jackson’s most explicit songs (at the time)." Additionally, an alternate review gave the song similar commendation, exclaiming "If" has "a lot of styles on display", which included "distorted synth meets acoustic guitar."

Rolling Stone qualified "If" as simultaneously being both "subtle and bold", with Popservations giving a similar anecdote – "Jam and Lewis gave Janet’s bedroom fantasies a fierce dressing-up — tough jeep beats, hard-rock guitar, and a Diana Ross & The Supremes sample — and some missed just what she was on about." Yahoo! Music considered "If" to be a "fast and frenzied dance tune" beginning with "unmistakable background chords which anchor the song down and dirty all the way through to the end." A similar critique from Pop! Blerd noted "If" "starts with guitar feedback" before turning into "a sweaty, sexy dance workout", with another review saying "Janet's unstoppable album janet. gave us hit after hit after hit, and 'If' blew us away", adding the song "rocked out with a raunchy lyric and vibe, seeing Janet's beginning of embracing her sexual self", also declaring it to be "new", "hot", and "raw".

Slant Magazine remarked the song's sexuality was only "impending or simply imagined", adding "the very title [of "If"] of which embodies that fact, is essentially about masturbation, with Janet describing what her lover's "smooth and shiny [cock]" feels like against her lips while ostensibly rubbing herself off under the covers". In a 2013 list of "Sexiest Janet Jackson songs", Esquire Magazine praised the song's hypothetical situation, saying "Janet wants you but you're in another relationship and she respects boundaries (but her mind is still dirty)." The Urban Daily also noted the song's contrast from Jackson's previous lyrical topics, clarifying that although she began her career as "a sweet fresh faced girl singing little ditties about young love", years later she would "became the sex kitten every man dreamed she would be", adding that while she had previously teased about her sexuality and preached abstinence, "If"'s racy lyrics "purposely leaves something to the imagination. What body part is she referring to when she sings about a man’s “smooth and shiny”? Could Janet be talking about the lips, chest, or a man’s procreation stick? For freakiness’ sake, I’d like to go with the last option over everything."

Music critic Richard Croft raved about the song's quality, production, and erotic nature, also comparing it to a few of Jackson's subsequent single releases. "The janet. album was a big sex-fest from beginning to end but nowhere was it hotter than ‘If’. ‘Throb’ may have had the moaning but ‘If’ had that fired-up, animal sexuality that you can also hear on ‘Feedback’ [from Discipline] and ‘So Excited’ [from 20 Y.O.]. The verses are a bit dirty, so I think Janet had to sing them reallyreallyfastandstickallthewordstogether so people wouldn’t realise they were listening to FILTH." Giving detail about the song's structure, Croft remarked "Beginning with some amazing guitar bits that are a nod back to the hard-rocking ‘Black Cat’, ‘If’ then launches into a dance beat worthy of Janet’s brother (what was his name again?) and the fun really begins. That chorus is so infectious, at the same time bitchy and vulnerable, defiant and desperate. “If I was your girl, the things I’d do to you… but I’m not so I can’t.” Although janet. was super-sexual that didn’t mean it wasn’t a feminist album, and did the rare thing of being feminist and feminine at the same time without compromising either of those pursuits. ‘If’ was, at the same time, a big pleading love song that put her totally at the whim of the man, and a big fuck-off anthem that said “I’m here, I’m Janet freaking Jackson, but if you’re not gonna notice me then get bent”. Phrased a little differently, of course."

Legacy and influenceEdit

"If" continues to receive acclaim for its innovation and sonic experimentation with multiple genres. The song is also considered both iconic and shocking for its explicit theme, which was a surprising development previously unheard in Jackson's music and was considered to be a very controversial and restricted topic for female artists to discuss at the time.

Discussing the shocking transition with "If", Jackson told Us Weekly "I know it would shock people, but I'm not doing it for shock value," she says, shrugging. "And I know there are some people that are going to say, 'No, I will not be able to accept this because this is a little girl that we saw when she was seven years old.'" Then she breaks into a girlish giggle. "I feel that I'm a late bloomer, really. Everybody says, 'Oh, my God, you've changed so much. Is this really you?'" She giggles again, but this time it sounds triumphant. "Of course it's me". In Rolling Stone, she revealed "For the first time, I'm feeling free. I love feeling deeply sexual – and don't mind letting the world know. For me, sex has become a celebration, a joyful part of the creative process." Additionally, the magazine added "Forget about that seven-year-old girl who used to do Mae West impersonations in her family's Las Vegas act, never mind the pubescent star of Good Times and Diff'rent Strokes, and ignore the demure young woman whose musical message to a would-be lover used to be "Let's Wait Awhile." Ladies and gentlemen, cover your crotches: Janet Jackson has grown up."

In a review of the twentieth anniversary of the song and the Janet. album's release, Billboard exclaimed "If" to be a "climax", "which is perhaps more inseparable from its iconic music video than any of "janet."'s other singles based on its head-slapping choreography." Pop! Blerd also applauded the song's longevity and timeless feel, saying the "sweaty, sexy dance workout" "still holds up" twenty years after its premiere, with The First Echo calling "If" an iconic hit that "helped musically define the 90s." Reminiscing on the song's impact and success, another critic wrote "If" "represents something completely different that probably could not be done now from a female or black artist", also saying the song uses "quite a bit of guitar for instrumentation" which would classify it in the pop, rock and R&B categories, further raving the song is "really hard for a pop princess." Comparing "If" the popular mainstream styles by female pop artists today, they went on to ask "could a female artist do this today and get nationwide acclaim? No", adding that from a musical standpoint, there is more pressure for artists to conform to means of media that are considered the standard for popular music

Referring to the song's impact on Jackson's career and pop culture, it was noted "The sexual content of the song, and the album in general, was at the forefront of discussion among critics when the album was first released. Until that time, Jackson had a relatively squeaky clean image, never showing much skin (except for her video for "Love Will Never Do (Without You)", which bared her midriff) and rarely sang about sexual desires until this release which was dubbed as her "Sexual Awakening". Although the topic on everyone's lips were lyrics like "Your smooth and shiny feels so good against my lips, sugar", critics were also impressed by Jackson's fusion of rock and trip hop funk music as well as her vocal performance which starts with a low vocal chant at the beginning of the verses and then swings up into a strong melodic pre-chorus. Also to be noted is the orchestral flourish sampling which opens the instrumental bridge, and explosive dance break scene in the video, which is arguably one of Janet's most acclaimed and heralded dance performances ever."

