The song's premature debut caused Janet and her label Virgin Records to rush with a video and promotion. Although it achieved high audience impressions and radio adds, becoming "the most-played track on radio" immediately after its release, its performance was largely affected by the blacklist of Jackson's singles and music videos on many radio formats and music channels worldwide following her controversial Super Bowl incident, with media conglomerates such as Viacom and CBS, and subsidiaries including MTV and Clear Channel Communications, enforcing the boycott after being fined by the FCC.
Due to the blacklist, the song's music video was released exclusively in select international territories, including parts of Europe and Japan. The video was directed by Dave Meyers and portrays Jackson filming a DVD for her boyfriend in a futuristic apartment setting, with various costume changes which include Jackson's trademark midriff-baring outfits.
A newly recorded urban remix of the song with alternate lyrics, vocals, and a new instrumental titled "Love Me" was produced by Just Blaze and also was initially planned for release.
Background and releaseEdit
"Just a Little While" marked Jackson's return to the pop rock genre after successfully attempting the style with "Black Cat", "What'll I Do", "What About", and "Trust a Try". The song also boasted elements of alternative pop, dance-pop, funk, and new wave, and was ultimately considered to be experimental and unexpected by many critics.
Producer and remixer Peter Rauhofer first revealed the song's title and release date when announcing he would be doing a remix of the song, with his website saying "Love Me For A Little While", possibly the song's original title, would be premiered in February. The song leaked prematurely in late January, a few days prior to Jackson's controversial Super Bowl performance. The incident prompted Virgin Records to digitally deliver the song to radio outlets worldwide ahead of its scheduled release, issuing a statement officially announcing its release for the following morning. Due to the advanced leak, "Just a Little While" was officially issued for airplay on February 2 at 7:00 A.M. EST.
Describing "Just a Little While", Jackson said "I wrote it with Dallas [Austin], and it's a very poppy song with a lot of guitar. It's a happy, up, fun song." Jackson also commented on the song's leak disrupting plans for its initial release and promotion, saying "I'm so happy people have been as receptive to it as they have but man, it's [the leak's] given me knots in my shoulders! It got leaked and we tried to stop it because we weren't prepared to release it - it was always supposed to be the first single but we weren't prepared to release it, and so it's kind of like playing catch up now with it all, trying to hurry up and get the video done because Europe got it. By the time we stopped to adhere we found out Europe already had it, so we said 'okay, this thing is kind of bigger than us so we have to kind of give in to it.'"
After its official release, "Just a Little While" quickly became the most added and played song on pop radio formats, increasing nearly five-hundred percent in airplay and also garnering "sizeable" digital downloads. Although the song received positive reception, its chart performance was massively affected by Jackson's controversial Super Bowl incident, which caused many radio formats and music channels owned by Viacom and CBS to blacklist Jackson's music and videos after being heavily fined. A senior executive for entertainment company Viacom, which owns MTV, VH1, and is affiliated with many radio formats, stated they were "absolutely bailing on the record. The pressure is so great, they can't align with anything related to Janet. The high-ups are still pissed at her, and this is a punitive measure." "Just a Little While" was quickly removed from airplay and its video was only released internationally as a result of the blacklist, and "I Want You" and "All Nite (Don't Stop)" were issued as the album's following two singles.
Jackson's AllMusic biography recapped the situation leading to the radio and video blacklist, saying "2004 began with an Internet leak of the upbeat Austin production "Just a Little While." The singer's camp rolled with the punches, offering the track to radio as an authorized digital download, but the buzz this business caused was minuscule in comparison to the nightmare union of free exposure and bad publicity that Jackson's next adventure caused. Appearing at halftime of Super Bowl XXXVIII as scheduled, Jackson performed "All for You" and "Rhythm Nation" before bringing out surprise guest [Justin] Timberlake for a duet on his hit "Rock Your Body." But the real surprise came at song's end, when a gesture from Timberlake caused Jackson's costume to tear, exposing her right, pierced breast on live television to hundreds of millions of viewers." "A federal commission was set up to investigate prurience, the FCC enacted tougher crackdowns on TV and radio programs broadcasting questionable content, and suddenly everyone from pundits to politicians to the man in the street had an opinion on Janet Jackson's chest."
