“Escapade”

’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Escapade”

The fourth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Escapade” by Janet Jackson, off her groundbreaking masterpiece Rhythm Nation 1814. “Escapade” was Jackson’s third career No. 1, and the third of what would become seven Top 5 singles released off 1814, a record she holds to this day. 1814 is the only album in history to send seven singles to the Top 5, and it’s one of only three albums to send seven singles to the Top 10. (The other two are Thriller by Janet’s brother Michael, and Born in The U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen.)

Statistics aside, what made songs like “Escapade” so special? Rhythm Nation 1814 was a concept album with distinct production by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, characterized by loud, crashing percussion, crisp phrasing and direct lyrical content. Most people who were around at the time associate the album with black-and-white imagery of Jackson in a military-inspired outfit and hat, although the “Escapade” video finds Jackson in full color, smiling and dancing in a manner fitting with this joyful song.

Have a listen:

“Escapade” has a classic, instantly memorable hook and a positive message that’s welcoming for anyone of any age to embrace. It’s happy without being cheesy.

Was it dope? Indubitably. Jackson was on a meteoric ride to legendary status at this time, and she could do no wrong. “Escapade” was a very smart third release from an album that contains some heavy material. It was refreshing, fun and let Jackson show off that one-of-a-kind smile.

Does it hold up? We think so, but we have to acknowledge that the fact that Rhythm Nation 1814 was a concept album with a distinct sound does date it somewhat. But for those willing to give the whole piece another listen, it stands up solidly. And, sadly, the messages on tracks like “State of the World” hold up just as true as they did more than 25 years ago.

Dopeness: 4 out of 5 Birkenstocks

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escapade
Janet Jackson
“Escapade”
3 weeks at No. 1 , starting March 3, 1990
Preceded by: “Opposites Attract,” Paula Abdul w/ The Wild Pair
Followed by: “Black Velvet,” Alannah Miles

’90s No. 1s Revisited is a regular feature on “Was It Dope?” where we walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?

– John

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