That's the Way Love Goes (Janet Jackson song)
|"That's the Way Love Goes"|
|Single by Janet Jackson|
|from the album janet.|
|Released||April 20, 1993|
|Format||CD single, 7" single, 12" single, cassette single|
|Recorded||December 1992 (video instrumental)
January 1993; Flyte Tyme Studios (Edina, Minnesota)
|Writer(s)||Janet Jackson, James Harris III, Terry Lewis, James Brown, Fred Wesley, Charles Bobbit, John Starks|
|Producer(s)||Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis|
|Janet Jackson singles chronology|
"That's the Way Love Goes" is a song by American pop singer Janet Jackson from her fifth studio album, janet. It was written and produced by Jackson and Jam & Lewis. The single saw Jackson transitioning to a more sensual territory and themes of romantic lust, considered a shocking contrast among critics and the general public. The song's slow tempo fused pop, R&B, and funk with flourishes of downtempo music. The song received positive reception from contemporary music critics, who praised it as "iconic," "hypnotic," and an "extravaganza" for its production and vocal styling.
"That's the Way Love Goes" became Jackson's biggest hit to date and was the longest-reigning hit of the year, peaking atop the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks, also reaching number one on the Hot 100 Airplay for ten weeks, and for multiple weeks on the Top 40 Mainstream, Rhythmic Top 40, Hot R&B Singles, and Hot Dance/Club Play charts. The song became the first and only single in history to debut at number one on the Hot R&B Airplay chart. Its single became a number one seller in Canada and the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales charts. Internationally, the song placed at the number one position in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Hungary, and South Africa. Notably, the song spent more weeks at number one than any singles by Michael Jackson and Madonna on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is the eighteenth biggest hit of the nineties, and is also the biggest selling single of all time by a female artist in South Africa.
"That's the Way Love Goes" received a Grammy Award for Best R&B song, in addition to Billboard Awards, BMI Pop Award for "Most Played Song," BPI Sales Awards, American Music Awards, and Soul Train Awards. Its accompanying music video received several nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards. To date, it has sold over three million copies worldwide.
"That's the Way Love Goes" has been covered by artists such as Bruno Mars and 'N Sync, cited as an influence by Britney Spears and Nelly Furtado, and has also inspired or been sampled in songs by Alicia Keys, Destiny's Child, and Utada Hikaru. The song's music video has influenced several videos, including releases from Ciara and Prince. It is considered one of Jackson's signature songs, along with "Nasty", "Rhythm Nation", "Together Again", and "All for You", among several others.
- 1 Background and composition
- 2 Composition
- 3 Critical reception
- 4 Chart performance
- 5 Music video
- 6 Live performances
- 7 Influence
- 8 Legacy and impact
- 9 Covers and samples
- 10 Awards and accolades
- 11 Track listings
- 12 Official remixes
- 13 Charts
- 14 See also
- 15 Notes
- 16 References
- 17 External links
Background and composition
Jackson transitions to sensual territory and a new style with the single, boasting elements of pop, downtempo, and funk.
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Prior to recording, Jackson signed a forty-million dollar contract with Virgin Records, becoming the world's highest-paid musical act. "That's the Way Love Goes" was released as the first single from Jackson's fifth studio album, janet., and was written and produced by Jackson and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It contains a sample of James Brown's "Papa Don't Take No Mess". As the lead single from janet., its aura was a stark contrast to the industrial-driven dance pop of prior album Rhythm Nation 1814. Jackson was initially indifferent upon hearing an early demo of its instrumental, prompting her to request a tape of it to listen to as she was leaving for a brief vacation. When returning several weeks later, Jackson replied "You know that track you did? I love it. It's absolutely the bomb," adding "I wasn’t hearing it, but now I totally hear it." "We’ve gotta do that track! Oh my God, we played it non-stop!" Jackson desired to write and record the song immediately, and quickly created the song's title.
The song's first composition had a lovelorn tone, which Jackson revised, contacting producer Jimmy Jam to say she was taking an alternate direction. Jackson, who stayed with Jam and his wife during the session, soon buzzed his home intercom early in the morning. Jam recalled, "She said, ‘Are you awake?’ I said ‘Umm, I am now!’ She says, ‘I got the idea for the song. That’s the way love goes… but in a good way.’ We went and recorded it that day and it sort of set the tone for what the album was." The song's final composition displayed a more seductive and sensual light. Virgin Records had selected "If" as the album's first release, wanting an upbeat dance song to lead the album, but Jackson argued otherwise. "Everybody was talking about 'If'", says Jam. "To me, your first single should say, 'Welcome to the album. If you like this, check out the rest.' And we really felt 'That's the Way Love Goes' was in keeping with the spirit of the rest of the album. And since it went to number one, we proved that we were right!"