Despite being barred from airplay and many promotional video channels, the song achieved chart success in various countries, notably peaking at number one for five weeks in Japan. Jackson's eighth studio album Damita Jo was certified Platinum and sold over three million copies worldwide.
The song was included on various hits compilations, including international versions of Now That's What I Call Music! and on Australia's Radioactivity Volume 04-04 compilation. "Just a Little While" was later included on the "We Love Janet" compilation, a radio promo released exclusively to Japanese markets as promotion for Jackson's ninth studio album 20 Y.O.] The song was not included on Jackson's second hits compilation Number Ones.
An urban remix of "Just a Little While" with newly recorded vocals and an alternate instrumental and lyrics was produced by Just Blaze and titled "Love Me". A second version of the remix featuring Naledge of Kidz in the Hall also leaked. At the time, Blaze was mainly known for collaborating with Jay-Z, and later produced singles such as Eminem and Lil Wayne's "No Love", and T.I. and Rihanna's "Live Your Life".
The remix was initially intended to be released as an alternate version to select radio formats before the original version of the song was removed from airplay due to the blacklist of Jackson's singles and videos, and Jackson's following single "I Want You" was then released. The remix does not officially appear on any of Jackson's singles or compilations, but was later released on a promotional Japanese vinyl along with "Speed it Up (Put it On Me)", a Damita Jo outtake produced by Rich Harrison used during dance auditions for the album's promotional tour. "Love Me" is the second time Janet has recorded a completely alternate version of a song, with the first being the DJ Premier and "Deeper" remixes of "Together Again".
The "UK Radio Edit" of the original version of "Just a Little While" also has a slightly altered instrumental.
"Just a Little While" mainly received favorable reviews from critics, who praised the song for being a contrast from Jackson's general style of dance pop and hybrid of pop and R&B, delving further into the pop rock genre. Jackson had previously experimented with different styles of the rock genre with previous singles "Black Cat", which received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and "What'll I Do", a promotional single from Janet. which was also remixed by Dave Navarro and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, in addition to "What About" and "Trust a Try", the former appearing on The Velvet Rope, performed at the VH1 Fashion Awards and initially intended as a single, with the latter included on Jackson's seventh album All for You.
Throughout many reviews, heavy emphasis was placed on the song's experimentation with rock and alternative styles, with People Magazine calling it a "Princely pop-rocker", HMV Japan qualifying it as "irresistible dance-rock", The Toronto Sun titling it as "rocked-up", The Hot Press calling it "rock-orientated", and IGN considering it fused with "alternapop."
Billboard praised the "festive, guitar-based" song, saying "Janet Jackson knows how to make a great single", also calling it "another immediate radio hit." Described as "a mid-tempo number marked by a prominent electric guitar melody", comparing the song to "Dirty Mind"-era Prince with its "new wave synths." The song's composition was also commended for maintaining Jackson's "signature fashion" of crafting lyrics that were "innocent on the surface yet naughty upon closer inspection", ultimately concluding the song's "swirling musicality" could potentially "garner it multiformat success", assuring "there isn't any reason why "Just a Little While" won't be a smash."
Top40-Charts.com called it "her best single in five years", considering it "the real news" that would potentially erase "the absurd histrionics about Ms Jackson's mammary lapse", referring to the Super Bowl controversy. "This skipping, giddy, gorgeous little minx of a song is buoyed by a smart guitar riff and a candyfloss melody, which makes the most of Jackson's thin, breathy vocals", also exclaiming the best part of the song is "there is absolutely nothing cool about it", considering the "fun, loose production" that is a contrast from Jackson's former albums. The review ultimately declared the song to be "a treat" with keyboards that "wink back at her 1990 masterpiece, "Love Will Never Do", concluding "What are you waiting for? Get out, buy it and dance around your bedroom to it."
