First Hit #1: October 27, 1990
Janet Jackson has, for the most part, kept her singles squarely in the light pop mode, and she’s always used her vocals as something of texture. With Black Cat, she takes a new direction. In doing so, she takes a much more aggressive vocal posture. She’s doing things a lot different here, especially since she usually sells light dance pop. It’s not new territory for a Jackson, since it feels like a sister to Bad in some ways. It’s also not a complete rock transformation, possibly because still 1990, so there’s some synth bass happening because it was apparently law that all singles released needed synth bass somewhere. That sound does, at least, connected to Jackson’s pop past. It’s also a display of increased confidence for the singer, since she’s pushing herself much further vocally than ever before, and writing lyrics that are more aggressive than usual.
Yet, her voice is still buried in the mix – it’s like she’s at the bottom of a well made entirely of guitars – but I think it works here, since she’s trying to send a message to a no good lover and it’s not quite getting through. Maybe because all of the guitars are in the way, who knows.