Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Janet Jackson featuring Q-Tip - Got Til It's Gone (1997)

***1/2 (of four)

It's not the proudest chapter of my music history, but in my early teen years I cultivated quite the obsession with the pop and R+B divas of the time - Whitney, Mariah, Vanessa, Madonna and most certainly Miss Janet, whose Rhythm Nation and Janet albums logged entire weeks of airtime in my CD player. By the time 1997's Velvet Rope album came out, I had moved on to bigger and better things - actually, I think I purchased two dozen Prince albums that year, but let's not dwell on that.

I wasn't too impressed with Janet's batch of singles at the time. I was a true sucker for "Go Deep," yeah, but I thought "Together Again" was trite and sappy, "I Get Lonely" just plain sucked and "Got Til It's Gone" relied too heavily on its Joni Mitchell easy-listening sample from "Big Yellow Taxi." Which had already been remade by Amy Grant and rotated to death three years prior. And had yet to be remade by Counting Crows and rotated to death.

I figured Janet should be singing her own choruses on her singles and had a hard time believing Q-Tip legitimately meant it when he rapped and re-rapped, "Joni Mitchell never lies" at various points in the song. Now I truly enjoy the smooth-ass beat and interplay between Janet and Q-Tip. The Joni Mitchell parts I've learned to live with - besides which, in the eight years since GTIG came out, hip-hop singles have become a downright collaborative affair. I'm almost conditioned to get bored and change the channel now if they give any artist more than one consecutive minute of airtime in his or her own song.

All that aside, the Mark Romanek video for "Got Til It's Gone" is one of his staples and a solid entry in the Janet Jackson canon. The camera wanders a massive house party, mostly lit in muted greens (almost tan-colored, really) and blues, with attendees of all ages and backgrounds. Well, they're all black, and Romanek seems to smugly feature "Europeans Only" signs above all the doorways, but we meet such luminaries as the midget cocktail waiter, the one-eyed homeless oracle, the Hanes briefs model, the guy pissing in the urinal and the barber who spends the entire video shaving heads.

Janet, Sideshow Bob locks on prominent display, could actually use a visit to the barber's chair. Instead, she lip synchs from the music stage and from the corner of a room, where she chills out while resting her elbows on a giant clock. Q-Tip wanders the party in a suit and thick, phony glasses. And animals appear randomly - a bird on top of some dude's Shriners' fez, a marmet weaving in and out of the bar liquor bottles, et al.

Oh, and keep an eye out for a cameo appearance by Joni Mitchell herself, who suffers a major case of wardrobe malfunction, inadvertently showing off her folksy muffin.


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