For her first televised performance in almost a decade at this year’s Billboard Awards, Janet Jackson audaciously performed one of the most sexually explicit songs from her janet. album, which turned 25 on Friday. After tearing through “Nasty,” from 1986's Control (with a bit of instrumental interpolation from the Janet deep cut “When We Ooo” sprinkled in), Janet launched into “Throb,” a club smash that Janet and her dancers famously tore down the SNL house with in 1994. A house track with orgasmic moans and a charged refrain at its conclusion (“Boom boom boom until noon noon noon”), it was a particularly bold choice given the trouble Janet found herself and her carer in after she dared to express her sexuality at Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.
Heavy on choreography but light on singing, Janet’s performance had nary a malfunction. After concluding “Throb,” she accepted Billboard’s Icon Award. She was the first black woman to receive the award, its presenter Bruno Mars noted, which means that Billboard needs to start giving more trophies to black women. There are so many icons walking around without one of these doorstops.
Janet’s speech mildly touched on women’s contemporary activism and majorly touched on God as the answer to our social ills:
I’m deeply humbled and grateful for this award. I believe that for all the challenges, for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history. It’s a moment when at long last woman have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated, or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us in heart and mind.
This is also a moment where our public discourse is loud and harsh. My prayer is that weary of such noise, we turn back to the source of all calmness. That source, that source is God. Everything we lack, God has in abundance: compassion, sensitivity, patience and a boundless love. So again, I want to thank all of you for this honor, and I thank God for giving me the precious energy that lets me live my life as an artist who every single day seeks to expand my capacity to love. Thank you so much.