Flashback Friday: Janet Jackson – Throb (Saturday Night Live performance) | When Janet sang about dick on national television
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Now, I am sure that I am not the only person who has continually thought that Janet Jackson’s “Throb” should have been made a worldwide promotional single. Not that the Janet album needed any additional pushes, given the solid singles run that it had. But “Throb” really shoulda have gotten the full single treatment, with a slew of televised performances and a music video. Although, whilst “Throb” didn’t get the latter, it did get at least once televised performance on Saturday Night Live.Utter adoration of “Throb” set aside, I fully understand why a big ol’ record label like Virgin may not have felt comfortable releasing it as worldwide promotional single. The song was filthy. The title is one thing. But the song features Janet moaning throughout, and the few lyrics the song does have are all explicitly about wet pussy and a throbbing dick. “Throb” not having much in the way of lyrics or a standard song structure may have also been a factor. Although the singles charts throughout the early 90s were full of club and house record which had few lyrics, instrumental passages, and didn’t follow a conventional song structure. So I’m leaning toward the explicitness of the song being the main reason Virgin were like ‘Let’s just give it a limited release in a couple of markets’. Because there was simply no way you could edit the song to be more radio friendly. Although that didn’t stop it hitting number 2 on the US and UK Dance charts, which is an indication of the distance the song could have gone had it been released worldwide as a fully fledged single.
But whilst “Throb” didn’t get to be a SINGLE single, it’s still managed enjoyed a level of longevity of love from fans and club music fans, almost like it was. And the queer community (especially the Black queer community) keep “Throb” in rotation. Clubs still play it. Choreographers still teach routines to it. Ballroom DJ’s still spin it at functions.
The Black queer community has always embraced Janet Jackson and felt seen by her. But “Throb” felt like more than Janet just ‘seeing’ the community. It felt like a love letter of sorts. And one which was so steeped in graciousness, because she’s not even centred in the song or performances of it – which also gave the sense that Janet did more than see. She got it. She understood it. She wasn’t trying to give the girls a commercialised version of what they were already fucking with in the clubs. She was giving them a through and through club record, that they could take and claim, and claim it they did.
As for the performance. Janet was doing a lot whilst looking like she wasn’t doing much at all. The looks were fashion forward. Music videos were giving all of these looks for pop stars and dancers in the 2000s. Shit. We still even get them now on occasion. And for Janet to go on big ol’ SNL with her hair in doo-doo plaits? The style Black girls ended up going to school with and were TIRED of!? And to be whipping those doo-doo plaits to a song about wanting to get pounded by big dick, on national television, to a club record of a sound that the homosexuals were all living for
The girls truly ain’t doing it like this any more. Janet has always been that bitch. She is an icon for a whole bunch of reasons.