In Slant Magazine's list of the "Best Singles of the '90s" published in 2011, "If" ranked at #22, reading "If janet. found Miss Jackson asserting her right to have an orgasm the likes of which would dwarf your puny muscular spasms, the ruthless dance rock of "If" is the proof. Aided immeasurably by a Supremes sample filtered enough to suggest a cybernetic logjam, "If" ain't no question mark. It prowls, marking its prey, staking its claim, going down-duh-down-down-down-duh-down-down on you while playing with your mind. More metallic than carnal, "If" really peaks when it reaches the sweet harmonies of the bridge before plunging headlong into the crunching paradox of the chorus. If she was your girl, she might treat you better than she claims. But you wouldn't sweat half as much." The Urban Daily gave an additional account of the song's significance in Jackson's career and image transition, saying "Janet Jackson has what every brand new pop tart longs for–legitimate sex appeal. When she first came onto the music scene in 1982, she was a sweet fresh faced girl singing little ditties about young love. Fast forward ten years and Janet became the sex kitten every man dreamed she would be. Janet’s Queen Sex Kitten status was bestowed thanks to some of her racy song lyrics. She started teasing dudes on 1986's “Funny How Time Flies (When You're Having Fun).” Though this line is fairly tame compared to other lyrics, it gets a spot on the countdown because it purposely leaves something to the imagination. What body part is she referring to when she sings about a man’s “smooth and shiny”? Could Janet be talking about the lips, chest, or a man’s procreation stick? For freakiness’ sake, I’d like to go with the last option over everything."

Rakesh Satwell of New York Magazine praised "If" for remaining "fresh" and a departure from radio trends, also noting the song's futuristic qualities still being intact twenty years after its release, saying "That's the Way Love Goes" slinked its way easily onto summer mix tapes, but the follow-up, “If,” released on July 13 of that year, was like a punch to the eardrum. After twenty years, the song still sounds as fresh as it did then; it may even come across as being fresher. Imagine, in our David Guetta glut, how overwhelming it would be to hear “If” as a new single today — a trip-hop fever dream of distorted guitars, trance-like backing vocals, and Janet’s erotic mumbles." Satwell also praised the song for being progressive while many other hits recreate past trends to their advantage, exclaiming "Many contenders for best pop song of the past twenty years make glorious musical silk of the past — Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” comes most readily to my mind, but it applies to (Robin Thicke's) "Blurred Lines" as well — but it is an altogether more impressive feat to make a song that sounds as if it’s from the future." The sample placed twice throughout the song was also noted for fusing seamlessly into the song, amplifying the intensity and overall feel of the instrumental and vocals. "The breakdown is also one of the two parts of the song that features a sample of Diana Ross’s “Someday We'll Be Together.” The '90s, of course, facilitated the ubiquity of samples in pop music, but one of the genius aspects of “If” is its isolation of the motif — a seemingly innocuous but extremely effective garnish. Furthermore, the sample is synched up emotionally as well as musically: “Someday We’ll Be Together” is, after all, the same conditional sentiment implied by the song’s title. But whereas Ross’s song is light and cheery, the verses of Janet’s song practically seethe with intensity. Listen beyond Janet’s own voice to the multiple drones behind her: This is a truly focused pursuit, as if Janet and her cohorts know exactly which day “someday” will be."

Additionally, Satwell considered "If" to be one of Janet's defining moments as an artist, continuing to express the song's "sinister" and sensual feel as being superior to Rihanna and Ke$ha's future sex-driven hits, also mentioning "If" as the inspiration for later releases such as LCD Soundsystem's "One Touch", Rihanna's "Rockstar 101", and Aaliyah's "What If?". "There are few more perfect pairings of performer and production than this song. Although hits like “Pleasure Principle,” “Rhythm Nation,” and “All for You” define Janet Jackson more as an artist, this song remains for me not just her pinnacle but also the pinnacle of her longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. They work against the normal attributes of her voice, which is usually a soft coo (cf. “Again,” another single off this diverse album). This is why the song works so well. There is something sinister about a pop star straddling octaves against a sea of percussive churns and waves. For all of its metallic glossiness, a voice like Rihanna’s would do this song a disservice. Even though Rihanna is today’s reigning queen of the pop come-on, “If” manages to be ten times more effective than “S&M.” In a similar vein, if Ke$ha represents the fusion of the flip and the forward, then “If” is the sexual nugget that her music aims to send up. And regardless of contemporary starlet, you'd be hard-pressed to find a song with a more audacious yet expertly-worded line than “your smooth-and-shiny feels so good against my lips, Sugar.” Yowza." "Many a rock-infused power ditty has come in “If”’s wake, but they all pale in its shade. To name but a few of the many: En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind,” Aaliyah’s “What If?,” Rihanna’s “Rockstar 101” – even janet.’s own “This Time,” which featured the iconoclastic opera singer Kathleen Battle on backing vocals. And I constantly hear strains of its DNA in other songs; as soon as I heard it in LCD Soundsystem’s “One Touch,” I could hardly hear anything else."

Concluding the song's review, Satwell commented on Jackson's airplay and video blacklist, which took place after her iconic Super Bowl performance and affected her overall prominence, but continued to remark the song's "groundbreaking" and "mesmerizing" statement as being an "anthem" that few others have been able to replicate or attempt in a similar fashion. "Of course, Janet Jackson’s sexual dominance would take a hard stumble after her infamous Super Bowl performance with Justin Timberlake in 2004. But “If” is why that imbroglio stung. More than ten years prior to that fateful halftime show, Janet had made a definitive sexual statement in a more groundbreaking, indelible, and mesmerizing way. Anthems have come and gone since that time, but few people have ever had more rhythm and control than Janet Jackson did in the summer of 1993."

Entertainment website ZOMGTalk raved about the song's unique appeal and intimate tone, declaring it "a BIG-ASS song that made a mark and blazed a trail", adding "But it was the second single ‘If’ that remains the most eclectic song of her entire discography, while the stunning video for the song featuring some of the most iconic choreography in history is arguably one of her best works to date. Produced by Janet Jackson and her trusty team of collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, ‘If’ was a song about hypothetical sexual fantasies, with an undertone of sadness (‘If I was your girl, oh the things I’d do to you’). Explicit, erotic and defiant, the seductive lyrics were enough to make anybody and their mama blush! With wailing guitar chords, insanely catchy Hip-Hop beats, and some of Janet’s best vocals till date, ‘If’ packs a punch like no other song of Janet’s entire career."

