Pleasure principle

CD single cover art.

"The Pleasure Principle" is the sixth single from Janet Jackson's 1986 album Control. It was released on May 12, 1987 and the photo for the single cover was taken by famed fashion photographer David LaChapelle.



Jackson performing "The Pleasure Principle" live on the Rhythm Nation 1814 Tour in 1990.

Written and produced by Monte Moir, the song is an "independent woman" anthem about love gone wrong built around a dance beat. It mentions a "Big Yellow Taxi," alluding to the Joni Mitchell song Jackson would prominently sample in her 1997 hit, "Got 'til It's Gone." "The Pleasure Principle" was nominated for Best Single, Female at the 1988 Soul Train Music Awards.

Jackson has performed the song on the Rhythm Nation 1814 Tour, The Velvet Rope Tour, Rock Witchu Tour, and Number Ones: Up Close and Personal. It was not included on the janet. Tour and the All for You Tour.

Chart performanceEdit

Released in mid-1987, "The Pleasure Principle" peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 that summer, becoming the only song released from Control to miss the top five of the chart. It nevertheless became her fifth chart-topper on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and her third on the Hot Dance Club Play. It was ranked number 34 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs year-end chart of 1987. Outside the U.S. the single would be able to make it into the top 40 in most markets, but failed to match the international success of Control's previous singles.

Music videoEdit


Screen cap from the video.

For the Dominic Sena-directed music video, the Shep Pettibone Mix was used. At the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards the video won for Best Choreography and was nominated for Best Female Video.

In the video, Jackson enters a loft to practice her dancing. She gives a solo dance performance while singing about the pleasure principle. Elements of the choreography incorporate a chair and a microphone stand.

During MTV's first-ever mtvICON in 2001, Jackson was paid tribute by singers Pink, Usher, and Mýa. Mýa paid tribute by re-enacting Jackson's choreography from the video, most noticeably the mirror scene. On April 27, 2007, the video was made available on the iTunes Store.

Britney Spears referenced "The Pleasure Principle" video, as well as Janet's "Miss You Much" video for the chair routine in her "Stronger" music video, with the video's director Joseph Kahn saying her idea was inspired by "Janet Jackson's 'Pleasure Principle' — the iconic chair sequence in that".[1] A review of the video also commented "Ms. Spears gives us her best Janet Jackson impression (“Miss You Much“) with a dizzying chair-dance routine."[2] Spears also referenced and draws inspiration from Janet in several other music videos, including "Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know". "Overprotected (Darkchild Remix)", "Womanizer", and "Circus".

Track listingsEdit

U.S. 7" single
A. "The Pleasure Principle" – 4:58
B. "Fast Girls" – 3:20
U.S. and European 12" single
Australian limited edition 12" single
A1. "The Pleasure Principle" (long vocal) – 7:23
A2. "The Pleasure Principle" (a cappella) – 4:23
B1. "The Pleasure Principle" (12" dub) – 6:58
B2. "The Pleasure Principle" (7" vocal) – 4:19
UK and European 7" single
A. "The Pleasure Principle" (The Shep Pettibone Mix) – 4:19
B. "The Pleasure Principle" (Dub Edit – The Shep Pettibone Mix) – 5:10
UK 12" single
A1. "The Pleasure Principle" (long vocal remix) – 7:28
B1. "The Pleasure Principle" (dub edit) – 6:58
B2. "The Pleasure Principle" (a cappella) – 4:19
UK CD single and 12" single – "The Pleasure Principle"/"Alright" – Danny Tenaglia/Todd Terry Mixes
  1. "The Pleasure Principle" (Legendary Club Mix) – 8:16
  2. "The Pleasure Principle" (NuFlava Vocal Dub) – 7:21
  3. "The Pleasure Principle" (Banji Dub) – 7:10
  4. "The Pleasure Principle" (D.T.'s Twilo Dub) – 9:04
  5. "Alright" (Tee's Club Mix) – 6:22
  6. "Alright" (Tee's Beats) – 3:25

Official versions/remixesEdit

  • Album version – 4:57
  • A cappella – 4:23
  • 7" vocal/The Shep Pettibone Mix – 4:19
  • Long vocal/Long vocal remix – 7:23 (appears on the UK edition of Control: The Remixes)
  • Dub edit – 5:19
  • 12" dub/Dub edit – 6:58
  • Design of a Decade edit – 4:13
  • D.T.'s Twilo Dub – 9:04
  • NuFlava Vocal Dub – 7:21
  • Legendary Club Mix – 8:16
  • Legendary Radio Mix – 4:17
  • Banji Dub – 7:10



Chart (1987) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report 50
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders) 17
Canadian Singles Chart 35
Dutch Top 40 15
Irish Singles Chart 23
New Zealand Singles Chart 37
UK Singles Chart 24
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 14
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs 1
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