’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Love Will Never Do (Without You)”
The twenty-eighth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” by Janet Jackson. This song was significant in many ways. As the seventh (and final) single released off Rhythm Nation 1814, this song sustained the album’s relevance into its third calendar year, as “Miss You Much,” the first single, had been released a year and a half earlier in the summer of 1989. Second, the video for this song, famously shot by Herb Ritts, is credited with transitioning Jackson’s public image from buttoned-up to flirtatious. She would go on to explore sexuality much more explicitly on, well, everything she’s released since.
“Love” became Jackson’s fifth No. 1 song, and her 12th Top 5, all collected during a relatively short time period, from 1986 to 1991. After “Love,” Jackson went on to have five more No. 1 songs: three in the ’90s, and two in the ’00s.
Let’s give “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” a fresh listen:
It’s amazing to think that whoever was in charge of such things saved this song for the seventh single. It’s probably the best track on the album. The production stays in line with the record’s signature industrial sound, and the theme of romantic need serves as a perfect echo to “Miss You Much.” Janet explores a much wider vocal range on this track than she had previously, demonstrating her lower-register abilities during the verses. It’s almost off-putting at first, but it emphasizes the exceptional level of her talent as a singer in her own right.
The rock-solid songwriting here underlined the mastery of this classic album, which is stellar from start to finish. And the softer feminine image in the video put Jackson in a new light to fans.
Does it hold up? Like everything off this album, “Love” is a bit dated because the production on 1814 was so distinct and stylized. But it’s still a great song we love to listen to today!
Dopeness: 5 out of 5 Birkenstocks
’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?