Speaking about the song's development, Jam said "janet. was very much a departure from Rhythm Nation in that we were all kind of happy and in love, and that’s what the album ended up reflecting. It was about creating what that sounds like – what ‘sexy’ sounds like, what ‘love’ sounds like. For us, ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’ was the perfect entrée, if you will, into what the album was going to be. At one point in the recording we took a two-week break for the holidays and Janet went to a place in Anguilla called Cap Juluca, her favourite little getaway spot. She said, ‘Would you make me a cassette of all the tracks?’ I put ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’ on for the heck of it, which sampled ‘Papa Don’t Take No Mess’ because I’d been a big James Brown fan back in the day. Two weeks later, she comes back, walks into the studio and says, ‘We’ve gotta do that track! Oh my God, we played it non-stop!’ At that time, she and René were staying at my house. At about one in the morning, the intercom went off in my bedroom. She goes, ‘Jimmy? Are you awake?’ I said, ‘I am now.’ She said, ‘I’ve got the concept. It’s going to be called ‘That’s the Way Love Goes’.’ Throughout the whole project, it was our favourite record. We liked everything we did, but there was something about that song that we just thought was so different and really captured that part of her life." 
In retrospect, Jackson called the song "relaxed and carefree," being equally "easy and fun, soft and seductive." Jam recalled, "We won a Best Song Grammy for That’s The Way Love Goes and I said [to Janet] “You know what the significance of winning this Grammy is?” and she says, “No, what?” I said, “You won this Grammy as a songwriter. This is a song writing award.” She said, “Wow, that is so cool.”
"That's the Way Love Goes" is set in common time, in the key of G minor. Jackson's vocal chords range between the tonal nodes of high-tone F3 to low-tone Bb4. The song is in a medium tempo of 100 beats per minute with the chord progression being set like Am–E–Gb.
"That's the Way Love Goes" was well received by contemporary music critics and garnered positive reviews. The song was praised for its sonic innovation and for being a departure from Jackson's previous works, evolving to an edgier and more sensual style. David Browne of Entertainment Weekly described the song as "gently percolating pop" and "easygoing," with another critique stating "the sexy lyrical composition blends well with the seductively arranged harmony of the song." Rolling Stone described the song as a "warm bed of soul sounds." The publication praised Jackson's approach to sexuality within the song's lyrical agenda, writing "Jackson evades reductive sexuality by demanding love and respect from both her partner and herself. She wants you to touch her, and love's got to do with it because "that's the way love goes." Janet won't stand for a trade-off — she wants love and sex." Amazon called it "extremely slinky", while Alex Henderson of AllMusic qualified it as both "sultry" and "hypnotic."
Billboard considered the song more of an adult affair than Jackson's prior releases, saying "Janet leaves the flirting to the kids and instead lets her guard down for her lover ("Come closer baby closer / reach out and feel my body.")" The L.A. Times described "That's the Way Love Goes" as "one of the most endearing pieces of romantic pop confection of the '90s," adding "the song is a highlight of Jackson's latest and best album, "janet.," a "silky collection" of contemporary pop which "explores questions of sexual awakening and desire with a classy sense of pop craft and convincing passion." The publication also stated "Summer pop doesn't get any smoother or more seductive," likening its quality as unheard in mainstream pop for several decades, adding "You might have to go all the way back to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles or, even, the Drifters to find summer pop as silky and as inviting as this." Vibe called it "cool, sensual, simple." It was also labeled an "appealing midtempo number", with Jackson's vocals performed in a "lilt" technique.
PopCrush classified the "ultra-smooth jam" as both "sultry and deep." Glenn Gamboa of Newsday declared "After two straight smash albums and a dozen immediate hits, Jackson takes a left turn," ultimately "focusing on vibe and groove and making the most of her voice." The song was considered one of several which displayed how Jackson had "blossomed into a beautiful young woman," described as "a slow burn of a groove led by her sensual whisper," complete with "slinky guitars" which aided Jackson in displaying a side of her persona which was previously hidden.  MTV considered it "sultry, slow-burning," with the song also labeled "supple" and "sensual." 
Elsewhere, the song was considered a "gentle love ballad." An additional review stated "That's the Way Love Goes" and the janet. album "shattered any illusions the public still held that Janet remained a little girl. Filled with sexual desires and adult fantasies, Janet broke boundaries but still managed to channel her desires into chart-topping hits."
