Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: Song-By-Song Thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by KJTC, Sep 19, 2021.

  1. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Amsterdam
    475. Janet Jackson, “Rhythm Nation”

    Generic and overproduced. Hard to distinguish from hundreds of other bland dance and R&B run-of-the-mill songs in the 1980s. I thought things like this would have been long forgotten now. Guess I was wrong. But just compare this with wat for example Prince came up with during this years, including his spin-off projects. Anyway, let me grace it with a 1.5/5.
     
  2. prymel

    prymel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston
    “Rhythm Nation” 2/5 – The craft here is admirable, but it’s way too much of a studio creation and not enough pure organic music making. Jackson’s vocal is detached and robotic, which matches the sonics swirling around her. Something like this should be exciting and energizing, but it’s cold and lifeless.

    Top 10:
    1. Cannonball – Breeders
    2. Our Lips Are Sealed – Go-Go’s
    3. You're So Vain - Carly Simon
    4. Oye Como Va - Santana
    5. I Can’t Help Myself – Four Tops
    6. Where Is My Mind? - Pixies
    7. Baby Love - Supremes
    8. Without You – Nilsson
    9. Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down – Kris Kristofferson
    10. Buddy Holly - Weezer
     
  3. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Central ME
    #475. Janet Jackson, “Rhythm Nation” (1989)
    This so-called socially conscious song comes across to me as corny, pretentious, and all for show. I find its production downright obnoxious especially with that sampled and repeated stupid-sounding vocal squeal! Janet obviously seized an opportunity to score a few bucks with this, and I certainly can't fault her for that. Great song? Hardly!

    I'm not a fan of socially conscious songs, but The Temptations' Ball Of Confusion had better damned well be on this list!
     
  4. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    Rhythm Nation
    B
    Big-money video and, obviously, admirable positive socially-conscious lyrics, but this is sooooo "80s-sounding" (and MJ-sounding, frankly) that it exists today almost more as an artifact than anything else. And unlike some of the other songs on the album, this one doesn't work quite as well without the context of the rest of it.
     
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  5. KJTC

    KJTC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    What “Ball of Confusion” and “Rhythm Nation” have in common: Both used the sounds and instrumentation of the day that were dominant in youth-oriented music to tailor a socially conscious message to their target audience. Both records are sincere in intent. You just weren’t the target audience for the latter record.

    My generation was, and the song and album were taken seriously.
     
  6. KJTC

    KJTC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    It’s definitely the album’s thesis statement. It works better within the context of the album, for sure.
     
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  7. BluesOvertookMe

    BluesOvertookMe Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX, USA
    Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation
    I liked this when it came out, still do, really. Thought it was pretty funky.

    Embarrassingly, it was only recently (this year, I think), that Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) was on my car radio and I realized that pretty much everything cool about the Janet Jackson song was sampled from Sly & the Family Stone! If this is #475, surely Thank You is top #100, right? RIGHT?

    Updated list
    1. Go-Gos - Our Lips Are Sealed
    2. Santana - Oye Cómo Va
    3. Carly Simon - You're So Vain
    4. Lady Gaga - Bad Romance
    5. Guns N' Roses - Welcome to the Jungle
    6. The Four Tops – I Can’t Help Myself
    7. Pixies - Where is My Mind?
    8. Robert Johnson - Cross Roads Blues
    9. Kris Kristofferson - Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down
    10. Weezer - Buddy Holly
    11. Miles Davis - So What
    12. Kanye West - Stronger
    13. Townes Van Zandt - Pancho and Lefty
    14. Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation
    15. Juvenile - Back That Azz Up
    16. The Breeders - Cannonball
    17. Nilsson - Without You
    18. Azealia Banks -212
    19. Solange: Cranes In The Sky

    (big gap)

    20. Lil Nas X - Old Town Road
    21. Biz Markie - Just a Friend
    22. Lil Wayne - A Milli
    23. The Weeknd – House of Balloons
    24. Lizzo - Truth Hurts
    25. Supremes - Baby Love
    26. Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time
     
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  8. BluesOvertookMe

    BluesOvertookMe Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX, USA
    I also prefer Escapade. I prefer Black Cat too.
     