Alicia Jackson of The Redefined considered "If" to be 'life-changing' and credits the song as being a gateway to the discovery of their genuine identity, revealing "“If” singlehandedly changed the course of my life. The soft, sing-song nature of Jackson’s voice coupled with the pure raunchiness of the lyrics blew the entirety of my pre-adult mind. Up until this time, I saw Janet as an adult me…sweet, innocent, and somewhat misunderstood. I related to her because in my mind I saw the sexiness of her image, yet I assumed she was having the same persona issues I was of being perceived as ONLY one thing and not incorporating ALL that was there. Not at all the case (don’t ask why I assumed she was…I guess it was because I related completely to her music…hindsight…). Then “If” dropped and my whole perception was clarified. After repeatedly watching the video and listening to the lyrics, I realized that being silent was not the same as not speaking and that I wasn’t hiding my personality, I just wasn’t the flamboyant type that was the norm back then. Looking back, I can honestly say that Janet. and The Velvet Rope were the gateways to who I am today."

It should also be noted that "If" was the first pop hit to use the harpsichord, which had not been previously used in the genre and can be heard throughout the song's instrumental opening and the second verse. This helped set the trend for the instrument to gain prominence and be the basis of many pop and urban hits and releases of the late nineties and early millennium, including TLC's "No Scrubs", Jennifer Lopez's "If You Had My Love", Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills" and "Say My Name", Britney Spears' "Don't Go Knockin' on My Door", Pink's debut single "There You Go" and "Most Girls", Eve and Faith Evans' "Love is Blind", Bjork's "All is Full of Love", and the Spice Girls' "Holler" and "Let Love Lead the Way", among others. The instrument was also used in "This Time", another song from the "janet." album, and was also heard in later releases such as Ne-Yo's "Because of You" and Kylie Minogue's "All I See".

The song also received various awards, including a BMI Pop Award for "Most Played Song" and an inclusion in Slant Magazine's "100 Best Singles of the '90s", among other accolades.

Chart performanceEdit

"If" was released as the album's second single and debuted at number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100. Seven weeks later, it reached its peak position of number four and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on September 28, 1993. "If" also reached #3 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and topped the Hot Dance Club Play chart. It placed at 19 on the year-end chart for 1993. In Canada, the song debuted at number 92 on the RPM issue dated July 24, 1993 and reached the third position on October 2, 1993. It spent a total of nineteen weeks on the chart and was placed at 25 on the RPM's year-end chart for 1993.

In the United Kingdom, "If" debuted on UK Singles Chart at number 23 and peaked at number fourteen the following week. It spent a total of seven weeks on the chart. The song performed moderately in Europe and Oceania. In the Netherlands and New Zealand, the song peaked at number eight and ten, respectively, also peaking in the Top 20 in Australia and Top 10 in Sweden.

"If" randomly debuted on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Digital Songs chart at #45 during the week of April 2, 2011.

Music videoEdit

OverviewEdit

"If" takes place in an Asian nightclub which appears to be a brothel, with futuristic touch-screen technology and spy cameras used to monitor the intimate interactions of patrons within their private boudoirs being displayed. In the iconic video clip, Jackson is portrayed as the main object of desire in the nightclub, with patrons observing her through web cameras after saying the correct password to enter the hidden function. The video is an elaborate metaphor for the single's message of sexual fantasy, desire and voyeurism. Its choreography and main dance sequence is infamous for its complexity, as well as Jackson's revealing outfit and sexier appearance. The video's sexual theme was a stark contrast from Jackson's previous work, which was previously unexplored in her videos and was still considered to be controversial for females in pop culture to portray at the time of its release.

"If" was directed by Dominic Sena, who previously worked with Jackson on music videos for her previous album Rhythm Nation 1814. It was choreographed by Tina Landon and Jackson, with additional choreography by Omar Lopez and Keith Williams for the instrumental breakdown. An alternate version of the video known as the "All Dance Version" omits many of the various club patron scenes and focuses solely on Jackson's dance performance. This version was also shown on many music channels due to the original video's suggestive content being considered very risqué and explicit at the time.

The video appears on Jackson's video compilation From Janet. to Damita Jo: The Videos. The extended alternate version of "If" known as the "All Dance Version", which focuses on Jackson's dance performance, was exclusively released on the Janet. video release, but could later be found on YouTube and on the DVD included with the Special Edition re-release of All for You.

Behind the scenes footage of the dance rehearsals and making of the "If" video were included on the Janet. video release, which was directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and executive produced by Jackson. Jackson and her backing dancers were also shown discussing the video with Bill Bellamy while on the set during an MTV segment titled "MTV Jams Special Edition with Janet Jackson", which lead to the video's world premiere. When asked to describe the hypothetical feel of the "If" video during a behind the scenes segment shown on MTV, Jackson stated "You're in China, in a club in the future - but not space or anything like that. You're in a club of Asian people, it's very hot, and you're the only foreigners here. There are monitors everywhere in the club, and it's kind of like teleconferencing where you'll have us dancing on stage and people may be watching us on a certain monitor, and if you're looking at that monitor at the same time someone's watching us, we can actually communicate. So it goes like that throughout the video with different people, you can actually look at the monitor and catch two people kind of getting into it, and they can look into the same monitor noticing that you're watching and kind of continuing to get even hotter."

SynopsisEdit

If video

Screen cap from the video.

The video opens with a moonlit scene of an woman wearing a Kimono walking towards a building in an Asian village late at night, while horns and chimes are heard in the background. A man accompanied by another woman is seen yelling obscenities at a large red door, demanding to be let into the building to no avail. The man tries to bribe his way inside but quickly follows the woman who appears frustrated and angrily flees the scene. The woman in the Kimono walks to the front door, looks into a hidden camera and says the correct password ("If") while a man operating the door from the inside, garnished with long, sharp fingernails and white body paint with black facial accents, types an access code and blissfully grants her access to the festivities.

The inside of the bordello is then shown as a green light turns on, signaling the club's workers to lower the male dancers from the ceiling, who descend upside down on ropes in a winding fashion simulating a corkscrew. The woman is then shown entering the club and pays the man operating the door a form of currency, who graciously accepts it. A wider view of the club is then revealed, with club patron watching the stage as female dancers perform and bright strobe lights are emitted from the middle of the platform. Various scenes of the people attending the club are shown through monitors similar to web cameras, which were unavailable at the time. Multiple screens are shown at once, and a man watching some of the other patron on the monitor uses the futuristic touch-screen to select the view of the performance on the main stage.

