It was originally an experimental sound Jimmy Jam and Lewis was considering for the album, they did not give the song serious contemplation until the film producers from the movie "Poetic Justice" (starring Janet) requested a ballad for the film's soundtrack.
In 1992, Janet filmed her first film "Poetic Justice" prior to record a new album.
In the film, Janet's character, Justice uses her poetry to deal with her grief after her boyfriend is killed in a shooting incident at a drive-in. Later, Justice goes on a trip with her friends and Lucky (portrayed by Tupac Shakur), a postman who delivers mail to her shop and keeps asking her out. Eventually, Justice has to decide if she's ready for a new love and if Lucky is the man she's waiting for.
After shooting the film, Janet started recording a new album, declaring that the film inspired her to take new direction in her music, "Rhythm Nation was a heavy record, and Poetic Justice was a heavy movie. I wanted to do something lighter but also daring ... When I wrote the album, I was still in a poetic frame of mind, inspired by Maya's beautiful language."
The song was originally an experimental sound the production duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis was considering for the album.
While Janet found its melody compelling, the trio did not give the song serious contemplation until the film producers from Poetic Justice requested a ballad for the film's soundtrack. Janet subsequently wrote the lyrics for "Again" and shaped them around Jam's melody.
It was eventually included as the closing song to the film, but wasn't included on its soundtrack album. It was later released as janet.'s third single on October 12, 1993 with the jazz-funky track "Funky Big Band" from the album appearing on the single as a B-side, as well as a French version of the song, which also appeared on the limited edition of the album.
The music video for the song was directed by Janet's then-husband René Elizondo, Jr. in 1993.
It features actor Gary Dourdan as Janet's lost love with Janet writing in her diary as she reminisces about her love through flashbacks.
The alternate version of the video contains scenes from Poetic Justice playing on a television. The original video appears on the 1994 compilation "janet." and the 2004 DVD "From Janet to Damita Jo: The Videos" while the Poetic Justice version is included on the 2001 DVD edition of "All for You."
"Again" was a success on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching the top-forty in August 1993 and the top-ten in October 1993.
The song topped the Billboard charts for two weeks and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in December of 1993.
It was also a success on other Billboard component charts, including the Top 40 Mainstream (peaking at #2), the Rhythmic Top 40 (#3), Adult Contemporary (#4) and R&B Singles (#7).
In Canada, the song was also a success, reaching #2. In the United Kingdom, "Again" was a huge success, peaking at number 6, becoming her sixth top-ten single.
Elsewhere, the song peaked inside the top-twenty. In Australia, "Again" debuted at #26 before peaking at #19 four weeks later.
In New Zealand, the song was even better, peaking at #13 while in Sweden, the song was even higher, with a peak of #5 after eleven weeks on the chart, becoming her highest charting-single.
The song divided music critics.
Despite calling it a "throwaway", Alex Henderson of Allmusic picked the song as a highlight from the album.
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called it "the most treacly, saccharine ballad Janet has ever recorded, complete with the kind of teary breakdown one might expect from her brother."
In a classic track-by-track review, Andrew Hampp of Billboard remarked, "By the time Jackson pleas at the song's close, seemingly choking back tears, "Cause I've fallen in love with you again," it's hard not to get misty even after countless listens."
Essence magazine ranked "Again" as the fourth greatest break-up song of all-time.
"Again" was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for "Best Original Song" in 1993. It also received a nomination for "Best Original Song" at the 66th Academy Awards where Janet performed the song live.