Written By: Ethan Griggs
My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com
There have been all sorts of kings and queens in the music biz over the years, but there has only ever been one Prince. Born Prince Rodgers Nelson in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 7th, 1958, the prodigious multi-instrumentalist released nearly forty albums and has sold over one hundred million worldwide in his all-too-short lifetime (Prince accidentally overdosed on prescribed opioids last year at the age of fifty seven.) Here are five of his greatest moments as an artist and songwriter:
- “I Wanna Be Your Lover” from Prince (1979)
This song catapulted Prince into the international spotlight. While his debut album, For You, had gained him modest notoriety in the States, the lead single from his eponymous second record proved that Prince was only getting started. The single hit the charts in a time where bands like Chic and the Commodores ruled the airwaves, and this track fits right in among the best of those artists’ hits. It would be a few years before Prince truly found his voice and had another major hit, but the two albums after this initial success, Dirty Mind and Controversy, convinced the public that Prince was here to stay.
- “Little Red Corvette” from 1999 (1982)
1999 was Prince’s first true blockbuster album, and he submitted one of the greatest love songs of the eighties on the double album’s first side – although one could say it’s more of a sex song than a love song (the song is rumored to be about the infamous Bebe Buell). .) “I guess I should’ve known by the way you parked your car sideways/That it wouldn’t last/See, you’re the kinda person that believes in makin’ out once/Love ’em and leave ’em fast”. It’s probably one of the best descriptions of a one-night stand ever. Prince not only was a top of the line musician, but he was also an excellent songwriter capable of describing his honest passion for sex and physical contact.
- “When Doves Cry” from Purple Rain (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture) (1984)
The director of the semi-autobiographical film, Purple Rain, commissioned Prince to write a song that fit the mood of a scene in the film where Prince and his lover are fighting. They had no idea that this song would become one of the biggest hits of Prince’s career. The song reached number one both in the US and in Canada and made the top ten in many other countries around the world. In the song, Prince compares his struggling relationship with his girlfriend to the shortcomings of his own parents (who Prince had many struggles with in real life.) “Maybe I’m just too demanding/Maybe I’m just like my father too bold/Maybe you’re just like my mother/She’s never satisfied”, coos Prince over a digital sheen with no bass on the track. That’s right; Prince had a number one hit with no bass in it.
- “Kiss” from Parade (1986)
This is the other Prince song that nearly everyone knows. After the critical and commercial slump that was the psychedelic Around the World in a Day, Prince returned to his funk roots on this 1986 mega-hit. Featuring an equally balanced scale of digital synths and amazing funky guitar, Prince delivers hands down one of his greatest vocal performances, singing in a seductive whisper during the verses before tearing his voice into a chorus that is truly worthy of James Brown and the like. The song may also be a subtle social commentary, however, as Prince sings, “You don’t have to be rich to be my girl/you don’t have to be cool to rule my world”. Like the best of his work, Prince exudes that love will always be the answer.
- “U Got the Look” from Sign O’ the Times (1987)
This track is the ultimate synth-blues track. Opening the second disc of what is considered to be Prince’s last truly classic work, “U Got the Look” features a pitch-shifted, ultra-feminine sounding Prince over a chorus of synth and heavily processed guitars. This song was originally meant to be on the abandoned Camille album, which was a concept album about Princes androgynous alter ego. It is by no means uninvited, however, on Sign O’ the Times, which is Prince’s most critically acclaimed record.