Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 - Release and Promotion

Release and Promotion

When A&M released the album's lead single "Miss You Much" to radio in August 1989, the label issued a press statement announcing "ocial themes run throughout much of the material" on Jackson's fourth studio album. A 30-minute long-form music video, Rhythm Nation 1814, was produced to promote the album, which aired on MTV prior to release. The video was referred to as a "telemusical" and featured a compilation of the album's songs. The film project had a budget of $1.6 million. Jackson worked with director Dominic Sena, executive video producer René Elizondo, Jr., and production designer Vance Lorenzini. Jackson and Sena developed a full screenplay centered around two boys whose dreams of pursuing a music career together are ruined because one of them becomes a victim of substance abuse. Shot on location in Los Angeles, Sena referred to the shoot as the "1814 Project" to keep the general public unaware that Jackson was filming on the streets of LA. He also revealed: "Her brother Michael came by one day, but it was purely on a personal level. He didn't come onto the set. He saw some rough cuts of what we were doing and remarked that he liked them, but he never interfered. He knew this was Janet's project." Jefferson Graham of USA Today commented: "Michael Jackson's kid sister is taking her brother's approach to video ... Like Michael, she dances up a storm in the moody black-and-white video's three songs—Miss You Much, Rhythm Nation and The Knowledge—wears military-like attire and plays the role of a mystical figure to young kids." Jon Pareles remarked that it "juxtaposes her dance routines with grim urban imagery and a plot line about drugs versus dreams; it's like a sequel to Michael Jackson's "Bad" video." Gender and Qualitative Methods (2003) documents: "The choreography suggests self-control and military discipline ... The factory environment, the black-and-white scenery and the choreography hinting at Asian martial arts, underline the atmosphere of remorseless determination."

Released on September 19, 1989, the album debuted at number 28 on the Billboard 200 and 87 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and rose steadily to the number one position on both charts. It remained at number one on the Billboard 200 for four consecutive weeks and sold three million copies within the first four months of its release. In November 1989, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album gold, denoting 500,000 unit shipments within the United States. This number rose to a platinum certification, denoting 1,000,000 units, and double platinum by the end of the year. By the end of 1992, it was certified sixfold platinum by the RIAA. As of 1998, the album had sold over 14 million copies worldwide. The film was released to VHS in October 1989, and re-issued as Rhythm Nation 1814 compilation in November 1990 following the release of the album's final single; the re-issue features all music videos produced for the album. Both versions of the video release earned double platinum certification by the RIAA. The film has sold over four million copies worldwide.

The lead single "Miss You Much" became the first of four to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The single hit number one in October 1989 and topped the chart for four weeks. It also topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Dance Club Songs. The single was certified platinum by the RIAA in November 1989. According to Radio & Records magazine, "Miss You Much" was the number one radio hit of 1989. Selling over four million copies worldwide, it was named by TIME magazine as the second best-selling single of the year behind "Another Day in Paradise" by Phil Collins. The album's second single and title-track, "Rhythm Nation", peaked at number two on the Hot 100, kept from the number one position by "Another Day in Paradise". Stephen Holden of The New York Times referred to the song as " militantly utopian dance-floor exhortation ... the song calls for racial harmony and cooperative struggle to create a better, stronger world." It also topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Dance Club Songs and earned gold certification by the RIAA in January 1990. "Escapade" became the second single to top the Hot 100, in addition to reaching number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Dance Club Songs. It was certified gold in May 1990.

"Alright" peaked at number four on the Hot 100, at number two on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and became the fourth and final single to top the Hot Dance Club Songs. It was certified gold in June 1990. In the corresponding music video for "Alright", Jackson pays homage to early 20th century Broadway theatre; cameo appearances are made by Cab Calloway and Cyd Charisse. "Come Back to Me" peaked at number two on the Hot 100. "Black Cat" reached number one on October 27, 1990, six weeks after its September 15 debut, and was certified gold on November 13. "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" became the seventh and final single to be released off the album on November 6, 1990; it rose to number one on January 19, 1991, topping the chart for one week. The single was certified gold on February 12. "State of the World" was released on radio airplay but not as a commercial single, as A&M executives felt the album would garner high sales if there was a song receiving airplay that was not commercially available.

In September 1990, Jackson received two MTV Music Video Award nominations; Best Dance Video and Best Choreography for Rhythm Nation (co-nominated with choreographer Anthony Thomas), winning Best Choreography. In addition, she received the MTV Video Vanguard Award, regarded as MTV's highest honor.

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