Neil Strauss of Rolling Stone considered it "push-button rock & roll", while The Record Music Magazine exclaimed "The [album's] first single - Just A Little While - is in the top ten the world over and it’s already got the fans excited with its sexy video." Record outlet Music Stack declared the song as "Funky dance pop with a sexy, classic Prince-like vibe", commending its "stripped-down guitar sound" and "Jackson's breathy vocal delivery", which effectively "gives an idea of what the steamy songstress has planned."
Rich Juzwiak of The Village Voice positively called it "her virgin/whore-iest moment yet" in addition to Janet's "most self-sufficient" single, saying "Forget about ripping off clothes—Janet Jackson just wants a zipless fuck." Analyzing the song's lyrics, Juzwiak wrote "like a moth to a flame is Janet's hand to her strawberry (her words!). She's so eager to please that even if the quickie she solicits in the chorus doesn't go down, she'll "touch it on [her] favorite fruit" anyway". The song's subject matter was compared to the lyrical theme of "All for You", adding Janet "has been lounging in bed since 2001's All for You; the only difference now is that she's smacking bubblegum at the same time". Critiquing the song's production, the review stated "Pepsi-commercial bubbliness tempers the hyper-sexed ambrosia, with robotic guitars and synths wanting to sound 20 years younger and paying cockeyed homage to Prince's Dirty Mind." Juzwiak also interpreted Jackson's vocal delivery, writing "Janet's either too squeaky or clean to venture into Prince's dank basement, and her most purple moment turns out to be the ascending, pre-chorus "Ooh, hoo-hoo, hooo!" "The difference between this public display of sex and, ahem, the last one, is that she's so worked up, she can't premeditate what hangs out, whether it's a broken note or a banana. Atta girl Janet, jack the pain away."
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic called it "a good dance tune" and MTV considered it "flirty", while BBC UK exclaimed "Just A Little While" echoes the quintessential Janet of "Whoops Now". The Scotsman exclaimed the song "trumped" the other songs on Damita Jo, calling it "a pop single that buries its dirty intentions under a catchy melody. Already a sizeable download hit, it is likely to hang around the charts and our heads for a while". The Hot Press wrote "Nipplegate notwithstanding (or more likely because of it) Jackson is very much in control and back in the picture these days, adding "the rock-oriented first single from this, her seventh album, hit the number one spot within days of its release." Alexis Petridis of The Guardian considered the Super Bowl incident to be "an unqualified success" for Jackson, qualifying the song as "a brilliant, skeletal take on mid-1980s drivetime rock", also noting it "was released the day after Superbowl and swiftly became the most-played track on US radio". Petridis also commented on industry predictions for Jackson's Damita Jo album which it appears on, saying "Damita Jo, meanwhile, is predicted to outsell its double-platinum predecessor, 2001's All for You."
IGN considered the song "a most bizarre flip" in comparison to the dance-pop and mid-tempo-driven style of Damita Jo, ultimately praising Janet for "unleashing an upbeat, rock infused number" and attempting to experiment with the "Alternapop" genre. The review also commended the "raking guitar chords that propel the song along". Tom Moon of The Philadelphia Inquirer also praised the song, describing it as a "Princelike rocker", raving "the music has that primal quality that gets people moving before they can even process the message."Richard Cromelin of The LA Times qualified "Just a Little While" as "brisk and infectious", while Jam! Canoe regarded it as "a slice of crunchy guitar rock", with hit potential boasted by Jackson's "blush-inducing lyrics." Bob Smithouser of Plugged In Online also deciphered the song's lyrics to "invoke masturbation", also commenting its "bouncy rhythms, playful vocals and slick production values will draw countless teens into her tacky web of nymphomania."
Talk Talk UK called the song a "breezy pop masterpiece" which has "the retro feel of Outkast's 'Hey Ya' mixed with classic Janet brilliance." Entertainment Weekly exlaimed "The skittish, pared-down guitar opening is fresh and surprising, and the vibe is sexier than her Matrix Super Bowl Revolutions outfit", also calling it "lighter-than-air", though adding it seemed to be missing the "lockstep tension" of her prior works with co-producers Jam & Lewis.
