Top Ten Songs by Prince
People refer to him by a million different names: His Purple BadnessÃ¢Â?Â¦The infamous indecipherable “symbol.” He is the one, the Only-Prince. His music, as chameleon-like and androgynous as he, has touched the ears of millions for over twenty years. He is by far, one of the longest standing pop/soul musicians (a musical genius by certain standards) in the industry. And here are TEN reasons why I will always love this guy:
1. “Purple Rain” – This song is practically synonymous with Prince. This song, the title track from this 1984 release is a song that has been covered by many different rock bands all over the country. The song’s wistful opening guitar riffs are legendary. What follows is a heart wrenching outpouring of emotion from a man little more than five feet high. “Purple Rain” lit millions of lighters whenever it was played. To this day, it is still a much requested classic.
2. “When Doves Cry” – Here is yet another hit from the Purple Rain album. Everyone remembers the video where the ladies are treated to a presumably naked Prince crawling around in front of a bathtub. His raw sexuality was displayed in his lyrics and in his video presentation. But a closer listen to the lyrics reveals a very deep topic. Prince talks about the conflicts within his family in this song. The angst is sublimely accented by his emotional guitar solos.
3. “She’s Always in My Hair” – Following the hit success of Purple Rain came Around the World in a Day. This 1985 album contained the wonderfully quirky song: “She’s Always in My Hair.” Prince eschews mundane instrumental arrangements. What I particularly liked was how the chorus of the song appears to “start again” musically-but then does not. It’s a bit difficult to explain. But anyone who is a huge fan of Prince knows exactly why this song is so special.
4. “If I Was Your Girlfriend” – Anyone born prior to 1991 will know that “If I Was Your Girlfriend” was NOT originally penned by pop group TLC. This is in fact, a Prince “ballad” of sorts. The single didn’t do very well when it was first released. Many people were still having issues with Prince’s rather androgynous approach to music. However, this clever song simply outlined what a male lover would do if he were his lover’s platonic girlfriend. The concept is simply brilliant. And the sensuous coos Prince exhibits fit right into the cushy percussion and coquettish appeal.
5. “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” – I will admit, that it took me years to actually realize how much I love this song. “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” infuses a much synthesized sound without sounding too 80’s kitschy. For some reason, the LM-1 drum machine samples fit perfectly with Prince’s delivery. The little story he tells seems naughty, even though Prince does not use any overt sexual language.
6. “Sign o’ The Times” – “Ã¢Â?Â¦In France a skinny man died of a big disease with a little nameÃ¢Â?Â¦” These are first lines of one of Prince’s most popular songs. This song, which lyrically illustrates the ills of the world was circa 1986-1987. The only thing which kept the song from truly being depressing was the soulful and quirky delivery of the lyrics, and the rather complicated percussion.
7. “Housequake” – Perhaps one of Prince’s most silly tunes, “Housequake” was the song that literally made people want to get up and dance. The beat was incredibly simple. It was Prince’s cries of elation that kept it from being truly annoying. The delivery simply oozes James Brown, which is another reason that it was such a delight to hear. Prince channeled Brown’s energy in the song, without it being over-saturated with nostalgia.
8. “Raspberry Beret” – Ahhh, storytime in Prince Land. This song outlines the sexy story of a woman wearing what I assumed was a magenta colored beret. Prince details his meeting with her, and the story is vividly revealed in his colorful lyrics. The whimsical instruments that he employs (harmonica, eastern finger cymbals, etc.) are the brushes of color that make this song stand out as a crowd favorite.
9. “Pop Life” – Before there was a Sign of any Time, there was Pop Life-another song brimming with social commentary. I liked the simple percussion on this song, and the questions he sings in the song which make people stop and think about the idiotic things they do to their bodies and minds. Particularly fetching, is the small pause in the middle, in which one can hear the crack of a baseball bat, and the roar of a crowd. Shortly after, Prince dives right back into the song. This little slice of reality brought a sense of authenticity to an otherwise “boring” song.
10. “The Question of U” – I am not a true fan of the blues. But if there was ever a blues song that moved me, it was this song. Originally written in 1985, this song ended up on the much overlooked “Graffiti Bridge” album. The loopy sound effects open the song up to very sparse lyrics. However, the delivery-and haunting background vocals take this “bluesy” song to a whole other level.
With a catalogue as limitless as Prince’s, there are perhaps at least twenty more songs that could be labeled as audible gold. But it is Prince Rogers Nelson’s sheer ability to capture a mood, moment, thought, feeling, expression, urge, or memory with sound that makes him a true musical genius.