“Black Cat” is a song by American singer Janet Jackson, released as the fifth single from her fourth studio album Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). It was written by Jackson, and produced by Jackson with Jellybean Johnson. In a departure from her standard of industrial-based dance-pop, “Black Cat” is a pastiche of hard rock and heavy metal with influences of punk, dance-rock, and glam metal. Its lyrics speak of substance abuse and gang violence. It was the final song recorded for the album, after Jackson composed its main riff when desiring a rock song to complete the record.
“Black Cat” was well received among critics, who praised Jackson’s “maximum advantage” vocals and her seamless foray into the hard rock genre. It was a commercial success, reaching number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 as well as the top ten in the charts in South Africa, Canada, Norway, and Australia, among other countries. In the United Kingdom it was a top-twenty hit, peaking at number fifteen. It was certified gold in the United States and Australia.
Its music video, directed by Wayne Isham, was filmed during Jackson’s Rhythm Nation World Tour 1990. It used an “in-concert” theme, splicing Jackson with images of a black panther. Jackson performed “Black Cat” at the MTV Video Music Awards, in a “fiery rendition” of the song in which she conveyed “feline” choreography, and also on the Rhythm Nation World Tour 1990, which drew media attention for its usage of illusionary magic, concluding with Jackson forced into a cage before transformed into a live panther.
“Black Cat” received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, making her the only artist in history to receive nominations spanning five genres. It also earned Jackson a BMI Pop Award for Most Played Song. “Black Cat” has been cited as an influence by numerous artists and it has been covered by such artists as Warmen, Britney Spears, and Nanne Grönvall.