The song's appearance as the last track at the album also garnered a considerable amount of attention. Lisa Verrico of The Times questioned the "odd" placement of the "uptempo pop song" at the album's finale, considering the possibility that "Jackson’s nipple caused such a fuss, it was thought too risqué to release a sex song", ultimately deciding this decision "missed the point." In a similar anecdote, The Ottawa Sun wrote "the album's most interesting, and energetic moment, is saved for the final track, Just a Little While, where there's some actual electric guitar near the front of the mix", while musicOMH called it an "unusual" way to end the album and considered it "out of place" with the previous tracks, though clarifying it to be a good closing to the album. Adverse reception was given by Slant Magazine, which called the song "a rare misfire" for the "usually reliable" Jackson and co-producer Dallas Austin, Music-News called it "teeny-pop trash" and "non-descript", while Idolator compared the song to Pink, adding "“Black Cat” shows she can rock, but this shows that she can’t rock sweetly." Michael Paoletta of Billboard gave the song a favorable review, saying it "sounded like nothing else" on the album and should be "used as a starting point" for her next release, though considered Jackson's following single "I Want You" to have a better chance for success on several airplay formats.
However, additional reviews continued to commend the single. HMV Japan described the song as an "irresistible" fusion of "carnal" and "innocent" sensibilities, stating "Jackson truly scores when she combines the distinctly carnal with more innocent pop notions, as she does with verve on the irresistible dance-rock of "Just a Little While." The Hartford Courant said the track "features a discernible melody, a catchy vocal hook, a prominent, up-tempo guitar riff that helps the tune stand out from the dross", also praising it for showing a "flash of the ingenuity that makes her such an interesting artist."
Janet performed "Just a Little While" frequently throughout Europe, also promoting the song in Japan and Canada. Jackson performed the song at Top of the Pops, Top of the Pops Saturday, Much on Demand, Japan's Hey! Hey! Hey!, the United Kingdom's Channel 4, CD:UK, Hit Machine, Italy's Festivalbar, Vivement Dimanche, McChart Show, Les Années Tubes, Le Grand Classement, France's Hits & Co, and MSN.
To date, the song has not been included on any of Jackson's following tours such as the Rock Witchu Tour and Number Ones, Up Close and Personal Tour. Jackson initially planned to perform "Just a Little While" in addition to "I Want You" and "All Nite (Don't Stop)" on Good Morning America, but the song was omitted from the set list for unknown reasons.
Chart performance and blacklistEdit
The song's chart performance was largely affected by Jackson's highly controversial Super Bowl Halftime Show incident. The incident, which became the most-watched event of all time and most replayed moment in television history, prompted various conglomerates involved with the broadcast such as Viacom and CBS, and subsidiaries including MTV and Clear Channel Communications, to blacklist Jackson's singles and music videos worldwide after being fined by the FCC, with the ban also continuing throughout the course of Jackson's following two albums. At the time of the single's release, Jackson was regarded as the world's "most controversial musician" who was "changing the cultural landscape" due to the incident's massive effect on censorship and broadcasting in television and entertainment.
"Just a Little While" was the highest-charting single from Damita Jo, with a debut at number thirteen on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles the week of February 14, entering the Billboard Hot 100 at number forty-seven the following week, and later peaking at number forty-five, reaching number 17 on the pop airplay charts. Although the song's airplay increased nearly five-hundred percent following its official release, it was soon barred from radio after Jackson's blacklist was quietly put into place, prompting Jackson to release "I Want You" as the following single. "Just a Little While" garnered a high audience impression of over 28 million during its first official week at radio before it was removed, already reaching the Top 20 in airplay, becoming the most added song on pop radio and achieving high digital downloads. This was Jackson's first song since 1982's "Come Give Your Love to Me" to miss the top forty on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it gave Jackson her fifteenth chart-topper on the Hot Dance Club Play chart.