"That's the Way Love Goes" entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number fourteen. Two weeks later, a day before Jackson's birthday, it became Jackson's sixth number one on the Hot 100, eleventh number one on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and ninth number one on the Hot Dance Club Play charts. The single is also Jackson's biggest Hot 100 Airplay hit, where it spent ten weeks at number one; also spending four weeks at number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and four weeks atop the Hot Dance Music Maxi-Singles Sales. The song also peaked atop the Hot R&B Airplay and Hot R&B Single Sales charts. To date, the song is Jackson's biggest hit in the United States, notably exceeding the longevity of any of Michael Jackson and Madonna's singles which had reached number one. It became the eighteenth biggest hit of the nineties, and six years after its release, Billboard ranked the song as the thirtieth biggest pop hit of the past forty-five years, and in 2007, ranked the song as the nineteenth biggest hit ever by a female solo artist, ahead of singles released by rival Madonna.
The song is among one of eight songs to reach the top ten of the Pop Songs chart within two weeks of its release and is the longest-reigning number one hit among them, staying atop the chart for ten weeks. Jackson is also one of the few artists with at least ten top ten hits on Rhythmic formats, with "That's the Way Love Goes" being her first appearance and number one on the chart. The single was certified gold by the RIAA on November 12, 1993, and was later certified platinum.
Internationally, "That's the Way Love Goes" reached number one in Australia, Hungary, New Zealand, the United Kingdom's R&B chart, and Japan's J-WAVE Tokyo FM chart; also reaching the top position in Canada. The song peaked at number two in the United Kingdom, within the top five in Finland, Holland, and the Netherlands; and the top ten in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden. The song is also the biggest selling single by a female artist in South Africa, spending nine weeks at number one and being certified four times platinum.
The single was certified platinum in the United States and Australia, and silver in the United Kingdom. It earned a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in addition to BMI Pop Awards, BPI Sales Awards and Billboard Awards, among various other accolades.
The song's video was directed by Jackson's former husband René Elizondo, Jr. in March 1993. Set in a loft, Jackson is depicted amongst her friends, and is persuaded to her to play her new single. Jackson then plays the song, being interrupted by a backing dancer who briefly pauses it to express her approval. The song then resumes playing while Jackson and her friends begin to dance. The clip ends with Jackson talking and joking amongst her dancers. The video was choreographed by Tina Landon. To build anticipation, a promotional advertisement was aired on music channels for several weeks prior to the video's premiere, depicting Jackson narrating and introducing her dancers from behind a camera lens.
The music video is iconic within popular culture for being the first glimpse of a more seductive and adult side to Jackson, who was previously known for wearing bulky uniforms and military ensemble. This transition was first started with prior video "Love Will Never Do (Without You)," which first portrayed Jackson's newly-svelte figure and midriff-baring style, becoming her trademark image and iconic in pop culture. "That's the Way Love Goes" was nominated for Best Dance Video and Best Choreography at the MTV Video Music Awards, and won the award for Best Female Video. The video is featured on the janet. and Design of a Decade video compilations, the special edition edition of Jackson's All for You album, and the From janet. to Damita Jo: The Videos compilation. Behind the scenes footage of the making of "That's the Way Love Goes" was also released. An alternate "One Take Version" focusing solely on Jackson appeared exclusively on the janet. video compilation.
The video is also infamous for introducing a then-unknown Jennifer Lopez, who appeared as a backing dancer and also had a spoken line during the video's opening dialogue. Lopez credits Jackson as her inspiration to enter the entertainment industry, saying "When I saw the "Pleasure Principle" [video] it inspired me to get into this business," and "I can also never forget the magnificent Janet Jackson as she is a big inspiration for all my dance and music videos."
Jackson's previous video "Love Will Never Do (Without You)", the final single from Rhythm Nation 1814, was considered the "first inkling" of the contrasted image Jackson would develop with the janet. album imagery and "That's the Way Love Goes" video. Jackson's iconic transition to a sultrier and sex-driven image was observed and commended by many critics. Maureen Sajbel of The LA Times stated Jackson removed "the masculine clothes", and her image had become "refined and softened to a model-perfect feminine image." Describing Jackson's appearance in the video, Sajbel wrote "Jackson's svelte figure is poured into black bell-bottoms and crop tops. She wears silver hoop earrings and wide cream and silver chokers that have sent adolescents streaming into stores asking for "Janet Jackson necklaces." Entertainment Weekly declared the video Jackson's earliest foray into being seen as "not just a cherubic pop star but a confident, self-sufficient, and sexy grown-up," calling the "slinky, body-revealing video "the first volley."
