What are Prince's 10 best songs?
The one and only Prince returns next week, with not one, but two new albums. On one hand we have Art Official Age, a Prince solo album full of his trademark funk-rock and a guest spot from Rita Ora. Or if that doesn’t float your boat, on the same day you can also pick up Plectrum Electrum, the first record he has recorded with his new all-female backing group 3rdEyeGirl.
To get you in the mood for both releases, here are ten of the best tracks from Prince’s epic career so far, in no particular order…
I Wanna Be Your Lover
Despite spending twice his recording advance on making it, Prince’s first album For You failed to produce any major hits. So it was this smash, the lead track of his eponymous sophomore album, that really trust him into the public eye. It’s a great piece of late 70s disco, already touching of Prince’s favourite subject – seducing beautiful ladies.
(Taken from: 1999)
It would be his fourth album 1999 that truly made Prince a megastar. The title track, a simple ode to partying, is still one of his one his greatest floor-fillers, with its pounding keyboards and infectiously funky guitars. The chorus also created a phrase to indicate how great your night is going to be that’s still used today, despite it being over a decade since the night he’s singing about.
(Taken from: Purple Rain)
By 1984, Prince was a superstar. He was now big enough to make the move over to cinema, taking the starring role as an alternate world version of himself known as ‘The Kid’ in Purple Rain. As a film it’s rather silly, but as recording of an artist at the peak of his powers, it’s incredible. The nine-minute title track, which closes out the film, is one of the most epic things Prince has ever done.
(Taken from: Around The World In A Day)
The biggest single from his seventh album Around The World In A Day, saw Prince take advantage of his Purple Rain success and start experimenting with his sound. As the title of the album suggested, ‘Raspberry Beret’ took influence from musical styles from all over the globe, including a string section and Middle Eastern finger cymbals clasping as it goes into the chorus.
(Taken from: Parade: Music From The Motion Picture Under The Cherry Moon)
1986 saw Prince return to the big screen, now also directing as well as acting in Under The Cherry Moon. It was not well received, probably due to its lack of songs and the fact it was shot in black and white. The soundtrack album – confusingly called Parade as opposed to the title of the film – did not disappoint, and spawned another worldwide smash hit in Kiss.
Sign O' The Times
(Taken from: Sign O' The TImes)
His first album without his backing band The Revolution, Sign O' The Times saw Prince in a much more reflective mood. The title track, while funky as ever, is noticeably more downbeat. The lyrics show despairing at the world, lamenting about starving children drugs, gangs and HIV. Musically it was also a departure, being written almost completely on a Fairlight sampler and sounding far more electronic than he had ever done before.
(Taken from: Lovesexy)
1988’s Lovesexy was recorded in just seven weeks after Prince’s notoriously unreleased The Black Album was mysteriously cancelled. As such, first single ‘Alphabet St’ has the feeling off being of being dashed off quickly, giving us a light, playful Prince that’s a nice change from some of his overblown moments. The song rattles along with mostly just a funky guitar line and drums, with shredding guitar solo, trumpets, rapper Cat Glover and even a xylophone coming in as and when they feel like.
(Taken from: Batman)
Prince has always been unique and experimental, but the soundtrack to Tim Burton's Batman gave the world the strangest hit single he even released. Original lead single ‘Dance With The Devil’ was pulled at the last minute and replaced with this schizophrenic track, melding together disparate elements from uncompleted songs and voice samples from the film, creating something more akin to a six minute mixtape than a song. Some love it, some hate it, but it’s definitely one of a kind.
(Taken From: Diamond and Pearls)
This cut from 1991’s Diamonds and Pearls is Prince at his grimiest and sexiest. Taking influences from then-contemporary club music, inlcuding some deep house and a touch of New Jack Swing. It sounds much more modern than his funky 80s heyday, but the saucy lyrics are still most definitely Prince.
(Taken from 3121)
The 90s weren’t the greatest time for Prince. He became embroiled is a contract dispute with his record company Warner Bros. and famously changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. He began releasing several double and triple albums, none of which were met with much critical or commercial success. But after over a decade in the wild, he returned to the fold as an elder statesman of R&B, with the title track from 2004’s Musicology and this silky, sexy song from 2006’s 3121.