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  9. KJTC

    KJTC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    I’d have gone with “Love Will Never Do Without You.” Lots to choose from on that album, which was the first album in history to earn two chart achievements: seven top five singles, and a No. 1 single in three different calendar years.

    Madonna always has been and always will be my ride or die from this era of music, but Jackson’s run from Control to The Velvet Rope was very impressive, artistically and commercially.
     
  10. BluesOvertookMe

    BluesOvertookMe Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX, USA
    It was a huge record, no doubt.
     
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  11. Terrapin Station

    Terrapin Station Master Guns

    Location:
    NYC Man
    Here's a good example of how much I don't pay attention to lyrics. How many tens of times have I heard the Rhythm Nation album and that particular track since 1989? It would be impossible for me to count, but I've heard it a ton. Well, I hadn't the faintest idea until you folks started mentioning it in this thread that the lyrics were "socially conscious."

    I always figured that the lyrics must just be along the lines of, "Yeah, baby--check out this groove! Let's dance! We're all dancing! We're an entire country that's dancing to this groove, and that's what we want!!" I guess not. lol.
     
  12. KJTC

    KJTC Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    The vitamins were hidden in the chocolate cake.
     
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  13. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    This is the title track of a renowned concept album about social issues.
     
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  14. RudolphS

    RudolphS Forum Resident

    Location:
    Rio de Janeiro
    Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation

    The Rhythm Nation 1814 album is the moment when Janet Jackson surpassed her older brother, imo. Maybe not in sales but for Janet 'Rhythm Nation' was an ambitious tour de force, elevating her to the major league. However, as others have noted, what was state of the art in 1989 doesn't necessarily stand the test of time in 2021. The Jam & Lewis production in some parts of the (very long) album sounds now cluttered and rather forced. But there are still plenty of interesting moments, and the title track is among those; an uptempo R&B song with very tight production that still grooves 30 years later.
    'Rhythm Nation 1814' confirmed that the success of previous album 'Control' was no fluke, but Jackson would refine her talents on further releases. Her real artistic triumph is 1997's 'The Velvet Rope' in my opinion, an album that has aged much better.

    3,5 / 5


    One thing I need to get off my chest, so far this list has been very, very mainstream. Very few left-field picks (possibly only the Azealia Banks and Breeders tracks). It's telling that 'You're So Vain', a '70s softrock song, is the #1 in my top 10, by lack of a better option.

    01. Carly Simon - You're So Vain
    02. The Breeders - Cannonball
    03. Azealia Banks - 212
    04. Guns N' Roses - Welcome To The Jungle
    05. Four Tops - I Can't Help Myself
    06. The Weeknd - House Of Balloons
    07 Miles Davis - So What
    08. Weezer - Buddy Holly
    09. Kanye West - Power
    10. Lady Gaga - Bad Romance
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
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  15. Terrapin Station

    Terrapin Station Master Guns

    Location:
    NYC Man
    I love the album and I've owned it since it came out, I just never had any idea about the lyrical content. I normally don't care anything about lyrics when it comes to music.
     
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  16. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    It's Rolling Stone! :)

    Also, the manner in which the list was created probably has a mainstream skew, IMO, as voters could only go as deep as their top 50.
     
  17. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Amsterdam
    Same here. And frankly, a musician's stance on social issues (or any opinion) doesn't interest me in the slightest. Never has, never will.
     
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  18. Wild Horse

    Wild Horse Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    Rhythm Nation

    It has a certain power in the production that dance songs usually lack, and I like the incorporation of the Sly Stone sample. Plus there's no rap in the middle pretending to take the place of a guitar solo, which was starting to become an unfortunate thing in R&B about this time.

    It's not going to make my 10 list, but it wouldn't be that far under "Welcome To The Jungle", considering the songs so far.

