Should Have Been Bigger: Janet Jackson’s “All Nite (Don’t Stop)”
In this franchise, we look back on songs that deserved a little more love and attention.
Janet Jackson’s career was forever changed by her performance with Justin Timberlake at the 2004 Super Bowl. As the duo concluded their set with the former boy bander’s “Rock Your Body,” Timberlake ripped off part of the diva’s costume inadvertently exposing her breast on national television. The backlash against the “All For You” siren was immediate and professionally devastating ahead of the release of her eighth studio album, Damita Jo.
Though most Super Bowl performers enjoy a sales boost in the aftermath of their performance, the opposite was true following the now-iconic nip slip. The superstar was banned from the Grammys and blacklisted by radio and television stations. As a result, the first two singles from Damita Jo stalled on the charts and failed to break the top 40. As Janet relentlessly attempted to fix the damage, she released “All Nite (Don’t Stop)” as the third single from the LP. One of her most undeniable anthems in years, it would have been a no-brainer hit at any other time in her career.
“So intoxicated, I’m so stimulated. Feel so X-rated. I could dance all night,” Janet coos over a racing production courtesy of Swede pop duo Bag & Arnthor. Combining elements of funk and samba, the track featured an irresistible beat and was tailor-made for the club. As her voice effortlessly wove through the production, the hitmaker became a dance commander as she encouraged listeners to join her in jerking, twerking, and dropping it lower than they had ever dreamed possible.
In the Francis Lawrence-directed music video, Janet and her dancers take the track’s lyrics very seriously and dance through the night in the midst of a blackout. Showcasing her ridiculously toned abs in a cropped top and low rise denim, the diva led her crew through an abandoned house for a sexy romp. The visual was a fierce statement. After being ridiculed and blacklisted for the Halftime show, the pop icon refused to be silenced or censored by the industry. Instead, she led her crew through some of her most sexually empowered choreography to date.
Janet brought the video to life with a series of performances on Saturday Night Live and On Air with Ryan Seacrest, providing plenty of evidence that her star power was as bright as ever. Unfortunately, “All Nite (Don’t Stop)” still floundered on the charts. MTV and other subsidiaries refused to play the video, while networks like BET insisted on airing an edited version. With little support on radio or television, the single failed to even chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number 19 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
In an unsurprising twist, Justin Timberlake was able to escape the Super Bowl with little backlash and reemerged two years later with one of his most successful (and overtly sexual) eras to date. Janet meanwhile struggled to regain her status in the industry. The sexist double standard left her reeling for years, but she persevered and made yet an epic comeback with 2017’s State of the World Tour, which includes a performance of her criminally underrated single. Revisit the fiery banger below.