PopMatters commended the video's choreography as "sinuous seduction" and praised the video's concept, saying "the video for “That’s the Way Love Goes” once again showcases Janet and her friends, but this time the portrait is much more sensual and relaxed. When this video was released, Janet had been out of the public eye for several years. The video gave hungry fans a fresh eyeful of a radiant, sexy-looking Janet, murmuring a tribute to the joys of physical love." Idolator also praised Jackson's evolution to an edgier image and style with the video, exclaiming "Ms. Jackson had finally shed her bulky “Rhythm Nation” uniform in exchange for a midriff baring top and a choker, long before anyone would associate her name with the words “wardrobe malfunction”. The clip was also called "was the most accessible version of the star the public had ever seen."
Foster Kamer of Complex declared the video a "really simple formula" and "decidely lo-fi" in comparison to Jackson's subsequent "high-tech repertoire." The clip, described as "just a bunch of ladies, kicking it in Janet's loft, dancing around to music," was praised as "all at once golden" for Jackson's "power of seemingly limitless charisma, especially when metered out and not unleashed full-force." The publication concluded "And yet: Janet oozes sexuality as she dances with the ladies around the apartment, leaning on walls, looking up at the ceiling, possibly thinking thoughts about her then-husband René Elizondo Jr." Music journalist Robert Christgau considered it among Jackson's videos which displayed "a gender equality that's almost progressive by video's pitiful male-chauvinist standards" due to the portrayal of Jackson as dominate and in control of her male counterparts, in which two male dancers compete for her and seven female dancer's attention.
The LA Times stated the clip's premise of "Jackson lounging with her pals" ultimately succeeds at "seeming offhandedly sexy in a very shrewd way." MusicOMH considered the video "a sultry start" into Jackson's new image, with Jackson seen dancing "up against a pillar." Feminist website Jezebel considered Jackson "loud, fierce and mouthy" in the video, a stark contrast from Jackson's "usually so soft-spoken" persona. The New York Times considered "the bump" dance to resurface among youth and clubs "now that Janet Jackson does it in her new video." 
Jackson performed a medley of "That's the Way Love Goes" and "If" at the MTV Video Music Awards. The performance is often considered one of the most infamous and intricate performances of Jackson's career. Complex considered the performance among "The 25 Sexiest Moments in VMA History," commenting "when Britney and Christina were busy dealing with midterms and acne, Janet Jackson was the queen of bringing sexy to the VMA stage. Though it'd no doubt be considered tame by today's standards, Janet's exposed stomach and bra made for the hottest performance of the year." Another critique found it "on point, going from sexy to high energy and intricacy," considering the medley "easily one of her best performances, and one that most pop chicks should study." The performance was introduced by actor Christian Slater, who declared Jackson to have "the sexiest bellybutton I've ever seen" during the announcement. The studio version of the medley used during the set appears on the limited edition version of janet., while remixes of the medley entitled the "CJ FXTC Club Mix" and "CJ FXTC Bass Hit Dub" appear on Jackson's second remix album janet. Remixed.
The song was performed along with "Because of Love" on MTV's New Year's Eve special. "That's the Way Love Goes" was also performed on Top of the Pops and French entertainment show Les Années Tubes. The song was later performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show during promotion for Jackson's ninth studio album 20 Y.O., and on Good Morning America upon the release of Jackson's tenth album Discipline.
The song's performance on the janet. World Tour was considered among the tour's "most affecting moments," saying Jackson "returned for the encore in just a flannel shirt and jeans." Of performances on the Number Ones, Up Close and Personal tour, a review stated "In fact, the more blissful the hook, the tighter she wrapped the song around her - somehow squeezing the breezy sensuality out of “That’s the Way Love Goes” without suffocating it."
Various artists have been inspired by the song's production, aura, and notorious opening segment, as well as the music video's "laid back" dance environment. The song has also been covered by artists such as Bruno Mars and 'N Sync.
Britney Spears credited "That's the Way Love Goes" as the inspiration for "Touch of My Hand," appearing on Spears' fourth album In the Zone, saying "I like to compare it to 'That's the Way Love Goes,' kind of a Janet Jackson thing." Additionally, MuuMuse likened the spoken word introduction of Spears' "Am I A Sinner" to a similar opening segment in Jackson's song. Spears also included "That's the Way Love Goes" in a playlist for Z100[disambiguation needed]'s Reality Radio, commenting "This is one of my favorite songs ever. I love this girl. She has the coolest abs in the world." The whispered introduction in the "Bluelight Version" of Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire" was inspired by the opening refrain in "That's the Way Love Goes." A lyric comparable to the song's introduction was also noted in Madonna's "Turn Up the Radio." Similar opening lines were also used in Wynter Gordon's "Stimela" and Jennifer Lopez's "Step Into My World."
