"That's the Way Love Goes" is a song by Janet Jackson from her fifth studio album Janet. The single was released on April 20, 1993. It was written and produced by Janet and Jam & Lewis.
The single saw her transitioning to sensual territory and themes of romantic lust, considered a shocking contrast among critics and the public.
The song's slow tempo fused pop, R&B, and funk with flourishes of downtempo music. It received positive reception from contemporary music critics, who praised it as "iconic" "hypnotic" and an "extravaganza" for its production and vocals.
The song became Janet's biggest hit to date and was the longest-reigning hit of the year, peaking atop the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks, also reaching number one on the Hot 100 Airplay for ten weeks and multiple weeks on Billboard's component charts.
The song became the first and only single in history to debut at number one on the Hot R&B Airplay chart.
Internationally, the song placed at number one in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Hungary, South Africa, Japan, and Europe's Hot 100 Singles chart.
It is the eighteenth biggest hit of the nineties and the biggest selling single by a female artist in South Africa.
"That's the Way Love Goes" received a Grammy Award for Best R&B song in addition to Billboard Awards, BMI Pop Award for Most Played Song, BPI Sales Awards, American Music Awards, and Soul Train Awards.
The song's accompanying music video received several nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards, winning "Best Female Video." It has sold over three million copies worldwide.
"That's the Way Love Goes" has been covered by artists such as Bruno Mars and 'N Sync, cited as an influence by Britney Spears and Nelly Furtado & inspired or been sampled in songs by Alicia Keys, Destiny's Child and Utada Hikaru.
The song's music video has influenced several videos, including releases from Ciara and Prince.
It is considered among Janet's signature songs along with "Nasty", "Rhythm Nation", "Together Again", "All for You" and several others.
The song's video was directed by René Elizondo, Jr. in March of 1993.
Set in a loft, Janet is depicted amongst friends and is persuaded to play her new single.
She plays the song, briefly interrupted by a dancer who pauses it to express her approval.
The song resumes while Janet and company begin to dance, ending with her talking and joking amongst her dancers. The video was choreographed by Tina Landon.
To build anticipation, a promotional advertisement was aired on music channels for several weeks prior to the video's premiere, depicting Janet narrating and introducing her dancers from behind a camera lens.
The video is iconic within popular culture, being the first glimpse of Janet's seductive and adult image, in contrast to the bulky uniforms and military ensemble she was previously known for.
The transition first began with prior video "Love Will Never Do (Without You)," portraying Janet's newly-svelte figure and midriff-baring style, becoming her trademark image and iconic within entertainment.
The song was nominated for "Best Dance Video" and "Best Choreography" at the MTV Video Music Awards, winning the award for "Best Female Video."
The music video is featured on the janet. and "Design of a Decade" video compilations, special edition edition of "All for You" and "From janet." to "Damita Jo: The Videos." Behind the scenes footage of its filming was also released.
An alternate "One Take Version" focusing solely on Janet appears exclusively on the janet. video compilation.
The video is also infamous for introducing a then-unknown Jennifer Lopez, who appeared as a backing dancer and had a spoken line in the video's opening dialogue.
She credits Janet as her inspiration to enter the entertainment industry, saying:
"When I saw the "Pleasure Principle" [video] it inspired me to get into this business" and "I can also never forget the magnificent Janet Jackson as she is a big inspiration for all my dance and music videos."
Music Video ReceptionEdit
Janet's previous video "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" was the "first inkling" of the contrasted image developed with the release of janet. and "That's the Way Love Goes."
The transition is regarded as iconic and commended by many critics. Maureen Sajbel of The LA Times stated Janet abandoned "the masculine clothes," becoming "refined and softened to a model-perfect feminine image."
Sajbel wrote "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."
Entertainment Weekly declared it Janet's earliest foray into being "not just a cherubic pop star but a confident, self-sufficient and sexy grown-up," calling the "slinky, body-revealing" video "the first volley."
PopMatters commended its choreography as "sinuous seduction" and praised its concept, saying:
"The video for “That’s the Way Love Goes” once again showcases Janet and her friends, but this time the portrait is much more sensual and relaxed. When this video was released, Janet had been out of the public eye for several years. The video gave hungry fans a fresh eyeful of a radiant, sexy-looking Janet, murmuring a tribute to the joys of physical love."
