Containing autobiographical themes, a majority of the album's lyrics came as the result of a series of changes in her life: a recent annulment from R&B singer James DeBarge, severing her business affairs from her father and manager Joseph and the rest of the Jackson family, hiring A&M executive John McClain as her new management, and her subsequent introduction to Jam and Lewis. The album has been praised by critics as both an artistic feat and as a personal testament of self-actualization.
Control is widely regarded as the breakthrough album of Jackson's career. It became her first album to top the Billboard 200 and five of its commercial singles-"What Have You Done for Me Lately", "Nasty", "Control", "When I Think of You", and "Let's Wait Awhile"-peaked within the top five of the Billboard Hot 100. Music videos created to promote the singles showcased her dancing ability and became a catalyst for MTV. The album went on to receive several accolades, including a nomination for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and winning Producer of the Year, Non-Classical for Jam and Lewis in 1987. It is listed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 200 Definitive Albums of All Time. It has been certified fivefold platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and has sold over fourteen million copies worldwide.