Destiny's Child's "Nuclear", a Neptunes production included on the 2013 compilation Love Songs, was likened to an "early ’90s, “That’s The Way Love Goes”-style Janet Jackson mold" for its "sampled beat recalling the best of ’90s hip-pop," and also for "exhibiting the appeal of that era’s tendency towards mellow, soothing lyrics over churning hip-hop beats." Nelly Furtado cited Jackson and "That's the Way Love Goes" as an inspiration for the image and musical transition displayed with her third studio album Loose, saying "Janet Jackson came out with "That's the Way Love Goes," and she was comfortable in her sexuality and womanhood, and that was inspiring to me." Pitchfork likened Ciara's "This is What Love Is", appearing on her fourth studio album Basic Instinct, to "a trance-inspired take on the breathy spoken word of Janet Jackson's vastly superior "That's the Way Love Goes." Kat DeLuna cited the song as the inspiration for her career, saying "This song made me want to pursue music!" Sampled elements of "That's the Way Love Goes" are heard in guitar riffs placed throughout the chorus in the "Underwater Mix" of Japanese singer Utada Hikaru's "Addicted to You."
Due to the song being a massive summer hit, singles with potential to have the same success during the summer are likened to the song's appeal. Yahoo! Music considered Mariah Carey and Miguel's "#Beautiful" "one of the most appealing summer jams since Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes”. Jackson has evoked the song's feel in several later recordings, with People Magazine describing several cuts on Damita Jo as reminiscent of the song's "lush sensual rush." Producer Jimmy Jam also likened "Feels So Right" from All for You to the song for its mellow feel.
Several subsequent music videos or albums have been likened to the video's intimate party setting amongst music journalists. Buzzfeed likened the overall feel of Jhené Aiko's debut EP "Sail Out" to the "kickback" ambiance of Jackson's "That's the Way Love Goes" video, "but while sitting in clouds of smoke rather than dancing." Scenes in Ciara's "Body Party" video were influenced by the "laid-back" party setting of "That's the Way Love Goes", as well as Jackson's "Go Deep" video. The "Body Party" single artwork also referenced the artwork of Jackson's "All for You" single. Ciara's performance of the song at the 2013 BET Awards was likened to being inspired by Jackson's performance medley of the song at the MTV Video Music Awards. The opening setting of Ciara's "Never Ever" video, which featured Young Jeezy, was also observed to be similar to Jackson's video. The setting, choreography, and wardrobe worn by dancer Danielle Curiel in Prince's video for "Breakfast Can Wait" were observed to have a similar feel to Jackson's "That's the Way Love Goes" and "If" videos. Curiel commented "After “Breakfast Can Wait” came out everyone said it reminded them of those videos, so I went and watched them on YouTube I could definitely see the similarities." The "throw back" style of Toni Braxton's "Make My Heart" video was also described as reminiscent of the clip in selected scenes. Singer Jessi Malay cited Jackson's "confident, sexy" and "in control" image in "That's the Way Love Goes" as an influence, saying "Janet is a female artist who has gotten the message out that you can be a commanding woman without losing your femininity and sexuality." 
Critics have observed elements similar to the video's somber dance vibe and infamous golden-hued setting in several films and television shows. A golden-hued setting from the film Spartacus: Vengeance was compared to the video by Logo's The Backlot. The locale in an episode of American Horror Story: Coven titled "Fried Chicks" was also likened to the video, with The New York Time's Vulture.com saying "Fiona is having her hair done on the set of “That’s the Way Love Goes”." Jackson's black ensemble during this period were prominent influences in fashion. In 2011, Elle Magazine described a Catherine Malandrino off-the-shoulder black dress as reminiscent of the outfit worn by Jackson in the clip.
In popular culture
Several celebrities and musicians have praised the song and its video. Robin Thicke revealed Jackson to be his first celebrity crush, saying "the video for “That’s the Way Love Goes,” my friends and I would watch that and be like, Whoa." In 2011, Simon Cowell stated "I love Janet Jackson’s That’s the Way Love Goes" when asked who was the most played artist on his iPod. Tyra Banks included the song in a playlist for iTunes, calling it "great for a photo shoot when you're all wrapped up in white sheets and need to portray sex." Christina Aguilera included it among her favorite songs on her APE radio station. Kim Kardashian has also tweeted praise for the song. In 2011, Christina Milian mentioned the track as one of her favorite songs, commenting "I thought she was so hot, and I wanted to be like her." Diplo's artist Benzi included a remix of the song in a mix released for his "Diplo and Friends" series. DJ Stylus cited obtaining the knowledge of assembling "the right combination of people" and playing "the right tunes" at shows from watching the song's music video, saying "I think that idea was first planted in my mind by this video." DJ AM played the song by request during an event held for Lindsay Lohan's twenty-second birthday.