Idolator also applauded Janet's evolution, exclaiming:
"Ms. Jackson had finally shed her bulky “Rhythm Nation” uniform in exchange for a midriff baring top and a choker, long before anyone would associate her name with the words “wardrobe malfunction."
The clip was thought to be "the most accessible version of the star the public had ever seen."
Foster Kamer of Complex declared it a "really simple formula" and "decidely lo-fi" in comparison to Jackson's "high-tech repertoire."
Described as "just a bunch of ladies, kicking it in Janet's loft, dancing around to music," the clip was praised as "all at once golden" for Jackson's "power of seemingly limitless charisma, especially when metered out and not unleashed full-force."
The publication concluded "And yet: Janet oozes sexuality as she dances with the ladies around the apartment, leaning on walls, looking up at the ceiling, possibly thinking thoughts about her then-husband René Elizondo Jr."
Robert Christgau considered it among Janet's videos which displayed "a gender equality that's almost progressive by video's pitiful male-chauvinist standards" due to her dominance over her male counterparts, in which two male dancers compete for her and seven female dancer's attention.
The LA Times stated the clip's premise of "Jackson lounging with her pals" succeeds at "seeming offhandedly sexy in a very shrewd way."
MusicOMH considered it "a sultry start" into Janet's new image with her seen dancing "up against a pillar."
Feminist website Jezebel considered Janet "loud, fierce and mouthy" in the video, in contrast to her "usually so soft-spoken" persona.
The New York Times observed "the bump" dance to resurface among youth and clubs "now that Janet Jackson does it in her new video."
Awards & NominationsEdit
The song received a Grammy Award for "Best R&B Song" and was also nominated for "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance."
It received a BMI Pop Award for "Most Played Song," various Billboard awards, and sales awards internationally.
Sirius XM's Cosmo Radio listed it among the "top 10 most requested, super-sexy songs of all time," selected by "male and female listeners and celebrity guests."
In 2012, VH1 included "That's the Way Love Goes" in a list of songs thought to induce thoughts of sex and passion.
In 2009, AOL Radio ranked it number seven in a list of ten "Best Sex Songs."
It was included in Blender's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born," also ranked among VH1's "Greatest Songs of the '90s" in 2012.
|List of awards for "That's the Way Love Goes"|
The song was well received by contemporary music critics, praised for its sonic innovation and departure, evolving to an edgier and sensual style.
David Browne of Entertainment Weekly described it as "gently percolating pop" and "easygoing," with another critique stating "the sexy lyrical composition blends well with the seductively arranged harmony of the song."
Rolling Stone described the song as a "warm bed of soul sounds."
The publication praised Janet's approach to sexuality, writing:
"Jackson evades reductive sexuality by demanding love and respect from both her partner and herself. She wants you to touch her, and love's got to do with it because "that's the way love goes." Janet won't stand for a trade-off — she wants love and sex."
Amazon called it "extremely slinky" while Alex Henderson of AllMusic qualified it as both "sultry" and "hypnotic."
Billboard considered the song an adult affair in comparison to Janet's prior releases, saying:
"Janet leaves the flirting to the kids and instead lets her guard down for her lover ("Come closer baby closer / reach out and feel my body.")."
The L.A. Times described "That's the Way Love Goes" as "one of the most endearing pieces of romantic pop confection of the '90s," adding "the song is a highlight of Jackson's latest and best album, "janet.," a "silky collection" exploring "questions of sexual awakening and desire with a classy sense of pop craft and convincing passion."
The publication also stated:
"Summer pop doesn't get any smoother or more seductive," likening its quality as unheard for several decades, adding: "You might have to go all the way back to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles or, even, the Drifters to find summer pop as silky and as inviting as this." Vibe called it "cool, sensual, simple."
It was labeled an "appealing midtempo number" with Janet's vocals performed in a "lilt" technique.
PopCrush classified the "ultra-smooth jam" as both "sultry and deep."
Glenn Gamboa of Newsday declared "After two straight smash albums and a dozen immediate hits, Jackson takes a left turn," ultimately "focusing on vibe and groove and making the most of her voice."
