“That’s The Way Love Goes”

’90s No. 1s Revisited: “That’s The Way Love Goes”

The sixty-ninth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “That’s The Way Love Goes” by Janet Jackson. This track was the lead release off Jackson’s album janet., which spawned six Top 10 singles: “That’s The Way Love Goes” (No. 1), “If” (No. 4), “Again” (No. 1), “Because Of Love” (No. 10), “Any Time, Any Place” (No. 2, sharing an A-side credit in the U.S. with “And On And On“) and “You Want This” (No. 8, f/ MC Lyte, sharing an A-side credit with “70’s Love Groove“). The album was a departure from the buttoned-up, socially conscious, black-and-white, military-fashion style of the iconic Rhythm Nation 1814, and it shifted Jackson’s public image into the sex symbol arena.

“That’s The Way Love Goes” is a mellow, smooth jam with several suggestive lyrics, such as, “Ooh baby, don’t stop, don’t stop / Go deeper, baby, deeper / You feel so good I’m gonna cry.” She’s referring to intercourse.

Let’s listen to “That’s The Way Love Goes”:

If you listened to that, you bobbed your head. This is a fact. Because Jackson was known for up-tempo dance anthems and splashy, expensive videos, everything about the release of “That’s The Way Love Goes” was a surprise. But this track took off because it’s one of the best examples of a perfect merging of vocal performance, lyrical content and instrumental arrangement. It sounds like delicious food tastes. It also was decidedly post-’80s, confidently embracing the sexy R&B sound that was so popular and distinctive in the ’90s.

This clip was on very heavy rotation on MTV and VH1, and made a splash across Pop, R&B and even Dance formats. It was uncool to dislike this song.

Does it hold up? It does, because of its sophistication. Because the public’s taste isn’t quite in this R&B sphere right now, the track may sound a bit Old School, but in a reverent way, not a dismissive one.

Dopeness: 5 out of 5 Birkenstocks


Janet Jackson
“That’s The Way Love Goes”
8 weeks at No. 1, starting May 15, 1993
Preceded by: “Freak Me,” Silk
Followed by: “Weak,” SWV

’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?


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