The doors in the middle of the platform rapidly open as Jackson descends the stairs and enters the main stage, surrounded by blowing red fabric and a radiant white light. The club patron begin to focus on the stage as the video's dance routine begins, specifically the man watching through one of the monitors. Close up shots of Jackson are then shown, with her outfit of a black and white top, black pants and choker then revealed. She focuses solely on the man in the audience watching her through the monitor as she continues performing the song, as various club workers are shown serving guests, dancing and observing the routine. A man in the audience uses a cane to select another view of the performance as a woman seated with other guests is seen sensually watching a man on one of the monitors. The man extends his hand and simulates kissing her through the screen, as three women in high fashion outfits are shown walking through the club and observing the men in attendance. jackson continues to perform the main dance routine as beams of light persistently emit through the middle of the stage and a red ambiance surrounds her and her dancers. The man in the audience is again shown watching Jackson through the monitor, admiring her performance as Jackson moves closer to the front of the platform and performs sexually suggestive choreography. Jackson dances with a male dancer as the three women are shown selecting various views of the club through one of the monitors with their feet. Another woman is then shown throwing a man down on a bed in a secluded room, quickly closing the door.

As Jackson continues entertaining the crowd, the woman who was originally shown entering the bordello is again seen walking through the event, quickly paying one of the guards to allow her into the private sector of the club. Jackson continues the routine as additional scenes on a monitor are briefly seen. This leads into the video's iconic choreographed breakdown, which became one of the most infamous dance breakdowns and music video scenes in pop culture. Jackson performs the complex routine as angles switch multiple times to show the platform from various parts of the stage. Scenes of a woman undressing are briefly shown on a monitor during the breakdown as a man caresses the screen. Jackson continues the intricate dance as she smiles into the monitor, while a woman is shown touching the image of a man's faces on another screen. Another woman is then shown on a webcam, becoming aroused as she observes a couple engaging in sexual activity. The video's ending dance sequence then begins, with Jackson grabbing a male dancer's crotch region, simulating oral sex, before placing him on the floor and bending him over. Jackson continues to seductively watch the man in the audience as she performs, kneeling before the male dancer and then lowering him to floor. The video ends with the man in the audience passionately touching an image of Jackson's face on the monitor, as the woman who was shown entering the club is then seen exiting the bordello and walking towards the village.

Critical receptoinEdit

A review of the original video, which noted it to have a Blasian theme, remarked "the Blasian version is richer in depth, and actually makes a lot more sense when you consider Jackson's body language, the atmosphere and her smoldering off-stage eye contact. With the Blasian version, you actually get to see who she has the hots for ('cause it certainly ain't the guy she's dancing with), and let's just say that when you see him, the words in the song suddenly make a lot more sense." The male lead in the video is played by Michael Gong, although it's often mistaken to be Theo Mizuhara.

Described by Jackson as "a female fantasy", David Ritz of Rolling Stone commented on the video as it was being filmed, exclaiming "There are tantalizing bodies inches from my eyes. There is choreographed mock-cunnilingus. There is the phenomenon of Janet, off camera, watching herself being watched in this video of watchers, while another film crew makes a video on the making of the video. Reality is scrambled. Voyeurism is rampant. The music is pumping, the message obvious as an orgasm. I'm stimulated." Us Weekly also described the filming of "If", saying "Janet Jackson is making a video here in a huge Hollywood sound stage, standing in the middle of a dance floor surrounded by what looks like an elaborate, multilevel Chinese restaurant, complete with balconies, stairways and wide-screen monitors. She's flanked by several other women, all clad in black and lace, and the same number of black-clad men. She's doing one of those gang unison dances that she often does in her videos, while a thunderous track blasts over the sound system. She's being sexy, wiggling her hips and running her arms down her sides. But - in a striking departure from the MO of her big brother Michael - she is not grabbing her crotch. In fact, Janet Jackson is grabbing somebody else's crotch. His name is Omar Lopez. A lithe young man with a shaved head, clad in tight jeans and a leather vest, he's Janet's partner in this song. Which, in the video to "If" - an overheated sexual fantasy as explicit as anything to come from this family since La Toya's famous Playboy layout - means he's getting grabbed, pawed and shoved around. Lopez stands in front of Jackson, his back to her, and she drops down, reaches through his legs and grabs his crotch. Then she swings him around, seizes his head and pulls it down to her own crotch. on the track, she's singing: "I'll hold you in my hand and, baby, your smooth and shiny feels good against my lips, sugar...". Forget about that seven-year-old girl who used to do Mae West impersonations in her family's Las Vegas act, never mind the pubescent star of Good Times and Diff'rent Strokes, and ignore the demure young woman whose musical message to a would-be lover used to be "Let's Wait Awhile." Ladies and gentlemen, cover your crotches: Janet Jackson has grown up."

Another publication described observed the "If" video "portrayed sexual fantasy, lust and voyeurism" with "an abundance of skin and youthful sexuality." Jet Magazine concluded the video to be "about sexual fantasy", which she uses "to showcase her pelvic thrusts and flashy dance moves. This was a liberated Janet, who flirted with eroticism but steered clear of moves that would be considered pornographic." Giving additional commentary on the video, Jackson revealed "It's nothing nasty or dirty, but it's very sexy". "During taping I Kept saying, 'Oh, my god, I'm glad my mother is not here.'" While filming the video, Janet invited her mother Katherine Jackson to the set, revealing "I said, ‘Some of my movements are very sexy. They're not dirty, they're very sexy. And just by you being my mother, I'd be embarrassed.’ She responded, ‘Well, if I make you shy in any way or pull back, then I shouldn't be there.’ I said, ‘No, you can come down if you like.’" Yet, perhaps unsurprisingly, "She wound up not coming."

Arena Magazine described the video's release as a "dramatic" transformation, remarking "Social issues were followed by romantic fantasy, the topic of 1993's janet., her biggest seller to date". "One video sexier than the next, the black uniform ripped off to reveal a slimmed-down, body-conscious Janet. The transformation was dramatic." Janet admitted "It wouldn't be honest to say that I suddenly discovered sex," she says, "but I was certainly enjoying it more. I felt freer and happier and willing to explore those feelings. And I wanted to sing about it, I wanted to put my experiences into my music and be honest. I also found a discipline I didn't have earlier. I was focused, I could diet and exercise and work harder than ever before. I'm never completely comfortable being photographed or filmed, but, after all my hard work, I felt more confident about my appearance. I was losing my shyness."

Awards and accoladesEdit

The video received multiple accolades, including two MTV Video Music Awards for "Best Female Video" and "Best Dance Video", Billboard Award for "Dance Clip of the Year", Playboy Magazine Entertainment Award for "Music Video of the Year", and a Soul Train Music Award for "Video of the Year". In 2013, Idolator voted "If" as the second "Best Female VMA Winning Video of the '90s".

Video legacyEdit

The "If" video is considered iconic for being innovative and leading many trends with its portrayal of then-unavailable technology, cutting-edge and complex choreography, transition of Jackson's image to an edgier style, modern club setting, and midriff-baring and cultural fashion and influence.

Commenting on the video's impact, Jackson said "I have seen different elements from all of these videos in lots of artists work and it’s a great feeling to know that you have inspired them in such a way."

  • "If" won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video. In 2013, Idolator voted "If" as the second Best Female VMA Winning Video of the '90s.
  • During an appearance on MTV's TRL, Jackson revealed she was still "crazy about "If" and declared it to be her favorite video of her career. In 2013, Janet again commented on the video, saying "I love "That’s The Way Love Goes," "You Want This" and especially "If."
  • Britney Spears said she was influenced by the "If" video for her own career and videos such as "I'm a Slave 4 U" during an interview with Rolling Stone, saying "And Janet's video for "If." I saw that, and I admired it and wanted to be like her", also calling Janet a "powerful role model" with "her own identity".
  • Neon Hitch included "If" in a list of her "favorite sexy music videos", saying "You know you have tried to do that dance sequence in your mirror over and over again." Artist and entrepreneur Vashtie Kola commented on video, saying "for my birthday, i need to see someone do this entire choreography! choker is optional."
  • A then-unknown Jennifer Lopez attended rehearsals for the "If" video and was originally supposed to appear in the clip as a backing dancer before pulling out when receiving an acting role on the series "Second Chances". Lopez notoriously made her video debut in Jackson's previous video "That's the Way Love Goes".
  • The "If" video was the first music video which dancer and choreographer Jamie King appeared in. King later went on to choreograph and direct various tours including Britney Spears' The Circus Starring Britney Spears, Rihanna's Last Girl on Earth Tour, and various tours for Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Jennifer Lopez.
  • Traces of the "If" choreography has been imitated in many other artist's music videos, including "multiple videos by Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Ciara, Pink, Mya, Missy Elliott, Lady Gaga, N' Sync, Beyoncé", including Lil' Kim's "No Matter What They Say", Christina Milian's "Dip It Low" and Paula Abdul's "My Love Is For Real". Also noting Jackson's overall influence on pop culture, the video was exclaimed to be an "iconic legendary brilliance", adding "Women want to be her. The gays want to be like her. Men want to do morally questionable things to her." The current crop of artists, "including Gaga, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Britney etc ALL follow her trail-blazing footsteps."
  • Janet's videography, and the "If" video in particular, helped to establish Tina Landon's career as an legendary choreographer, with nearly every subsequent female pop artist, including Britney Spears, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Pink, Shakira, and Christina Aguilera, requesting to work with her for their own music videos and projects.
  • The Asian theme in the "If" video, referred to as a "prominent mainstream piece of Japanica", was later attempted by Gwen Stefani and her former backing dancers known as the "Harajuku Girls" during the promotion and video releases from her Love.Angel.Music.Baby album. 'Vulture.com observed "Gwen Stefani would return to this well ten years later with her Harajuku Girls, but her approach would be tongue-in-cheek where Janet’s was cheeky."
  • The shoulder blade choreography in the music video breakdown was referenced in the film White Chicks during the club scene.

Image transitionEdit

Beginning with the "Control" album (in which Janet took authority of her career by abandoning her former bubblegum pop sound and returning with a new style), the sexier image she first portrayed in the "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" video, and the Janet. album era; "If" and its accompanying music video further helped to solidify and establish Janet's iconic transition from teenager to adult star, which many subsequent pop stars would later attempt. The New York Times exclaimed "Ms. Jackson more or less invented the teen-pop makeover, blazing the trail that Usher and Ms. [Britney] Spears and all the rest would later follow."

The "If" video was extremely controversial for its sensual theme and served as a vessel for Jackson to showcase her unexpected development to a sexier image, with one critic noting "The sexual content of the song, and the album in general, was at the forefront of discussion among critics when the album was first released. Until that time, Janet had a relatively squeaky clean image, never showing much skin (except for her video for "Love Will Never Do (Without You)", which bared her midriff) and rarely sang about sexual desires until this release which was dubbed as her "Sexual Awakening"." GuideToGay commented on Janet's edgier style with the "If" video, saying "The music videos also allowed Janet to explore a more seductive style of movement; that she first flirted with on the ‘Love Will Never Do’ video." Homorazzi also described Jackson's transformation with the video, recalling "She dabbled with a sexier image with the last single, “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” off her previous album, but janet saw Jackson fully embracing her womanhood and sexuality. Gone was her bulky “Rhythm Nation” uniform. In its place were midriff baring tops and chokers. And in some instances, nothing at all."

The video's portrayal of Jackson's newly toned body was also, for many, the first time abs were seen being flaunted by a woman, which had not yet become prominently displayed in popular culture and the media at the time and was still considered to be something mainly presented by males. Recalling the video's release, Hiko Mitsuzuka of pop culture blog The First Echo said "The music video was a piece of pop culture that left its imprint on my impressionable 13-year-old mind. It was perhaps the first time I saw abs on a female singer. Who knew women could flaunt them just as much as the guys? Six-pack stomachs didn't just belong to Marky Mark and any given hunk on Melrose Place anymore. Janet oozed sex, and most of it came out in this provocative visual treatment. "If I was your girl, ooh the things I'd do to you..." Grammatically incorrect lyrics aside, the song was packed with suggestive and hypothetical situations that was made manifest when our pop diva thrust her hips into the face of a shaved-headed dancer in the video. I remember my inexperienced 13-year-old self asking, "Is this even allowed on VH1?" Jackson became known as the first pop star to obtain and openly display her abs, setting another trend many other pop stars would follow. Us Weekly also considered the video to be unexpected and a complete change for Janet, saying "Forget about that seven-year-old girl who used to do Mae West impersonations in her family's Las Vegas act, never mind the pubescent star of Good Times and Diff'rent Strokes, and ignore the demure young woman whose musical message to a would-be lover used to be "Let's Wait Awhile." Ladies and gentlemen, cover your crotches: Janet Jackson has grown up."

TechnologyEdit

The video is also infamous and considered to be innovative and ahead of its time for portraying high definition touch-screen technology and web cams - which were not yet invented or available when the video was released - but frequently became used with mobile phones and tablets in the future. Speaking about the video, Janet remarked "I don’t think people really realize what we were showing in that video that wasn’t available with technology then. The video featured futuristic technology, specifically high definition touch screens. I wanted the actors in the video to use these screens to communicate, and relate with each other in the clubs. Similar to what we all do with our smart phones and tablets today. As I look at our lives now, it seems that life is imitating art. I have seen different elements from all of these videos in lots of artists work and it’s a great feeling to know that you have inspired them in such a way."

Entertainment news feed The First Echo also acknowledged the video for being "ahead of its time", recounting "The video, directed by Dominic Sena, holds up surprisingly well compared to the rest of the stuff that had come out at the time. Futuristic Asian nightclubs? Voyeuristic back rooms? Someone was ahead of her time."

ChoreographyEdit

The choreographed routine performed in the "If" video, specifically the dance breakdown during the song's instrumental bridge, received frequent praise for being complex and inventive, with the routine often imitated and referred to as both "iconic" and "ground-breaking". Other scenes, such as the male dancers being lowered from the ceiling on hooks while upside down, are also notable and have been influential in pop culture. Although infamous for her innovative and prodigious dance routines, the choreography in the "If" video remains one of the most acclaimed and heralded dance performances of all time.

In a review of the twentieth anniversary of the song and the Janet. album's release, Billboard exclaimed "If" to be a "climax" which is "perhaps more inseparable from its iconic music video than any of "janet."'s other singles based on its head-slapping choreography." Vulture.com noted the video's choreography as being popular and attempted regularly in pop culture, saying "After the single's release, no party that year was complete without an impromptu re-creation of the video’s famous voguing-meets-capoeira breakdown, choreographed by the legendary Tina Landon. It’s hard to name other dance sequences that occupy such an ample part of my memory — apart from those attributed to Janet’s King of Pop brother, of course. That dance breakdown felt like it was building a temple to Janet, shoulder blade by shoulder blade." The First Echo also recalled a similar sentiment, stating "The tightness of each move, especially during the intensive bridge that sampled Diana Ross and the Supremes' 1969 hit "Someday We'll Be Together," was something that every child of the 90s tried to mimic in his or her living room. They just don't dance in music videos like they used to, amiright?"

Pop singer Neon Hitch also commented on the video, saying "You know you have tried to do that dance sequence in your mirror over and over again." The Houston Press titled the routine as "kung-fu dance moves", calling the video "a dance extravaganza", exclaiming "the intricate "Look but don't touch!" choreography was the perfect fit for the story behind the song." Slant Magazine exclaimed the video "seems to exist for the sole purpose of providing the impetus behind one of the greatest dance-break routines in music video history." Furthermore, another review considered the video's climax to be the "explosive dance break scene," heralding the routine as "arguably one of Janet's most acclaimed and heralded dance performances ever", while another pop culture outlet called it "the choreography heard 'round the world", adding "The video is stylish and naughty and simply a classic in every way", classifying the dance breakdown as "ground breaking".

Entertainment website ZOMGTalk also praised the routine, saying "the stunning video for the song featuring some of the most iconic choreography in history is arguably one of her best works to date", also proclaiming "In the midst of all the action of the patrons in their private boudoirs, Janet Jackson and her team of back-up dancers execute some of the most manically mind-blowing moves in the history of EVER. From the male back-up dancers being suspended upside-down and lowered from the ceiling during the intro, to Janet’s stunning entry through doors which blast open with red fabric flowing everywhere, to the crotch grabbing and grinding moves to the iconic break-down, Janet pushed the envelope far with this one, and yet kept it classy, unlike her biggest rival Madonna, who’s prime intention at that point of time was to show off her nude body parts as well as her sexual prowess and skills to anybody who was willing and unwilling to see. It’s stunning imagery, ground-breaking choreography and Janet’s fierce attitude is what made this a masterpiece."

The review went on to observe traces of the choreography displayed in the "If" video frequently replicated in other videos, adding "Even today, traces of Janet’s choreography as well as the video are seen in the works of some of the biggest names in music of the past and present decade, from Paula Abdul (especially ‘My Love Is For Real’), Lil’ Kim (‘No Matter What They Say’), Christina Milian (‘Dip It Low’) to multiple videos by Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Ciara, Pink, Mya, Missy Elliott, Lady Gaga, N' Sync, Beyoncé etc. The list goes on." An additional account called it "one of Janet's sexiest videos ever", also praising it for having the "Best choreography EVER. Energy, energy, energy! Super sexy and pushing those boundaries", exclaiming "The 90's belonged to Janet and no-one else!"

In popular culture the routine has been referenced many times, including in the film "White Chicks" and the workout video release "Crunch: Cardio Groove". The video's dance routine also took the career of choreographer Tina Landon to new heights. Previously known solely for her work with Janet, the routine and other routines with Jackson made her choreography in-demand for popstars such as Britney Spears, Rihanna, Pink, Shakira, and Jennifer Lopez. Giving an account of the video's effect on Landon, GuideToGay exclaimed "Janet worked closely with choreographer Tina Landon to develop a style that was provocative, but wouldn’t make the self-confessed “tomboy” look awkward. Such was their success that every subsequent female artist has demanded to work with Landon (Britney, Christina, J-Lo, Shakira, Pink, Rihanna…)."

SettingEdit

The video's setting, which takes place in a futuristic Asian nightclub, was one of the first pop videos which took place in a modern club environment, leading the trend for many future pop and urban music videos that had similar settings.

FashionEdit

In addition to Jackson's trademark midriff-baring style, the outfits and jewelry worn in the video, which were influenced by Native American and Bohemian culture, were also considered influential and trend-setting in fashion, as well as the various body tattoos seen on club patrons. Janet's outfit was described as "a fancy yet funky choker, midriff-baring, boob-defining sleeveless vest and tight black pants" with "a mass of wavy light brown hair with blonde highlights", also adding the form-fitting outfit allowed her to "cup her breasts or shield her naughty bits as needed."

In a memoir of the "If" video, one critic recalls "the bohemian style she used in the videos were inspiring. I remember buying Native American chokers, flannels and baggy jeans because of the videos and images of Jackson in magazines", while another praised her ability to effortlessly balance a more masculine-orientated fashion with the feminine, revealing outfits shown in the video, saying "Janet was the queen of tomboy looks and a full fledged sex symbol at the same time. She merged the two opposites seamlessly, from baggy jeans and floppy hats to skintight Navajo bra tops in the "If" video."

RetrospectEdit

Several accounts of "If" commented on the various themes and imagery depicted in the video, praising it for being both influential and inventive.

New York Times entertainment website Vulture.com exclaimed "This is one of those songs that conjures up its corresponding music video immediately. It’s hard to hear the opening strains without seeing a cappuccino-curled Janet as she emerges from a windblown poof of red curtains (ahem). Along with the movie thriller Rising Sun, based on Michael Crichton’s novel and also released in July 1993, the video of “If” was the most prominent mainstream piece of Japanica that I can recall during that time — a rich depiction of a Tokyo-style video bar in which lithe young things communicated in the newly coined “virtual reality.” (Gwen Stefani would return to this well ten years later with her Harajuku Girls, but her approach would be tongue-in-cheek where Janet’s was cheeky.)"

Entertainment blog 28Sherman praised the video to be "a hurricane of just the right touch of things", raving abut Janet's appearance and choreography, additionally explaining what a video of its quality represents and interpreting how its blatant sexuality still manages to blur the lines between innocent and vixen in a way that is rarely displayed by future artists. In the blog, Sherman writes "For my money, no female pop singer can do a music video and look as sexy or as great as janet Jackson did in the video for "If". I still haven't learned how to embed videos, sorry guys. If you were a teenage boy in 1993, or a grown man with a pulse, you know the video I am talking about. This video would stop my friends and I in our tracks.", speaking of "pre-workout freak Janet, pre-wardrobe malfunction Janet. I am talking about the Janet in 1993 that did that awesome Rolling Stone shoot where she looked like the bomb, and then cemented her sexiness with the "If" video. It was a hurricane of just the right touch of things." "In the video, her body is bombing, her smile is just about perfect (probably veneers), her skin looks great, she has some curly hair thing going on that had some highlight dye thing to it, and she had started to get work done to her face but not too much. That's just what a 13 year old needed to see on screen as she sang "your smooth and shiny feels so good against my lips sugar".

"To get all serious, this album and video represents something completely different that probably could not be done now from a female and black artist." "As far as the video, nowadays, would they even waste time making a video? The video itself is sexy without Janet showing more skin than the average American mom now shows at a Little League baseball game. Consider any of Beyonce's videos. I do not need to see her naked because if I piece together every outfit from her videos, I have seen it all. Janet does an actual dance routine in this video instead of just shaking her T&A. Some of the moves I can still do because they struck me as so fluid and cool back in '93 and I mimicked them. I also spent time watching the making of the video special and the special on her world tour. Dare I say that she moves in a sensual manner implying her naughty abilities rather than just doing that butt shake/drop thing that seems to be in every rap or hip hop video. Remember that George Bernard Shaw said that dancing is a vertical representation of a horizontal desire. Something about the Janet video just seems much more adult than the crap that is out there now. For some odd reason, it feels like many of the young, female music and movie stars of today are trapped in this region of quasi-adulthood where they have to look like a trashy adult temptress yet still retain some little girl innocence about them. I understand the need to make people feel rotten about getting old, but something seems very odd with how so many of them don't seem fully adult. It is like they are trapped in some fairy land. I don't think a single starlet in the music industry could challenge the "If" video. No one."

Shourya of entertainment website ZOMGTalk also recounted the video's impact and influence with its choreography, styling, and feminine sexuality, which pushed boundaries and set various trends in popular culture, saying "While the song itself was amazing, it was the video that catapulted ‘If’ to staggering new heights. The Dominic Sena produced video pushed the envelope by dealing with voyeurism, while Tina Landon’s ground-breaking choreography created one of the greatest dance-break routines in music video history. "Everything about that video was iconic, legendary, amazing..I could just go on and on. The video is based on a futuristic Asian nightclub, with spy cameras hidden everywhere, and patrons are ushered inside after they utter the secret password, which is ‘If‘. Once inside, it’s an all out erotic yet classy raunch-fest! Indications of threesomes, voyeurs, e-chats and hook-ups, it’s ALL there! And remember this was 1993 people! In the midst of all the action of the patrons in their private boudoirs, Janet Jackson and her team of back-up dancers execute some of the most manically mind-blowing moves in the history of EVER. From the male back-up dancers being suspended upside-down and lowered from the ceiling during the intro, to Janet’s stunning entry through doors which blast open with red fabric flowing everywhere, to the crotch grabbing and grinding moves to the iconic break-down, Janet pushed the envelope far with this one, and yet kept it classy, unlike her biggest rival Madonna, who’s prime intention at that point of time was to show off her nude body parts as well as her sexual prowess and skills to anybody who was willing and unwilling to see. It’s stunning imagery, ground-breaking choreography and Janet’s fierce attitude is what made this a masterpiece." ‘If’ went on to peak at # 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and at # 1 on the Billboard Dance Charts, was certified Gold, and won the 1994 MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video, the second win for Janet in the same category. She previously won the award just 2 years ago for ‘Love Will Never Do (Without You)’. To me, ‘If’ represents power, freedom and fierceness. Watching the video for the first time, I still remember being dumbstruck for hours after the video was over, wondering what hit my obese arse. Dancing to Janet’s music is pretty much every Janatic’s fave past-time. And ‘If’ was THE song that I danced to the most, meticulously picking up the steps of the grand break-down. That would be my escapism back in the day as a kid! And it still remains my escapism today, along with being my fave video of all time! Through ups and downs, I’ve always turned to this song and video if I ever need to feel powerful, inspired, rebellious or if I just feel like getting back at someone (mentally of course). And boy does it work!"

"Even today, traces of Janet’s choreography as well as the video are seen in the works of some of the biggest names in music of the past and present decade, from Paula Abdul (especially ‘My Love Is For Real’), Lil’ Kim (‘No Matter What They Say’), Christina Milian (‘Dip It Low’) to multiple videos by Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Ciara, Pink, Mya, Missy Elliott, Lady Gaga, N' Sync, Beyoncé etc. The list goes on. Just goes on to show the influence the living legend had and continues to have irrespective of an unfortunate incident in 2004 (namely the nipple-gate incident at the Superbowl for the royally uneducated) that was blown out of proportion, leading Janet Jackson to bear the brunt of a racist and hypocritical society that clearly does not have its priorities chalked out. Irrespective of that, even today Janet Jackson commands a level of respect a handful of people can boast of earning. Her latest world tour ‘Up, Close and Personal’ has sold out and garnered rave reviews everywhere, along with slowly re-affirming her position as one of the greatest live performers of all time, as well as reconnecting her with her fan base all around the world, especially the fans who were left out during the ’20 Y.O.’ and ‘Discipline’ era. And why wouldn’t she be respected?"

Patrick DeMarco of Philadelphia Magazine's GPhilly also commented on the video's eighteenth anniversary, saying "The second single, “If,” was released early summer and its video was nothing short of a gay boy’s dream come true. I’m sure I’m speaking for several boys out there when I say that close-up crotch-grab during the video’s dance routine will be embedded in our dirty gay minds forever."

Live performancesEdit

Ifjanettour

Jackson performing "If" live on the Janet. Tour in 1993.

Jackson performed the song as a medley with "That's the Way Love Goes" at the MTV Video Music Awards. The audio recording of the medley appears on the limited edition double disc edition of Janet. Jackson also performed "If" at the 2009 American Music Awards in a medley with "Miss You Much", "What Have You Done For Me Lately", "Make Me" and "Together Again" as promotion for her Number Ones compilation.

Jackson performed the song on all of her tours since the release of Janet. - Janet. Tour, The Velvet Rope Tour, All for You Tour, Rock Witchu Tour, and Number Ones: Up Close and Personal Tour.

On the Janet. World Tour, Jackson performed "If" as the opening song. The performance featured female dancers who kneeled male dancers towards their hips. Commenting on the highly athletic and sexually provocative performance, Lenny Stoute from Toronto Star stated "This pelvic-thrusting, butt-wiggling, lip-licking high-energy temptress is a long way from the cute 'n' chubby girl next door of her previous Rhythm Nation tour. And she came equipped with the tough dance moves, firm muscles and seven costume changes to emphasize the difference." Jet Magazine also described the performance, saying "With a 10-piece band and eight high-stepping dancers behind her, Janet mesmerzied the crowd by opening with the hit song, If."

Performances of "If" on Jackson's Number Ones: Up Close and Personal Tour were also acclaimed, with The Boston Herald calling it "an all-out dance onslaught" when she "rightfully deferred to her backing tracks while recreating the signature moves from her videos", with another review praising her ability to still perform "the same stylized dance moves from the classic 1993 video." The Seattle Times exclaimed "As a woman who has never been afraid to strut her sexuality, her oh-no-you-didn't dance moves are always a delight. "If's" crotch grabbing and finger licking were classic Ms. Jackson (if you're nasty)", while Fab Magazine observed the perfomance "really tore the roof off", adding "Janet was at her best when there was a dance interlude and the entire crew was moving to all three songs, just like in her videos. These numbers served as reminders that dancing is sometimes as important as the songs themselves." The Round Table declared the "If" routine and the other choreographed routines performed on the tour "defined her career and set her apart from contemporaries, including the newer crop of performers", also saying "the in-you-face-sexy "If" made it "apparent that Ms. Jackson hasn’t lost a step — even at 45."

Track listingsEdit

  • UK 7" promo single
  • French CD single
  • Japanese 3" CD single
  1. "If" (radio edit) – 3:49
  2. "One More Chance" – 5:54
  • UK 12" single
  1. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm House Mix) – 7:07
  2. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm Dub) – 7:00
  3. "If" (radio edit) – 3:49
  4. "If" (Extended LP Mix) – 5:40
  5. "If" (Brothers In Rhythm Swing Yo Pants Mix) – 6:20
  6. "If" (D&D 12" Mix) – 5:47
  • UK CD single
  • Japanese CD single
  1. "If" (radio edit) – 3:49
  2. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm House Mix) – 7:07
  3. "If" (Tee's Freeze Mix) – 7:17
  4. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm Swing Yo Pants Mix) – 6:20
  5. "If" (Extended LP Mix) – 5:40
  6. "If" (D&D 12" Mix) – 5:47
  • US double 12" single
  1. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm House Mix) – 7:07
  2. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm Dub) – 7:00
  3. "If" (Extended LP Mix) – 5:40
  4. "If" (Tee's Radio Mix) – 4:02
  5. "If" (D&D 7" Mix) – 4:23
  6. "If" (Tee's Freeze Mix) – 7:17
  7. "If" (TNT Bass Mix) – 5:36
  8. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm Swing Yo Pants Mix) – 6:20
  9. "If" (D&D JDD Mix) – 5:26
  10. "If" (Tee's Capella) – 2:09

| valign="top" style="width:50%;" |

  • US 12" single
  1. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm House Mix) – 7:07
  2. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm Swing Yo Pants Mix) – 6:20
  3. "If" (Tee's Freeze Mix) – 7:17
  4. "If" (Extended LP Mix) – 5:40
  • US promo CD single #1
  1. "If" (radio edit) – 3:49
  2. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm Swing Yo Pants Mix) – 6:20
  3. "If" (Extended LP Mix) – 5:40
  4. "If" (Todd Terry's Radio Mix) – 4:19
  5. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm House Mix) – 7:07
  6. "If" (Short Single Edit) – 2:59
  • US promo CD single #2
  1. "If" (D&D 7" Mix/Adult 7" Radio Mix) – 4:41
  2. "If" (D&D 12" Mix/Adult 12") – 5:47
  3. "If" (D&D JDD Mix/Adult Dub) – 5:26
  • US CD maxi single
  1. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm House Mix) – 7:07
  2. "If" (Brothers in Rhythm Swing Yo Pants Mix) – 6:20
  3. "If" (Tee's Freeze Mix) – 7:17
  4. "If" (Extended LP Mix) – 5:40
  5. "If" (TNT Bass Mix) – 5:36
  6. "If" (D&D 12" Mix/Adult 12") – 5:47
  7. "If" (short single edit) – 2:59
  8. "One More Chance" – 5:54

ChartsEdit

Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1993) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart 18
Canadian Singles Chart 3
Dutch Top 40 10
German Singles Chart 25
Italian Singles Chart 6
New Zealand Singles Chart 8
Swedish Singles Chart 19
Swiss Singles Chart 27
UK Singles Chart 14
Billboard Hot 100 4
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 3
Hot Dance Club Songs 1
Dance/Electronic Digital Songs 45

| valign="top" style="width:50%;" |

CertificationsEdit

Country Certification
United States Gold

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1993) Position
Australian Singles Chart 80
Canadian Singles Chart 25
US Billboard Hot 100 19
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.