Janet Jackson, Twenty Foreplay
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Slow Jam Saturday : Janet Jackson, Twenty Foreplay

A year before releasing her sixth solo album, The Velvet Rope, in 1997, Janet Jackson gifted her fans with her first greatest hits album, Design of a Decade: 1986–1996. I remember the initial criticisms about the title since the bulk of the songs were from her third (Control) and fourth (Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814) albums. The singles that accompanied both of those albums saw release dates between 1986 and 1991. In addition, only one song from her 1993 album, Janet, is included. The omission of songs from Janet is a surprise, as that album had five number-one singles. 

Nevertheless, Design of a Decade: 1986–1996 would still sell 4.3 million copies. In support of the album, Ms. Jackson released two singles. The infectious “Runaway” and this week’s Slow Jam Saturday spotlight, “Twenty Foreplay.” Jackson wrote and produced the song with her frequent collaborators Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. I’ve always loved the song because it starts with a seventies-style ballad before going into a mid-tempo R&B groove. 

I still remember being at the age of fourteen and smiling from ear to ear when Janet sang, “Seeing your face glow is the nicest of hellos.” And now, as a married man and father, one of the greatest joys in life is seeing my wife and son wake up in the morning after a peaceful sleep. I must also make mention of the video with its b&w cinematography and the homage to Dorothy Dandridge.

Considering that the song is a fan favorite when it comes to her slow jams, it’s a surprise that Janet didn’t perform the song live until 2017’s State of the World Tour. If I am ever blessed enough to see Janet live, “Twenty Foreplay” is the one song that would get the biggest reaction from me. Illuminating sensuality and romance while avoiding crassness, “Twenty Foreplay” is one of my favorite ballads in Mrs. Jackson’s catalog.

Final Grade: A

While Design of a Decade: 1986–1996 is available to stream online, for some reason, “Twenty Foreplay” is omitted.

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