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Album: Rhythm Nation 1814Released: 1990Charted:
This was the only song on the Rhythm Nation album to be written entirely by Jackson. It was produced by guitarist Jellybean Johnson, who also performed on the track.
The song finds Janet warning her bad-boy boyfriend that he needs to shift his priorities before he loses both her and his life. Two superstitions/folk tales come into play on the track: cats having nine lives and black cats being a sign of bad luck. Janet sees her man as someone whose lives are quickly running out, and also a negative influence on her.
Although she didn't win the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance with this song (she lost to Alannah Myles for "Black Velvet
"), Janet became the first artist to earn nominations across Pop, Dance, Rock, Rap, and R&B categories when "Black Cat" was nominated.
, another of her producers, encouraged Jackson to tap into her Rock side with this song. "One night I told her I wanted her to sound like a Rock and Roll queen on it - she usually uses one of her other voices to sing R&B funk. This, you wanted to be funky, but more rocked out. That was what I was trying to get her to do, and she did it in one or two takes."
Jackson employed a real black leopard during her concerts until some fans became concerned about the cat's welfare. She announced: "While the illusion with the cat was appreciated by most of the audience, if it caused even a few people to worry about the safety of the cat, it's not worth keeping it."
But there was really nothing to worry about, she added. "I know how well the animal was treated by its trainer and my production staff. I love animals and would never do any harm, or allow anyone to do any harm, to one. Rather than let my fans worry, I would rather do without the cat."
For a more frightening black cat mishap, check out the Songfacts for Hall & Oates' "Maneater
This song was featured in the 1991 action-thriller The Taking of Beverly Hills.