The song was considered one of several which displayed how Janet "blossomed into a beautiful young woman" described as "a slow burn of a groove led by her sensual whisper" complete with "slinky guitars" revealing a hidden side of her persona.
MTV considered it "sultry, slow-burning" and also labeled the song "supple" and "sensual." Elsewhere, the song was considered a "gentle love ballad."
An additional review stated:
"That's the Way Love Goes" and the janet. album "shattered any illusions the public still held that Janet remained a little girl. Filled with sexual desires and adult fantasies, Janet broke boundaries but still managed to channel her desires into chart-topping hits."
Janet performed a medley of "That's the Way Love Goes" and "If" at the MTV Video Music Awards.
The song was performed along with "Because of Love" on MTV's New Year's Eve special. It was also performed on Top of the Pops and French entertainment show "Les Années Tubes."
She later performed the song on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" during promotion for "20 Y.O." and "Good Morning America" upon the release of her tenth album Discipline.
It has been performed on each of her following tours, including the janet. Tour, The Velvet Rope Tour, All for You Tour, Rock Witchu Tour and Number Ones: Up Close and Personal.
Jackson's performance medley at the MTV Video Music Awards is often regarded among the most infamous and intricate performances of her career.
Complex included it among "The 25 Sexiest Moments in VMA History," commenting:
"when Britney and Christina were busy dealing with midterms and acne, Janet Jackson was the queen of bringing sexy to the VMA stage. Though it'd no doubt be considered tame by today's standards, Janet's exposed stomach and bra made for the hottest performance of the year."
Another critique found it "on point, going from sexy to high energy and intricacy" considered "easily one of her best performances, and one that most pop chicks should study."
Queerty titled it the second best performance in the show's history, commending its "dance break by which all dance breaks will be forever judged."
It was introduced by actor Christian Slater, who declared Janet to have "the sexiest bellybutton I've ever seen."
A studio version appears on the limited edition version of janet., while remixes entitled the "CJ FXTC Club Mix" and "CJ FXTC Bass Hit Dub" appear on janet. Remixed.
The song's performance on the janet. World Tour was regarded among its "most affecting moments" as Janet "returned for the encore in just a flannel shirt and jeans."
On "Number Ones, Up Close and Personal," a review stated:
"In fact, the more blissful the hook, the tighter she wrapped the song around her - somehow squeezing the breezy sensuality out of “That’s the Way Love Goes” without suffocating it."
Various artists have been inspired by the song's production, aura, and opening segment as well as the music video's "laid back" dance environment.
It has been covered by artists such as Bruno Mars and 'N Sync.
Britney Spears cited "That's the Way Love Goes" as the inspiration for "Touch of My Hand," appearing on Spears' fourth album "In the Zone," saying: "I like to compare it to 'That's the Way Love Goes,' kind of a Janet Jackson thing."
Additionally, MuuMuse likened the spoken word introduction of Britney's song "Am I A Sinner" to a similar opening segment in Janet's song.
Britney included "That's the Way Love Goes" in a playlist for Z100's Reality Radio, commenting: "This is one of my favorite songs ever. I love this girl. She has the coolest abs in the world."
The whispered introduction in the "Bluelight Version" of Alicia Keys' song "Girl on Fire" references the opening refrain of "That's the Way Love Goes."
A lyric comparable to the song's introduction was noted in Madonna's "Turn Up the Radio" with similar opening lines also used in Wynter Gordon's "Stimela" and Jennifer Lopez's "Step Into My World."
Destiny's Child's song "Nuclear", a Neptunes production included on the compilation Love Songs, was likened to an "early ’90s, “That’s The Way Love Goes”-style Janet Jackson mold" for its "sampled beat recalling the best of ’90s hip-pop," also compared for its "mellow, soothing lyrics over churning hip-hop beats."
Nelly Furtado cited Jackson as the inspiration for the transition displayed with her third album "Loose," saying:
"Janet Jackson came out with "That's the Way Love Goes," and she was comfortable in her sexuality and womanhood and that was inspiring to me."
Pitchfork likened Ciara's "This is What Love Is", appearing on the album "Basic Instinct" to "a trance-inspired take on the breathy spoken word of Janet Jackson's vastly superior "That's the Way Love Goes."
