Already have an account?
Get back to the

Happy Birthday, Janet Jackson! Take a Look at Her 10 Best Songs, Ranked

Did your favorite make the list?

On May 16, 1957, a star was born: Janet Jackson, known for her iconic pop and R&B songs, groundbreaking style and relentless authenticity, has been leaving her mark on the entertainment industry since she was a young girl.

A member of the famed Jackson family, stardom was simply in her DNA. Early in her career, she could be seen on the screen in series like Good Times and Fame, but it was the music business that she eventually found her footing.

MUST-READ: ‘Good Times’ Cast Then and Now: Catch Up With the Evans Family!

Although musical fame wasn’t immediate, by 1986, her album Control put her on the map — and the rest is history. Here, take a look at the 10 best Janet Jackson songs over the course of her career.

10 best Janet Jackson songs, ranked

10. “Control” (1986)

Her fourth single off of her breakthrough album Control, this hit serves as her call for independence from her parents, her family and her ex-husband.

“Got my own mind/I wanna make my own decisions/When it has to do with my life, my life/I wanna be the one in control,” she sings.

9. “All for You” (2001)

In the wake of her previous, slightly heavier album, The Velvet Rope, “All for You” was a well-received and upbeat pop number that musically, takes listeners back to the early days of Jackson’s career.

It’s bubbly, upbeat and complete with a few cheeky lyrics, making it the perfect dance hit — something she manages to create time after time.

Fun fact: Taylor Swift actually references this track in her 2022 song off the Midnights album, “Snow On the Beach” featuring Lana Del Rey. Swift sings, “But your eyes are flying saucers from another planet/Now I’m all for you like Janet.”

MUST-READ: Clara Bow — The Tragic and Triumphant Life of Hollywood’s First ‘It’ Girl

8. “Miss You Much” (1989)

Off of her fourth studio album, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, “Miss You Much,” was the lead single off the body of work.

The groovy pop hit had much success on the charts, and the chair choreography from the music video remains an iconic piece of pop culture history to this day.

7. “Escapade” (1989)

“Escapade” is quintessential Janet Jackson at her finest. An upbeat love song with a contagious beat, how can you not dance along?

“Come on, baby, let’s get away/Let’s save our troubles for another day/Come go with me we’ve got it made/Let me take you on an escapade,” Jackson sings.

6. “If” (1993)

Differing greatly from the upbeat dance hits she’s loved for, “If” takes a somewhat grittier approach as she details various fantasies she has about a specific man in a club. The lyrics and music video together marked Janet’s transition into an edgier era.

5. “Rhythm Nation” (1989) Janet Jackson songs

Despite its upbeat rhythm, the lyrics of this track are far deeper, with a theme of social justice and a message that urges the use of music to unite.

“With music by our side to break the color lines/Let’s work together to improve our way of life/Join voices in protest to social injustice/A generation full of courage, come forth with me.”

4. “When I Think of You” (1986) Janet Jackson songs

“When I Think of You” was another song off of Jackson’s breakthrough album, Control. This feel-good love song tells it how it is — When Janet thinks of her lover, nothing else really seems to matter.

3. “That’s the Way Love Goes” (1993)

A much more mellow R&B track, “That’s the Way Love Goes” differed from the style many had grown used to and showcased Janet’s range as an artist. The song was a chart topper and remains a classic to this day.

2. “Nasty” (1986) Janet Jackson songs

This funky 1986 hit is a message to all the “nasty boys” Janet encountered while out and about, who tried to get her attention through unsavory means.

“No, my first name ain’t baby/It’s Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty,” she warns.

1. “What Have You Done For Me Lately” (1986) Janet Jackson songs

The girl-power bop has Janet questioning her satisfaction with a partner, asking “What have you done for me lately?” The song came in the wake of her separation from James DeBarge.

“Used to go to dinner almost every night/Dancing ’til I thought I’d lose my breath (Ah)/Now it seems your dancing feet are always on my couch/Good thing I cook or else we’d starve to death/Ain’t that a shame?,” she digs.

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.