’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Again”
The seventy-fourth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Again” by Janet Jackson, the fifth of Jackson’s six chart-toppers in the ’90s, and the slowest and most gentle of the lot. Featured on the soundtrack to Jackson’s film Poetic Justice, as well as on the janet. album, “Again” is a tender, expressive piano ballad about post-breakup fears of commitment, and potentially overcoming them.
Jackson was undergoing a public persona transformation in 1993, with each release from janet. covering a different angle of romance and sex. The lead single, “That’s The Way Love Goes,” explored femininity and sensuality, while “If,” the follow-up, celebrated a more aggressive sexuality. With “Again,” the third release, Jackson embraced vulnerability and tenderness. Subsequent releases would tackle joy (“Because Of Love“), exhibitionism (“Any Time, Any Place“) and empowerment (“You Want This“). Whether the way we’ve described it here was at all premeditated or just a natural outcome of artistic exploration, who knows. But the result is the same: Jackson came away from janet. as one of the world’s most fascinating and exciting public figures.
Let’s hear “Again” again:
Jackson doesn’t have the pipes of a Whitney Houston or a Mariah Carey, so song selection and production are critical parts of her creative process. In the wrong hands, Jackson could get dwarfed. On “Again,” we see just the opposite — a track whose instrumental is so light and sparse that the best aspects of her vocal talents are given space to emerge. Unfortunately, though, “Again” doesn’t have a climax, or even a proper chorus, making the track about as exciting as the sound of wind chimes. The most interesting part is the string arrangement in the last 20 seconds, which is glorious and goosebump-inducing. But, overall, it’s sweet but somewhat disposable.
Was it dope? It was OK, but not a big hit internationally. In fact, it didn’t top the charts anywhere but the United States. But Jackson was certainly dope, and in 1993 could do no wrong.
Does it hold up? We don’t think anyone today is clamoring to hear “Again,” especially in light of Jackson’s catalog of more interesting tracks that would better satisfy a fan.
Dopeness: 3 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?