Kat DeLuna stated: "This song made me want to pursue music!"
Sampled elements of "That's the Way Love Goes" are heard in guitar riffs throughout the chorus in the "Underwater Mix" of Japanese singer Utada Hikaru's "Addicted to You."
Yahoo! Music considered Mariah Carey and Miguel's song "#Beautiful" "one of the most appealing summer jams since Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes."
Janet has evoked the song's feel in several recordings, with People Magazine describing several cuts on Damita Jo reminiscent of its "lush sensual rush."
The song "Feels So Right" from All for You was likened to the song for its mellow feel.
Several subsequent music videos or albums have drawn influence from the video's intimate party setting.
Buzzfeed likened the overall feel of Jhené Aiko's debut EP "Sail Out" to the "kickback" ambiance of the "That's the Way Love Goes" video, "but while sitting in clouds of smoke rather than dancing."
Scenes in Ciara's "Body Party" video were influenced by the video's "laid-back" setting as well as Janet's song "Go Deep."
Ciara's performance at the 2013 BET Awards was thought to be inspired by Jackson's performance of the song at the MTV Video Music Awards.
The opening setting of Ciara's "Never Ever" (featuring Young Jeezy) was also observed to be similar.
The setting, choreography, and wardrobe worn by lead dancer Danielle Curiel in Prince's "Breakfast Can Wait" video were observed to have a similar feel to Jackson's "That's the Way Love Goes" and "If" videos.
Curiel commented "After “Breakfast Can Wait” came out everyone said it reminded them of those videos, so I went and watched them on YouTube I could definitely see the similarities."
The "throw back" style of Toni Braxton's "Make My Heart" video was described as reminiscent of the clip.
Jessi Malay cited Jackson's "confident, sexy" and "in control" image in the video as an influence, saying "Janet is a female artist who has gotten the message out that you can be a commanding woman without losing your femininity and sexuality."
Critics have observed elements similar to the video's somber vibe and infamous setting in several films and television series.
A golden-hued setting from the film Spartacus: Vengeance was compared to the video by Logo's The Backlot.
The locale in an episode of American Horror Story: Coven titled "Fried Chicks" was likened to the video, with Vulture.com saying "Fiona is having her hair done on the set of “That’s the Way Love Goes."
Janet's black ensemble during this period were prominent influences in fashion. In 2011, Elle Magazine described a Catherine Malandrino black dress as reminiscent of her outfit worn in the clip.
Song in Popular CultureEdit
Several celebrities and musicians have praised the song and its video.
Robin Thicke revealed Janet to be his first celebrity crush, saying " the video for “That’s the Way Love Goes,” my friends and I would watch that and be like, Whoa."
In 2011, Simon Cowell stated: "I love Janet Jackson’s That’s the Way Love Goes" when asked who was the most played artist on his iPod.
Tyra Banks included it in a playlist for iTunes, calling it "great for a photo shoot when you're all wrapped up in white sheets and need to portray sex."
Christina Aguilera included it among her favorite songs on her APE radio station. Kim Kardashian also tweeted praise for the song.
In 2011, Christina Milian mentioned it as one of her favorite songs, commenting, "I thought she was so hot, and I wanted to be like her."
Diplo's artist Benzi included a remix in a mix released for the "Diplo and Friends" series.
DJ Stylus obtained the knowledge of assembling "the right combination of people" and playing "the right tunes" at shows from the song's music video, saying "I think that idea was first planted in my mind by this video."
DJ AM played the song by request during Lindsay Lohan's twenty-second birthday.
Song Legacy & ImpactEdit
"That's the Way Love Goes" is among Janet's signature songs, recognized for its vocals, innovation and "timeless" aura.
It was considered an alternative to popular radio trends and essential part of her artistic growth, signifying a massive shift in her music and image.
It has been cited as an inspiration by artists & groups such as Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, Nelly Furtado and Destiny's Child.
The song is ranked among Blender's "500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born," placing at number four in VH1's "Greatest Songs of the '90s" in 2012.
Yahoo! Music described it as a "silky, sultry, and iconic smash that sounds as good today as it did in 1993," adding "it went all the way to the top of Billboard's Hot 100 where it remained for eight weeks."
