Janet Jackson Through Lemmy’s Eyes

Amidst the roaring guitars, Lemmy discovered an unexpected kinship with the rhythm of Janet Jackson's groundbreaking track.

Janet Jackson - Black Cat
Key Takeaways
  • Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead admired Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat” for its rock style, diverging from her usual pop sound.
  • Lemmy aspired to collaborate with Jackson on this track, but the plan was halted by her record label, Sony.
  • Despite this setback, Lemmy’s interest in the collaboration remained a symbol of his broad musical tastes and desire to cross genre boundaries.

The Unlikely Rock Connection

The world of music often witnesses unexpected convergences, where artists from vastly different genres find common ground in their artistic expressions. One such surprising intersection occurred between Lemmy Kilmister, the revered heavy metal icon of Motörhead, and Janet Jackson, a powerhouse in the realm of pop and dance music.

Lemmy’s fascination with Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat” from her 1989 album “Rhythm Nation” was no ordinary musical interest. The song, known for its fierce guitar riffs and Jackson’s dynamic performance, captivated Lemmy, renowned for his love of hard-hitting rock music. What drew him to this particular track was its distinct rock music style, a stark contrast to Jackson’s usual dance-pop hits.

Lemmy Kilmister saw “Black Cat” as a powerful rock anthem that resonated with his musical ethos.

This admiration went beyond mere appreciation, as Lemmy aspired to collaborate with Janet Jackson on a special rendition of “Black Cat.” He envisioned a partnership that would blend their unique styles, creating a groundbreaking piece in the music world. This proposed collaboration was not just a fleeting wish for Lemmy; it was at the pinnacle of his list of dream musical collaborations.

However, this dream faced a significant obstacle. Sony, Jackson’s record label at the time, did not permit the collaboration. Despite Lemmy’s strong desire and persistence, the label’s decision stood as a major point of regret for him. He saw the potential for this project to be a landmark in musical innovation, a sentiment that was palpably evident in his reflections on the matter.

In an interview, Lemmy expressed his unfiltered admiration for “Black Cat,” stating, “You could tell from the video that she was having a good time, that this loud rock music is what she really wanted to be doing. I love that fuckin’ song. Great fuckin’ song that, but the record company wouldn’t let it be possible.” His words reflected not just a sense of disappointment but also highlighted his recognition of Janet Jackson’s versatility as an artist.

Despite the setback from Sony, Lemmy’s interest in recording “Black Cat” with Janet Jackson remained a fervent hope. It was a collaboration he had hoped to realize, showcasing his broad musical tastes and his eagerness to explore beyond the confines of his genre.

The Rock Essence of “Black Cat”

“Black Cat”, infused with hard rock elements, breaks away from Jackson’s traditional pop and R&B style, featuring heavy guitar riffs and an aggressive tone. This shift towards a rock-oriented approach is precisely what likely captivated Lemmy Kilmister.

The song’s thematic content is as compelling as its sound. “Black Cat” addresses the perils of substance abuse and the dangers of a reckless lifestyle. Its lyrics serve as a strong caution against drug use and gang violence, delivering a powerful, cautionary message. This aspect of “Black Cat,” coupled with its distinct rock sound, contributed significantly to its allure, particularly for someone like Lemmy, who was no stranger to songs with powerful messages.

“Black Cat” diverges from Janet Jackson’s usual style, featuring heavy guitar riffs and a cautionary message against substance abuse, striking a chord in the rock genre.

Janet Jackson’s vocal performance in the track is another noteworthy element. Her voice in “Black Cat” is both powerful and assertive, showcasing a side of her vocal abilities that diverged from her usual style. This foray into a more rock-influenced vocal approach may have been a critical factor in drawing Lemmy’s admiration. It demonstrated Jackson’s versatility as an artist, capable of transcending genre boundaries and embracing the raw energy of rock music.

The music video for “Black Cat” further accentuates its rock essence. It features Janet Jackson performing with a live band, exuding a high-energy rock atmosphere. Jackson’s commanding stage presence in the video, along with the live performance aspect, mirrors the aesthetics typical of the rock genre. Such an environment is one that Lemmy, with his deep roots in live rock performances, would have undoubtedly appreciated.

Commercially and critically, “Black Cat” achieved remarkable success. It climbed to the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, marking Janet Jackson as the first solo artist to achieve number one singles in the 1980s across three different categories: dance, R&B, and now rock. This achievement not only underscored the song’s widespread appeal but also its significance as a crossover hit that bridged different musical realms.

Lemmy’s admiration for “Black Cat” can be traced back to these very elements: the song’s rock characteristics, Jackson’s dynamic performance, and its deviation from the mainstream pop soundscape. His interest in collaborating with Jackson on this track indicates a deep appreciation for its energy and style, recognizing the song as a potent fusion of rock vigor and pop appeal.