Janet Jackson – “Dammn Baby” (Singles Going Steady)

One says the song is "an unimpeachable work of pop artistry" and another says it's "a fairly standard R&B dance groove". Who's right?

Pryor Stroud: Backboned by a pitched-down vocal sample and a sprawling, nearly gelatinous bass groove, “Dammn Baby” is an unimpeachable work of pop artistry from one of pop’s preeminent artists. Its light-as-air melody seems like a revelation stolen from the ether; an act of inspiration-thievery that Janet’s brother was also verifiably guilty of. Like the best dance-pop tracks, it’s a song suited for both public and private consumption — an ecstasy of rhythm and sonic affirmation made for the dance floor but eminently capable of accompanying a night alone with a pair of headphones. [9/10]

Chris Ingalls: Jackson, who turns 50 this month, has no need to prove anything to anybody at this point. She’s churned out a handful of classic albums over the last three decades. That’s good, because “Dammn Baby” doesn’t really cover any new ground and probably won’t win over a legion of new fans. It’s a fairly standard R&B dance groove, with female vocals cooing “dammn, dammn” and a plastic dance beat treading water for about three minutes and change. It even includes a completely unimaginative breakdown section, which merely cuts the beat into half-time with Janet singing over and over about how she’s “gonna break it down, break it down.” By no means the worst thing I’ve heard so far this year, but a disappointing single from an artist known for breaking barriers. [5/10]

Emmanuel Elone: With and understated instrumental, an average breakdown, and a half-hearted chorus, “Dammn Baby” does not live up to the hype. Nothing about this song is interesting. The vocal melody sounds like it was taken from any R&B song of the early ’00s, and the beat is colorless, failing to improve Janet Jackson’s performance at all. The best thing about this track isn’t even the music; it’s the “Damn Baby” sample from Janet’s 1997 song “I Get Lonely” that’s supposed to reveal if she’s pregnant or not. It’s a cute idea, but it’s not enough to lift this song up quality-wise to where it should be. [4/10]

Chad Miller: Pretty fun track. Jackson sounds like she’s really enjoying every second of this song, and she exudes her personality throughout, especially when she’s speaking. The opening section was nice, and the slow midsection was a really effective way to switch into the exciting ending. [7/10]

SCORE: 6.25

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