For those of you that watched the Bobby Brown Story this week, you know that Janet Jackson is top of mind for many at the moment. Trysts of the past aside, Janet has been, and always will be, a symbol of both fierce womanhood and subtle sensuality to me. In my last post, I talked about the benefits of dining alone and spending time relishing your own company. Spending time alone isn't a new phenomenon for me, though, and it may not be for some of you either. I've spent much of my teenage and young adult years spending time completely alone. Janet's music speaks to a lot of what I feel when I'm by myself and in many ways, helps me unpack how to turn that solitude into spunk, self-empowerment, and spirited self-reflection.
Here are a few of my personal JJ favorites and the reasons why I love them so:
1) I Get Lonely
If I had a dollar for every time that I blasted this song through my earphones on a bus ride to or from school, I would be rich. Since we're on the topic of solitude, I have no problem admitting that I get lonely. I mean really, really lonely. Spend hours without any interaction with other humans outside of a social media app lonely. Go months, and sometimes a year or more, without romantic involvement lonely. "Crying like a newborn child" thinking of loves, or likes, lost lonely.
And I love this song for reminding me that there ain't no shame in humanity. In acknowledging the natural desire for human companionship. When we acknowledge that sometimes we, too, get lonely, and remember that we're never truly alone in our loneliness because others the world over are experiencing the same sentiment in so many different ways, we find serenity in solitude. At the very least, hitting the "break it down" ad libs and notes with Janet always makes me feel like if nothing else, my good sis Janet is right there with me, and we can sing through it together.
2) Someone to Call My Lover
If you've been single for awhile, or if you've been in a relationship that leaves you feeling alone even when you're together, it can be difficult to stop the repeat loop on "I Get So Lonely." However, there is light at the end of many self-loving, single-living tunnels. If you ever need a reminder that love could truly be right around the corner, this song is the one. Even if it's not - even if love is far off into the future down what seems to be a never-ending path - this is a gentle reminder that, as Darius Lovehall said, "romance is about the possibility of the thing."
How often do we get excited about the possibility of a new vacation destination? Of a prospective job offer? Of a new dish to try or a new wine to drink? "Someone to Call My Lover" is an ode to the possibility of a love jumping right out at you when you least expect it to. Maybe you'll meet them at a bar, maybe they'll drive a funky car; maybe you'll find them today...and maybe you won't. Isn't the beauty of the thing still in the fact that even if you don't, that just leaves more possibility and more excitement for tomorrow?
3) All for You
Hook, line, sinker. This song always reminds me of the power and influence of womanhood. Regardless of who, what, and where you're looking to catch someone's eye and be that the eye of a new love interest, a crush in the club, or a long time baby love, Janet reminds you that the thrill is in the chase. You want it? Come and get it. You like me? Say it, and say it loudly. You want my time? Ask for it. Who doesn't love a liberated (albeit demanding) queen?
Now more than ever, in the age of social media communication, we need the constant reminder that what we want in life we must claim. Especially as it pertains to love and like. Own the right to ask for what and who you want when you deem yourself ready to and within the bounds of mutual consideration and consent. Long story short, Janet has been telling the folks to shoot their shot since 2001; it's never a bad time to take that advice and run with it. Your wishes just might start coming true if you turn them into goals you work for instead of just aspirations you hope will come to pass.
4) Doesn't Really Matter
At face value, this hit seems to convey that no matter whether you're single and mingling or "Boo'd Up," in large part, the opinions of others on your relationship with yourself and/or with your beau should not be your chief concern. I typically take this song a bit less literally than the content would suggest. Janet croons throughout this tune about the importance of following your heart when it comes to love, no matter what your loved ones say. Now, take that with a grain of salt: sometimes we go crazy in love like Bey said and loved ones truly do need to reel us back in. I prefer to take the upbeat, bubbly message as the title suggests: sometimes it just doesn't matter. Your relationship status, the influences that the highlight reels of social media have on your ability to be content with yourself and your standing in life, your current career path or entrepreneurial venture. None of that matters to others in the same way that it matters to you.
So, hold it close, hold it near, hold it dear. If you like it, I love it. And if you love it, it will show, whether "it" is a person, initiative, or thing. It really doesn't matter what other people say at the end of the day, because nobody else is walking in the shoes you're blessed to fill.
5) All Nite (Don't Stop)
This song is really just nostalgia for me. I remember having a jazz routine to this one for a dance recital one year (shout out to the Joyce LaVerne School of Dance) and it was so, so much fun. More than just fun, though, this song was, and is, youthful energy. Life is too short, too fleeting, to fail to enjoy the nights while we have them, even if those are nights spent with just you and yourself. Dancing as an act can be so intimidating - even as someone who has had formal dance training, I find myself feeling awkward and offbeat from time to time. I have to remind myself that at the end of the day I can't dance, just like I can't live, worrying about who's watching.
Whether I'm hitting every downbeat or two-stepping in a different direction than the rest of the crowd, the joy is in the ability to dance, not in the perfection of the moves. And I love to dance. Cookout, winter formal, homecoming tailgate, in my room in the middle of the week, you name it, holla at your girl. And rhythm master or not, professional ballerina or owner of two left feet - you, too, should dance. Dance like no one's watching and dance like you've got nothing better to do than give your body to the beat "all nite." Don't stop 'til you get enough.
What are your favorite Janet Jackson tracks? Are there any messages or feelings that you get when you listen to her music? Talk to me about it on Instagram!