Chart performance and blacklistEdit
Despite the blacklist, the single's overall chart performance outside the United States was exceptional. The single managed to reach number two in Belgium, number three in Canada, number six in Spain, top 10 in Hungary, and the top twenty in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Italy. However, its chart performance in the United Kingdom was also hindered due to the single being released on the same day as the release of the Damita Jo album.
"Just a Little While" also reached number one on Japan's J-Wave Tokio Hot 100 airplay chart for five weeks. Upon its release, the song also reached the top position on Microsoft's Windows Media Player streaming songs chart, ahead of singles such as Britney Spears' "Toxic", Seal's "Waiting for You", and Twista's "Overnight Celebrity".
The blacklist of Jackson's music and videos drew a considerable amount of attention from critics when providing commentary on the single and Damita Jo album. Billboard exclaimed the "electronic guitar studded" song to be among "the album's biggest highlights", also noting "the three singles it [Damita Jo] spawned were blacklisted by pop radio". Allan Raible of ABC News also reflected on the song's success being affected by Jackson's airplay and music channel blacklist in a review of her tenth studio album Discipline, expressing "had the Super Bowl incident not happened, I have a feeling the rock-edged “Just a Little While” and the Kanye West assisted “Strawberry Bounce” would have been enough to make the album [Damita Jo] more of a success." Additionally, Doug Rule of The Metro Weekly revealed "the best tracks on Damita Jo are likely to be barred from commercial airtime" due to the blacklist, adding "in the case of first single "Just A Little While, " never really get past go" as a result.
Metro Weekly compared the song's chart positions to Jackson's rival Madonna's chart peaks with "American Life" the prior year, saying that after Madonna released a "boring" video that resulted in the "biggest flop of her career", "It's doubtful Jackson planned the Super Bowl stunt to be quite the reveal it was. She also didn't count on the backlash, a backlash that has actually caused her the same fate as Madonna: public apathy to her music."
Music videoEditThe music video for "Just a Little While" was directed by Dave Meyers and filmed in Los Angeles, California. Entertainment show Extra! first showed clips of the video before its official premiere on Yahoo! Music's Launch. The video was exclusively released internationally in select European countries, Canada, Australia, and Japan, but was not released in the United States.
In the video, Jackson films a DVD for her dreadlocked boyfriend while in a futuristic apartment setting, with a total of five outfit changes and six different sets. Jackson's friends arrive and they continue filming until her boyfriend enters with a kitten as a present for her. One of the outfits worn in the video is similar to the outfit worn during her wardrobe malfunction during her infamous Super Bowl performance. The video is notable for taking the innovative approach of the lead star filming herself through a camcorder for a large portion of the video.
MTV, which was the most popular video outlet worldwide and was essential for promotion at the time, refused to air the video or any of Jackson's following videos from Damita Jo or her next two albums 20 Y.O. and Discipline after being fined by the FCC due to producing Jackson's controversial Super Bowl performance. A senior executive for Viacom, the fourth largest media conglomerate in the world which owns MTV, VH1, and has ties to many major radio formats, confirmed the blacklist to Blender Magazine, stating "[we are] absolutely bailing on the record." "The pressure is so great, they can't align with anything related to Janet. The high-ups are still pissed at her, and this is a punitive measure." In British publication Music Week, Virgin Record's marketing director Elizabeth Nordy stated that MTV's lack of support due to the Super Bowl incident had been a "major catalyst" in the performance of Jackson's singles from the album.
Due to the blacklist, the song's promotion in the United States was ceased before the video was released, limiting its exposure to select international markets. The video was initially scheduled to premiere on VH1 and BET the week of March 8, but its release was canceled as a result.
The video was only commercially released on the enhanced "Just a Little While" single and EMI's DVD Sampler: Vol. 4, while a live version of the video, shot in London for French entertainment show Hits & Co, was included on the From Janet. to Damita Jo: The Videos compilation.