    2.5/5

    So What - Miles Davis
    You're So Vain - Carly Simon
    Without You - Nilsson
    Oye Como Va - Santana
    I Can't Help Myself - Four Tops
    Baby Love - Supremes
    Cross Road Blues - Robert Johnson
    Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper
    Our Lips Are Sealed - Go-Gos
    Welcome To The Jungle - Guns N' Roses
     
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  19. Wild Horse

    Wild Horse Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    Same here, also. I hate politics in music (lyrics).
     
  20. Terrapin Station

    Terrapin Station Master Guns

    Location:
    NYC Man
    Yeah, same here. I don't really care about celebrities' takes on politics, social issues, etc., unless they also have a background in a relevant academic field. I expect musicians to be experts in making music (experts with melodies, harmonies, etc.), I expect filmmakers to be experts at making films (that is, telling stories effectively, providing good acting, cinematography, editing, production design, etc.), and that's it. I don't want preachiness, political stuff, attempts to do philosophy, etc. from films either. Just tell a good, entertaining story with a well-made film.

    I mean, celebrities might have something interesting to say, but the chances of that are no greater than a random person working at my local Dunkin Donuts or at my gym or something would have something interesting to say, and it's probably not going to be a view that's going to hold up to much academic rigor. Even with academics I often have issues with claims being made, but at least they should have the background to be able to address that stuff rationally, without getting overly emotional, etc.
     
  21. Terrapin Station

    Terrapin Station Master Guns

    Location:
    NYC Man
    Yeah, that's a problem with producing a list like this by collating a bunch of top 50s or whatever. The more obscure stuff tends to be lost in the shuffle. That's why the "esoteric" listings on rym are useful.
     
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  22. BluesOvertookMe

    BluesOvertookMe Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX, USA
    I've thought about this whole top 50 from each person and how voters might have handled it:

    For instance, one of my favorite songs is Spiral Architect by Black Sabbath. It's definitely one of my Top 50, so I would probably put it on my list of 50. However, I might start overthinking about it and decide maybe no one else will vote for it, so is it a wasted vote? So maybe I vote for Paranoid instead, figuring someone else would vote for that song, it's more likely, and at least I help get a Black Sabbath song in there... but it makes for a more generic list.

    Perhaps I'm the only person that thinks like this, and they all really did vote for their top 50 songs.
     
  23. Terrapin Station

    Terrapin Station Master Guns

    Location:
    NYC Man
    Yeah, I've done the same thing when a bunch of people voting on a top list has been brought up. I've left stuff off because I knew it was pointless to take up a slot with it. But a lot of my favorite stuff is pretty esoteric.

    One way around that is to do something like a supplemental list where you say "Here also is a list of albums that were nominated by only one person," "And here are albums nominated by only two people" etc.--maybe up to three to five people, depending on just how many people participated. That way if people want to see the more unusual choices that folks think highly of, they can zero in on those lists.
     
  24. Popmartijn

    Popmartijn Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Netherlands
    I have to say that the older I get the more enjoyment I have in hearing the production of '80s music. I wouldn't call it nostalgia as back in the day I wasn't much a fan of it. But I think time has been kind to quite some songs and sounds. Yes, the production on Rhythm Nation might date it firmly to the late '80s, but is that a bad thing? Other songs are clearly dated to the '60s, '70s or '90s (or beyond). In the end it's the song that counts.
    Rhythm Nation does have a very busy production. But again, I'm OK with that if the song is. And this one does sound like an anthem. I've always liked it. And as with others, even after having it heard countless times I still can't make out much of the lyrics. But that's OK, it's the sound that counts. And it's the sound of someone taking control (ha!), breaking free and establishing her own brand (or nation if you like).
    Yeah, I'm OK with this one appearing on such a top 500 list (even if I have some Janet Jackson songs I'd put above this one).
     
  25. Spy Car

    Spy Car Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Santana - Oye Como Va 5/5

    I'd move this one up in the list considerably. A classic!

    Bill
     
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