Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” is a timeless classic that has stood the test of time. It was released on April 20, 1993, as the lead single from Janet’s fifth studio album. The song marked a significant turning point in Jackson’s career as she transitioned from the high-energy pop and dance tracks she had become known for to a more laid-back R&B sound. “That’s The Way Love Goes” was an instant hit, spending eight weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and earning Jackson a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.
Over the past 30 years, “That’s The Way Love Goes” has become a cultural touchstone and a milestone in the history of R&B music. Its influence has been felt in countless other songs and artists, and it continues to resonate with fans, old and new. In this article, we will explore 30 reasons and milestones that made Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” a classic, from its groundbreaking music video to its impact on the evolution of R&B and the celebration of Black culture.
- “That’s the Way Love Goes” was well received by contemporary music critics, praised for its sonic innovation and departure, evolving to an edgier and sensual style.
- The song is credited as one of the first downtempo songs to become a mainstream pop hit.
- The tune brilliantly blended downtempo, hip-hop, funk, and R&B sounds, which turned into an international pop hit.
- Janet Jackson and her record label chose “If” as the first single from the janet. album until she was persuaded by Chuck D from Public Enemy to release “That’s The Way Love Goes” first. It must be noted that Janet’s collaborators, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, suggested that TTWLG should be the song introducing Janet’s new album.
- “That’s The Way Love Goes” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks, meaning that it was the most popular song in America for two months. It also topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart for four weeks.
- “That’s The Way Love Goes” is the first and only song to debut on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart at #1. It is the only song that garnered 100% support from R&B radio stations across America.
- TTWLG debuted at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 before hitting #1 a few weeks later. Almost 30 years earlier, the Beatles debuted with a song higher on the same chart.
- Remixes of the hit single helped the tune top Billboard’s Dance Singles chart for nine weeks.
- The song distinguishes itself as the longest-running #1 song by a member of the famous Jackson family. That includes Michael, Jermaine, LaToya, Rebbie, 3T, and The Jacksons/Jackson 5.
- “That’s The Way Love Goes” topped the Hot 100 Airplay for ten weeks, meaning it was the most-played song on American radio for ten weeks.
- The hit single also topped the music charts in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, South Africa, Japan, and Europe-wide.
- “That’s The Way Love Goes” remains any female musician’s best-selling single in South Africa.
- The song won the Grammy for Best R&B Song, among other awards from various music organizations.
- The tune (re)introduced Generation X to the James Brown classic “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” and The Honey Drippers’ “Impeach The President,” of which “That’s The Way Love Goes” sampled, upon its 1993 release.
- Janet almost passed on recording TTWLG when receiving the instrumental from collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. She changed her mind after taking the tape with the instrumental on vacation and listening to it several times when inspired to write lyrics for the track.
- Artists of various genres sampled “That’s The Way Love Goes,” including Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child, Freddie Gibbs, Paul Wall, and Hikaru Utada.
- Kirk Whalum’s and Norman Brown’s covers became instant classics in the modern jazz genre and dominated smooth jazz radio stations worldwide.
- Notable covers of “That’s The Way Love Goes” were recorded by Bruno Mars, MNEK, NSync, and Sharon Forrester.
- NSync recreated Jackson’s TTWLG music video in a memorable tribute to the pop music queen’s “ICON,” MTV’s concert series that celebrates pop and rock music influences on modern-day mainstream music.
- The music video is iconic within popular culture, being the first glimpse of Jackson’s seductive and adult image, in contrast to the suits, loose uniforms, and military ensemble she was previously known for. The transition is highly regarded and commended by many critics.
- The LA Times stated about the music video, “Jackson’s svelte figure is poured into black bell bottoms and crop tops. She wears silver hoop earrings and wide cream and silver chokers that have sent adolescents streaming into stores asking for ‘Janet Jackson necklaces.'”
- PopMatters commended the music video’s choreography as “sinuous seduction” and praised the video’s overall concept.
- Robert Christgau considered TTWLG among Jackson’s videos, which displayed “a gender equality that’s almost progressive by video’s pitiful male-chauvinist standards” due to Jackson’s dominance over her male counterparts, in which two male dancers compete for her and seven female dancer’s attention.
- “That’s the Way Love Goes” was nominated for Best Dance Video, Best Choreography, and Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.
- “That’s the Way Love Goes” is among Jackson’s signature songs, recognized for its vocals, innovation, and timeless aura. It was considered an alternative to popular radio trends and an essential part of Jackson’s artistic growth, signifying a massive shift in her music and image.
- The song has been cited as an inspiration by Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, Nelly Furtado, MNEK, and Destiny’s Child.
- The L.A. Times considered it “one of the most endearing pieces of romantic pop confection of the ’90s” and “the most seductive slice of daydream romanticism in years.”
- Slant Magazine called TTWLG “sleek, smart, and sexy — everything you didn’t expect from the lead single from a Janet album.”
- AllMusic qualified “That’s The Way Love Goes” as both “sultry” and “hypnotic.”
- The New York Times declared the song to profoundly affect clubs, saying “love was in the air, as couples lapped it up and slinked along to the beat.”
In conclusion, Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” holds a special place in the hearts of music lovers worldwide. It marked a pivotal moment in her career and the evolution of R&B music. From its sultry, laid-back beats to its iconic music video, “That’s The Way Love Goes” is a testament to Jackson’s talent and influence in the music industry.
As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of this classic song, it’s essential to acknowledge its impact on the cultural landscape and its enduring legacy. Its influence can be seen in the work of countless artists following in Jackson’s footsteps, and its message of love and sensuality remains relevant today. Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” will always be a timeless classic cherished for generations.