Janet (Ms Jackson if you’re nasty)

Janet has been on my mind a lot the past few months, what with Michael, and I was driven to go listen to Control again. It must have been quite a shock for Ms Jackson’s fans when it dropped in 1986. I wasn’t aware of her teenage bubblegum pop stuff as a kid, though I suppose I must have seen her on Diff’rent Strokes. And then, all of a sudden, “Nasty.” It scared the heck out of me in the sixth grade. But the music was irresistible. I didn’t know why I liked it then, but now I can articulate: bebop phrasing over industrial drum machines and synths, that’s the sound of all the music I like as an adult.

Control was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. I always thought that their stuff sounded a lot like Prince, so I wasn’t surprised to read on Wikipedia that they were part of Morris Day And The Time.

The other song we’re working on remixing is “What Have You Done For Me Lately.” The chorus has that ear-grabbing E-flat dimished scale lick in the big synth, but this song’s most lasting effect on musicians was due its bassline, played on a Yamaha TX81Z, which blends overtones into a distinctively harsh sound. The module in the photo just generates electrical signals; you need an external keyboard or sequencer to control it and speakers to hear it.

The Lately bass sound is so popular that now every synth comes with a preset called LatelyBass. I’ll bet you there’s some LatelyBass being played on some dance floor in your town on any given night.

Here’s my favorite track from a much later Janet album, The Velvet Rope, released during the peak of my Grateful Dead obsession so I totally slept on it at the time.

Some notes about the Nasty remix/mashup:

The three singers, in order of entrance, are Candida Haynes, Babsy Singer and Nicole Bishop. I use slightly different sounds on them. Candida’s vocal is doubled, with one copy dry and the other Auto-Tuned to the chromatic scale. There’s quarter-note delay on both copies. The song she’s quoting is “Certainly” by Erykah Badu. Babsy’s sound is the one that’s emerged as our standard Revival Revival patch: three copies of the vocal, one dry, one Auto-tuned to the key of the song and one Auto-tuned to the tonic for extra wide warbles and posthumanness. The tonic track also has Amplitube on it for dirt. (When Babsy first enters, the posthuman track is soloed.) Nicole’s sound is the simplest, the same as Candida’s minus the delay. Everything else on the track is sampled from the Janet Jackson original, with some slicing and dicing in Recycle. Nasty!

See also a post about Janet and Michael’s mutual influence.

4 thoughts on “Janet (Ms Jackson if you’re nasty)

  1. Hello there. Love your blog. I read above how you were discussing the keyboards used on “What Have You Done For Me Lately.” Do you know what patch was used for the main percussive synth part?

    Thank you

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