Legacy and impact
"That's the Way Love Goes" is one of Jackson's biggest hits and is known as one of her signature songs, often being praised for its vocals, innovative production, and "timeless" aura. It was also considered an alternative to popular radio trends and an essential part of Jackson's growth as an artist, signifying a massive shift in both her music and image with the song's music video. The song continues to inspire various artists today, with the song often being covered, and also cited as an inspiration in songs by Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, Nelly Furtado, and Destiny's Child. To date, the song continues to receive various awards and accolades, with it being ranked among Blender's "500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born" in 2009 and placing at number four in VH1's "Greatest Songs of the '90s" in 2012.
Yahoo! Music described "That's the Way Love Goes" as "iconic" and timeless, calling it a "silky, sultry, and iconic smash that sounds as good today as it did in 1993," adding "it went all the way to the top of Billboard's Hot 100 where it remained for eight weeks." Billboard praised the song's structure and longevity, saying "That indelible refrain: "Like a moth to the flame / burned by the fire / my love is blind / can't you see my desire?" That slinky Jam & Lewis beat. Even at 20 years old, this Janet jam can still ignite any house party, much like the one in its music video." The publication also commended its influence in popular culture, exclaiming it to be "a sexual awakening for both Jackson and American culture"; classifying the song as one of "the most sexually frank to reach the upper reaches of the charts at the time."
AllMusic called it "the biggest and best hit from janet.", while The L.A. Times considered the track "one of the most endearing pieces of romantic pop confection of the '90s." GuidetoGay called the song unexpected and "equally sexy" as her image, "but unlike Madonna’s ‘Erotica’, ‘janet.’ left more to the imagination. Our first taste was the sensual lead single, ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’," which had previously "sat at #1 on the Australian ARIA chart." "While most expected her to return with an in-your-face dance track, Jackson “eased in the side door” with a more soulful groove. The music video was equally laid back, showing Jackson chilling with her dancers - one of whom was a then unknown Jennifer Lopez."
An article from CNN stated the song memorably "set the mood for a sultry summer," while Vulture.com recalled the track "slinked its way easily onto summer mix tapes". Robert Hilburn of The LA Times called the song's success "no accident", declaring it "the most seductive slice of daydream romanticism in years." Furthermore, the song was titled "the epitome of bedroom slow-jams", among one of the album's "several iconic hits" which helped define the decade.
Newsday considered "That's the Way Love Goes" to be one of many of Jackson's singles which effectively "changed the course of pop," applauding the "all-purpose, feel-good hit," saying "unlike most summer anthems, "That's the Way Love Goes" doesn't have a gimmick. It's just straight-up cool. [...] It got heads bobbin' in countless cars. It filled dance floors with folks finger- pointing along with the chorus. It became an essential part of the soundtrack to barbecues and beach parties. With its laid-back beat and Jackson's sultry- sweet vocals, it doesn't get you excited as much as puts a smile on your face, which may explain why it was never grating despite its omnipresence." A writer for Gold Stripe Magazine stated "When we think of the 90s, we think of baggy boyfriend jeans, crop tops, big hair, and house parties. Janet Jackson was one woman who defined the decade. On the scene, she was the total package: sexy, talented, and a softspoken sweetheart."
Slant Magazine praised the song as being a departure from Jackson's previous style and a contrast to what dominated radio at the time, being an alternative to popular trends. "But while true singer's singers like Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men ruled the charts, Janet's "That's the Way Love Goes" offered a subtler alternative. With its measured hip-hop loop and titular one-line hook, the song was sleek, smart, and sexy—everything you didn't expect from the lead single from a Janet album." Pop! Blerd gave a similar account, saying it "offered up a whole different Miss Jackson," analyzing the song as "a smooth, seductive groove that had nothing in common with the high energy dance tunes that had been her previous claim to fame".
Furthermore, an anecdote stated "this song smashed records worldwide, and heralded the arrival of a grown woman comfortable with her own sexuality. Fans and music lovers were left gaping in awe as Janet shed away her military style outfits and did away with her tomboy looks, resurfacing as a strong confidant woman and a global pop icon with the release of her 1993 iconic album ‘Janet.’, which went on to produce 6 consecutive top 10 hits including 2 # 1 singles, and pushed her ahead of her contemporaries Madonna and Whitney Houston."
