Janet Jackson’s video for Control opens with a scene in which she argues with her parents about leaving home. She’s seen a real cute apartment in Westwood, she says, but her dad’s having none of it and insists she shouldn’t be living by herself. Spurning her mum’s hot cooking, Janet flounces out. In many of her subsequent videos, we get to see where she’s living. But was she right to ignore her parents’ advice? How’s her housekeeping? Let’s find out…
Let’s Wait Awhile: Never mind Westwood CA, the next time we see Janet she’s in an expensive-looking apartment in New York. We get to see a bit of it when she’s not too busy protesting her virginity, and it looks nice and clean. But can she keep up the standard?
The Pleasure Principle: Janet’s moved into an enormous, ridiculous duplex warehouse conversion. There are four cars in her lounge! When she kicks over a chair and strides upstairs to the mezzanine floor we see, instead of a bed, a large sculpted arch, perhaps representing her own ‘pleasure principle’. And famously, her mirror is in shreds. Her mother would be disappointed.
2300 Jackson Street: Has Janet admitted defeat? Here she is back at home with her family. Although confusingly they’re her real parents and siblings, not the ones from the Control video. I’m going to have to discount this as improbable on the grounds of not being fictional enough.
Miss You Much: No fixed abode (she’s in rehearsals).
(I like the Wikipedia description for this one: “Jackson enters the room and her dancers look at her. One dancer asks Jackson what she has been up to. She calls them nosey, and then demonstrates her love through song and dance.”)
Rhythm Nation: No fixed abode (breaking into factories).
Escapade: No fixed abode (hanging around at a Mardi Gras).
Alright: In a shock twist at the end of this video, we see that Janet has become homeless and is sleeping on a bench, dreaming of the 1930s. Were her parents right after all? :-(
Come Back To Me: Seeking her fortune elsewhere, Janet’s now skulking around an apartment in Paris of all places. Open the drapes and the windows a bit love, it’s a nice day! I mean I know she’s depressed, wallowing in memories of her boyfriend and all, but even in the flashbacks they’re eating off the floor! One word: FURNITURE.
Black Cat: No fixed abode (she’s in performance).
Love Will Never Do Without You: No fixed abode (frolicking on a beach).
That’s The Way Love Goes: Back in a spacious American home, either Janet’s living in a commune or she’s throwing some sort of stoner party. I’d clear those people out, Janet, they’re helping themselves to your stuff and wearing your sofa leather out. And keep an eye on that J-Lo.
If: No fixed abode (pervy nightclub).
Again: Appropriately for perhaps Janet’s loveliest song, it’s her nicest home yet. All sundrenched with adobe walls, wicker furniture, white linen and an adorable boyfriend. The only moment that briefly startles us from the reverie is when he pulls a necklace out of her crotch.
Because of Love: No fixed abode (tour montage).
Any Time, Any Place: Janet’s back in an apartment block, playing at peephole voyeurism with the fella in the opposite flat, letting herself in and having it off in a red chair. If that weren’t debauched enough, she’s back to her old bad habits of eating off the floor.
You Want This: Perhaps thrown out of the last apartment for obvious reasons, Janet’s now living out of a suitcase in a motel, with a girl gang. They pass the time by driving around the desert in sports cars terrorising men. She has quite literally lost all sense of right or wrong.
Whoops Now: No fixed abode (boating in Anguilla).
Scream: Janet’s parents have clearly stepped in by this point. “It’s just gone too far, hasn’t it Janet? Time you moved in with your brother.” But what with Michael Jackson being a bonkers popstar too, they end up living on a spaceship. Despite its futuristic charms — anti-grav Zen garden, interactive sculptures, room full of guitars and all — neither of them seem happy and it’s no time at all before Janet’s trying to break the toilet by jumping on it and Michael’s smashing all the vases.
Runaway: Back in New York in a modest, happy apartment (there’s a bike by the window and a cute dog), Janet’s still in thrall to her wild urges and jumps out of the window, having developed some sort of superpower of leaping between continents. Is it time we accepted she’s not a natural homemaker?
Twenty Foreplay: No fixed abode (swanning about in Hollywood).
Got ’til it’s Gone: No fixed abode (putting things to rights in South Africa).
Together Again (Deeper Remix): Janet’s in a particularly lavish and beautiful apartment complex now. Well, lavish and beautiful as long as you don’t mind caterpillars crawling around everywhere.
I Get Lonely: No fixed abode. Wind tunnel & black bra.
Go Deep: What is Janet thinking?! She barges into a h0me-alone teenage boy’s house and holds a party! Disappointingly it turns out that she’s only done this in his dream, after he fell asleep fantasising about her. In this context the scene in which she and the lad both get covered in foam is most amusing. She’s like Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2.
Every Time: Hard to see the rest of the house, but she’s got a massive bath. Hopefully she won’t drown in it as Britney did in her own bath-based video for a song of the same name.
Doesn’t Really Matter: No fixed abode (getting freaky in Tokyo, although she sends a postcard home which we see going unread and trampled on).
All For You: No fixed abode (cartoon world with what appears to be a branch of Morrison’s in it).
Someone To Call My Lover: No fixed abode (on the road).
Son of a Gun: No fixed abode (on a voodoo rampage with Missy Elliott).
I Want You: No fixed abode (wandering through neighborhood).
All Nite (Don’t Stop): Further than ever from her mother’s dreams, Janet is seen living in a dirty squat with her new friends. They’ve got a good soundsystem, a lone sofa and a glitterball, but that’s about it.
Call on Me: No fixed abode (quinquereme with Nelly)
So Excited: Still living in a dirty squat, still kicking chairs over, and now Khia’s moved in too — her influence on Janet is all too clear, as she wanders around topless and has sex by a filthy urinal.
And that’s it. No subsequent Janet videos show us where she’s living. It’s 25 years since she turned her back on her parents, and this is where she ends up. Let’s remind ourselves of that fateful initial conversation, and let’s have a little think about our own life choices at the same time.