Billboard praised its structure and longevity, saying:
"That indelible refrain: "Like a moth to the flame / burned by the fire / my love is blind / can't you see my desire?" That slinky Jam & Lewis beat. Even at 20 years old, this Janet jam can still ignite any house party, much like the one in its music video."
The publication exclaimed it to be "a sexual awakening for both Jackson and American culture"; classified as one of "the most sexually frank to reach the upper reaches of the charts at the time."
The L.A. Times considered it "one of the most endearing pieces of romantic pop confection of the '90s" as well as "the most seductive slice of daydream romanticism in years."
GuidetoGay called it "equally sexy" as her image, "but unlike Madonna’s ‘Erotica’, ‘janet.’ left more to the imagination While most expected her to return with an in-your-face dance track, Jackson “eased in the side door” with a more soulful groove. The music video was equally laid back, showing Jackson chilling with her dancers - one of whom was a then unknown Jennifer Lopez."
CNN stated the song memorably "set the mood for a sultry summer" while Vulture.com recalled it "slinked its way easily onto summer mix tapes."
Additionally, it was declared "the epitome of bedroom slow-jams," among the album's "several iconic hits" which helped define the decade.
Newsday considered "That's the Way Love Goes" among Jackson's singles which "changed the course of pop," applauding the "all-purpose, feel-good hit," saying:
"unlike most summer anthems, "That's the Way Love Goes" doesn't have a gimmick. It's just straight-up cool. [...] It got heads bobbin' in countless cars. It filled dance floors with folks finger- pointing along with the chorus. It became an essential part of the soundtrack to barbecues and beach parties. With its laid-back beat and Jackson's sultry- sweet vocals, it doesn't get you excited as much as puts a smile on your face, which may explain why it was never grating despite its omnipresence."
Gold Stripe Magazine stated:
"When we think of the 90s, we think of baggy boyfriend jeans, crop tops, big hair, and house parties. Janet Jackson was one woman who defined the decade. On the scene, she was the total package: sexy, talented, and a softspoken sweetheart."
Song Covers and SamplesEdit
The song has been sampled & covered by various artists such as:
- Bruno Mars performed a live cover of "That's the Way Love Goes" at the Chelsea Theater in Las Vegas in January 2014. Mars previously covered the song while performing at the Playboy Mansion two years prior.
- British producer MNEK released a cover of "That's the Way Love Goes" in April 2013, saying "Janet Jackson is just the queen, and it requires no debate. All rights go to Janet, Jam + Lewis and anyone else who was involved. whoever [else] is probably irrelevant simply cos Janet Jackson, and Jam + Lewis are just better than everything and everyone. That's all.'" The cover reconstructs the song using Jackson's vocals in addition to his own.
- "That's the Way Love Goes" was sampled in Freddie Gibbs' "4681 Broadway." Paul Wall's "That's the Way Luv Goes," Dizzy Wright's "Welcome Home," Kid Sensation's "I Gotta Lotta Love," Charles Hamilton's "Strangers with Candy" and Joey Bada$$'s "Don't Quit Your Day Job"
- Cle Wootton performed the song on the first season of Australian Idol.
- 'N Sync covered "That's the Way Love Goes" and released a promotional music video for the song, aired on Jackson's MTV Icon special and Total Request Live.
- Singer Nina covered the song for the soundtrack of the film "What's the Worst That Could Happen?"
- Japanese pop singer Utada Hikaru briefly sampled the song during the chorus and closing of the "Underwater Mix" of "Addicted to You"
- Yuliet Topaz released a lounge cover of the song in 2008.
- Deborah Cox, Brownstone, Chantay Savage, and Heavy D performed "That's the Way Love Goes" at the Soul Train Music Awards to tribute Jackson.
- Drum and bass artist Wriggler Bascombe sampled Jackson's vocals in "Burn by the Fire."
- Italian house producer Nicholas sampled the song for "The Way" in 2010.
- Saxophonist Kirk Whalum covered the song for the album "For You."
- Jazz musician Norman Brown covered the song and released it as the first single from his sophomore album "After the Storm."
- Alexander Ethan Gray also covered the song, which appeared on the tribute album "Smooth Sax Tribute to Janet Jackson"
The song was certified Platinum in the United States & Australia. It was also certified Silver in the United Kingdom.