Several critics applauded the song's opening lines of the song as "seductive," "memorable," and "hypnotic", with a particular review exclaiming "Janet makes it read like poetry." The analysis continued "That's The Way Love Goes" didn't surface until seven years into Janet's post-Control career, and realistically, no one had any reason to think she was sexy enough to pull it off. Where Janet used to hint at getting it in, she now openly admitted to wanting it without hesitation; "Go deeper baby, deeper...you feel so good I wanna cry." At 25, it made sense for her to give up the coyness of her earlier years. But, who knew she'd pull it off quite so well?" Heidi-Siegmund Cuda of The New York Times declared the song to have a profound affect in clubs, describing an experience saying "love was in the air, as couples lapped it up and slinked along to the beat."  An additional anecdote stated it "debuted at #1, featured a sexy video and just a groove and beat that you just can help but fall in love with. The sultry vocals of Janet Jackson and that hypnotic groove ceases to get old." Soul Train called its era "all about Ms. Janet Jackson," saying the song "reigns supreme in the warm weather months," adding "that sultry, silky voice that Jackson brings to the table, combined with hot, sexy lyrics made this song one of the year’s best." Jackson's appearance in the video was heralded as "all kinds of fly and fashion forward." 
Rich Juzwiak of Gawker calls "That's the Way Love Goes" a "classic" that "everyone's heard a million times," asking "Have you listened to this song lately? Like, really listened to it, not just took it for granted as the pop wallpaper that megahits can become over time? It's worth it." Juzwiak applauded the song for its "hypnotic" tempo and vocals, also noting the pivotal role the song and its video played in Jackson's evolution to a sexier, more adult image. "This song is all about the audacity of chill — it bumped its way into pop culture 19 years ago to launch Janet's fifth album (but third one that really mattered), janet. Instead of hitting us in the face with any of the album's many uptempos, Jan, Jam and Lewis teased the set with the relaxed hip-hop soul of "That's the Way Love Goes." The album it comes from was all about her sexual blossoming, and here's where the petals started to move. The song relies on deceptively gripping hooks (earworms are never chill and this is crawling with them) and exploits Janet's musical muttering [possibly] better than anything before or since. For not demanding too much and letting her just ooze, this song resulted in the vocal performance of the woman's career." An additional evaluation called the single's release "strategic timing," applauding Jackson's attempt to "urge the label to go with something that was romantic, grown and laid-back, but still had that slight aspect of Hip Hop coolness that made the track move, instead of opening the course of the janet. era with a big dance record", adding "this single for Janet was, at a minimum, a genius move [...] This track earned Janet her second Grammy for "Best R&B Song" and counts as her sixth number one single." The critique added Jackson's "broad appeal" allowed the song to thrive on pop, urban, and adult contemporary formats. "It still sounds fresh to this day, and I'd be willing to bet that people who aren't even die-hard Janet fans have always been in love with this single."
The song's music video is also considered iconic and one of Jackson's most infamous videos. Buzzfeed considered it the fourth best video of Jackson's career, praising its "house party" theme. Jackson's ensemble in the clip further aided Jackson in becoming known for her trademark abs, and also set fashion trends among youth, with Jackson's "wide cream and silver chokers" described as having "sent adolescents streaming into stores asking for "Janet Jackson necklaces." Idolator also noted "That's the Way Love Goes" being an essential part of Jackson's iconic image transition, writing "Ms. Jackson had finally shed her bulky “Rhythm Nation” uniform in exchange for a midriff baring top and a choker, long before anyone would associate her name with the words “wardrobe malfunction”.
Furthermore, "That's the Way Love Goes" was described it as an "extravaganza" and "easily iconic," placing emphasis upon both the song and music video. "With the sex-drenched refrain ‘Like a moth to a flame burned by the fire, my love is blind can’t you see my desire‘, Janet Jackson launches into the biggest hit of her career in the US, a silky smooth flirt-fest that can set any house-party on fire – as depicted in the Rene Elizondo-directed golden-hued video featuring a then-unknown Jennifer Lopez cozying up to choreographer Omar Lopez looking all cool right next to Janet, who, incidentally sports abs that desperately deserve the Nobel Prize." "The Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis/ Janet Jackson production is a supreme baby-making extravaganza – incorporating Jam and Lewis’ smooth Minneapolis sound with Janet’s slinky soul drenched vocals. As Janet sensually coos ‘Don’t mind if I light candles, I’d like to watch us play, baby I’ve got on what you like…‘, it’s really, REALLY hard not to think about getting it on. Easily, iconic." 
