Janet Jackson – Escapade

First Hit #1: March 3, 1990

Escapade has possibly the strongest vocal Janet Jackson has had grace the top of the chart. She’s strong, she’s the focus of the song, she’s still having fun but she’s the driving force, instead of another part of the arrangement, a piece in the whole. This is good, because the arrangement is probably the nadir of the synthesizer.

That’s harsh, I admit, but it’s a song that throws every bad idea from the past ten years at the wall, seemingly in an attempt to use everything before it quite literally goes out of style. So we’ve got thin drums, those annoying tinkling bells, and a sound that feels like a small child banging on the entire Casio display. They must have known the market was slowly going back to “real”* instruments and banks of keyboards were going out, because this is an attempt to justify clinging to the old rules.

Now that banks of keyboards are in, it still sounds pretty bad actually. A remix could fix it.

*I put real in quotes because synthesizers are real instruments, in that they exist and you can make music on them. The distinction is more in how some people perceive different instruments, since I know there are people who think that things which synthesize are less “real” than things which cause vibrations through manipulating strings, air flow, and all the things I missed. It’s just a way to separate different categories, no disrespect to synthesizers, used correctly they’re rad.

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One Response to Janet Jackson – Escapade

  1. RBerman says:

    I agree with everything except the “thin drums” part. This era of music was more like an arms race for the most in-your-face dance percussion tracks, and twenty years on, it sounds to me like the echoey fake snare drum was the song’s biggest selling point. That, and Janet’s dazzling smile; this was still the era when videos sold albums. Also; 4:47. Pop songs continue to get longer, but this one doesn’t wear out its welcome.

    The lyrics seem more comforting than sultry; despite the many “babys,” it sounds like she’s going on a road trip with a female friend rather than a long date with a man.

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