The video begins with Jackson's boyfriend opening a package addressed to a hotel in Tokyo, Japan. Her fiancé then opens the package, which contains a DVD and a note reading 'Love, Janet.' As the DVD begins to play, Jackson is then revealed laying in bed as she films herself. Jackson continues filming as she gets out of bed and puts on high-heels, and can now be seen wearing a black and red leather outfit reminiscent of the costume worn during her controversial Super Bowl performance, as well as several red chokers. In her high-tech apartment, Jackson is then shown in a different room wearing sunglasses, eating strawberries (which references part of the song's lyrics) and other various fruit while the camcorder faces the window, revealing a futuristic setting with unidentified air crafts hovering throughout the city. Jackson then begins to dance and perform the song's chorus in her bedroom, and can briefly be seen listening to a First Generation iPod. Various camcorder messages such as "error" and "end of tape" flash across the screen momentarily as she continues filming herself.
Jackson's boyfriend then watches a second DVD, which shows Janet in a midriff-revealing red outfit and long ponytail with red highlights while sitting near an outdoor water fountain. Jackson portrays the song's lyrics and operates various functions on the camcorder, including 'zoom'. The next scene reveals Janet in the apartment's main living quarters, standing near a window while drinking a glass of wine. Jackson's full midriff and trademark naval piercing can now be seen entirely, and various air crafts are again depicted in the background as the sun begins to set.
Jackson's three friends arrive in the next scene, who perform the song and film each other in various cut scenes. Following this, Jackson is seen laying near the fireplace as her friends are passed out on the floor. Janet's boyfriend continues watching as the final setting of a blonde Jackson is shown in the kitchen. Jackson is now in a revealing white outfit as she prepares a meal for her fiancé, who arrives soon after. Jackson's fiancé enters and surprises her with a present, which is revealed to be a grey kitten. Jackson excitedly shows her gift to the camcorder before turning it off, and various scenes of Jackson in all the apartment's settings and different outfits are shown before the video ends with Jackson blowing a kiss to the camera and a final "end of tape" message flashes on the screen.
Alternate remixes and radio edits of the song were released throughout various global markets, with some releases including Jackson's promotional club single "Janet Megamix 04". A previously unreleased B-Side also appears on a rare promotional Japanese vinyl with the song's official urban remix "Love Me".
- Australian 12" single (7243 5 47896 6 3)
- A. "Just a Little While" (Album Version) – 4:11
- B. "Just a Little While" (Maurice's Nu Soul Remix) – 7:12
- Australian CD single (7243 8 48473 2 5)
- Japanese promo CD single (VJCP-12177)
- Japanese CD single (VJCP-12177)
- "Just a Little While" (Single Radio Edit) – 3:59
- "Just a Little While" (Peter Rauhofer Club Mix) – 9:28
- "Just a Little While" (Maurice's Nu Soul Remix) – 7:12
- US 12" promo single (7243 5 48471 1 0)
- A1. "Just a Little While" (Album Version) – 4:11
- A2. "Just a Little While" (Maurice's Nu Soul Remix) – 7:12
- B1. "Just a Little While" (Peter Rauhofer Club Mix) – 9:28
- US CD single (7087 6 18489 2 2)
- US promo CD single (184892)
- "Just a Little While" (Single Radio Edit) – 3:59
- "Just a Little While" (Peter Rauhofer Radio Edit) – 3:58
- "Just a Little While" (Peter Rauhofer Club Mix) – 9:28
- "Just a Little While" (Maurice's Nu Soul Radio Edit) – 3:36
- "Just a Little While" (Maurice's Nu Soul Remix) – 7:12
- Japan 12" promo single" (JJ-2702)
- "Speed it Up (Put it On Me)" – 3:50
- "Love Me" (Remix) – 4:05
- US double 12" single (7087 6 18489 1 5)
- A. "Just a Little While" (Peter Rauhofer Club Mix) – 9:28
- B. "Just a Little While" (Peter Rauhofer Dub Mix) – 6:37
- C. "Just a Little While" (Maurice's Nu Soul Remix) – 7:12
- D. "Just a Little While" (Maurice's Nu Soul Dub) – 7:14
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- UK promo tour CD single
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