Covers and samples
- Bruno Mars performed a live cover of "That's the Way Love Goes" at the Chelsea Theater in Las Vegas in January 2014. Mars previously covered the song while performing at the Playboy Mansion two years prior.
- British producer MNEK released a cover of "That's the Way Love Goes" in April 2013, saying "Janet Jackson is just the queen, and it requires no debate. All rights go to Janet, Jam + Lewis and anyone else who was involved. whoever [else] is probably irrelevant simply cos Janet Jackson, and Jam + Lewis are just better than everything and everyone. That's all." The cover reconstructs the song using Jackson's vocals in addition to his own.
- "That's the Way Love Goes" was sampled in Freddie Gibbs' "4681 Broadway." Paul Wall's "That's the Way Luv Goes," Dizzy Wright's "Welcome Home," Kid Sensation's "I Gotta Lotta Love," Charles Hamilton's "Strangers with Candy," and Joey Bada$$'s "Don't Quit Your Day Job".
- 'N Sync covered "That's the Way Love Goes" and released a promotional music video for the song, which was aired on Jackson's MTV Icon special and Total Request Live.
- Singer Nina covered the song for the soundtrack of the film What's the Worst That Could Happen?
- Japanese pop singer Utada Hikaru briefly sampled the song during the chorus and closing of the "Underwater Mix" of "Addicted to You"
- Deborah Cox, Brownstone, Chantay Savage, and Heavy D performed "That's the Way Love Goes" at the Soul Train Music Awards to tribute Jackson.
- Drum and bass artist Wriggler Bascombe sampled Jackson's vocals in "Burn by the Fire". Italian house producer sampled the song for "The Way" in 2010.
- Saxophonist Kirk Whalum covered the song for the album For You. Jazz musician Norman Brown covered the song and released it as the first single from his sophomore album After the Storm. Alexander Ethan Gray also covered the song, which appeared on the tribute album Smooth Sax Tribute to Janet Jackson.
Awards and accolades
"That's the Way Love Goes" received a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song and was also nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. It also received a BMI Pop Award for "Most Played Song," various Billboard awards, and sales awards internationally.
Sirius XM's Cosmo Radio listed "That's the Way Love Goes" among the "top 10 most requested, super-sexy songs of all time", selected by "male and female listeners and celebrity guests."  In 2012, VH1 included "That's the Way Love Goes" in a list of songs thought to induce thoughts of sex and passion. In 2009, AOL Radio ranked it number seven in a list of ten "Best Sex Songs." "That's the Way Love Goes" was included in Blender's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born", with VH1 also ranking it among the "Greatest Songs of the '90s" in 2012.
|1993||Billboard Awards||Top Pop Albums Artist; Female||Won|
|Billboard Awards||Top R&B Single; Airplay||Won|
|Billboard Awards||Top R&B Artist; Female||Won|
|Billboard Awards||Top Hot 100 Single of the Year||Nominated|
|BMI Pop Awards||Most Played Song||Won|
|BPI Sales Awards (UK)||Silver Award||Won|
|Grammy Awards||Best R&B Song||Won|
|Grammy Awards||Best R&B Vocal Performance; Female||Nominated|
|MTV Video Music Awards||Best Female Video||Won|
|MTV Video Music Awards||Best Dance Video||Nominated|
|MTV Video Music Awards||Best Choreography||Nominated|
|Soul Train Music Awards||Single of the Year; Female||Won|
|Soul Train Music Awards||Song of the Year||Nominated|
|1994||American Music Awards||Favorite Soul/R&B Single||Won|
|2008||VH1||Top 100 Love Songs (#52)||Won|
|2009||Blender||500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born (#427)||Won|
|2012||VH1||40 Greatest Songs of the '90s (#4)||Won|
|2013||Complex||50 Best Videos of the '90s (#9)||Won|
"That's the Way Love Goes" also reached number one on Billboard's Hot 100 Airplay, Hot R&B Airplay, and Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales charts. The song also became the biggest selling and longest reigning number one hit by a female artist in South Africa.
End of year charts
End of decade charts
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- List of Mainstream Top 40 number-one hits of 1993 (U.S.)
- R&B number-one hits of 1993 (USA)
- List of number-one singles in Australia during the 1990s
- List of number-one singles in 1993 (New Zealand)
- List of number-one dance singles of 1993 (U.S.)
- Halstead & Cadman 2003, p. 118
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- "That's the Way Love Goes" video on YouTube
- "That's the Way Love Goes" video (Extended Intro) on YouTube
- 'N Sync - "That's the Way Love Goes" video on YouTube
- "That's the Way Love Goes" chart history
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics