A look at Prince’s most Iconic Songs of the 80’s and 90’s
It seems like yesterday, but 17 months have already gone by since Prince’s death. For me it’s not very hard to remember the exact date, 21st of April. My birthday is only two days earlier. As I still cannot get used to the fact that he’s gone and also consider that his legacy lives on, I’ll probably talk about him in the present tense most of the time.
Prince is one of those artists who, even if you don’t really like him, there’s always at least a song that brings memories or that you hate to love. You just can’t hate or ignore his entire discography.
And this is because Prince has been performing and entertaining for nearly 4 decades. Can you imagine how many generations he has been able to reach? His first album was released in 1978 and he was a prolific musician: he released over 40 albums (including soundtracks). Wow, that’s amazing, isn’t it.
Prince imprinted a mark onto the face of pop culture
What cannot be denied is the fact that his numerous hits, his outlandish style, his iconic performances and his unorthodox personality have imprinted an everlasting mark upon the face of pop culture.
So, having such a long, successful and prolific career in music, I’m sure that there must be at least a couple of Prince songs that really touch you in one way or another. It doesn’t matter if they are from his early work (1978 – 1984) which includes his master piece Purple Rain; if they belong to the late 1980s and into the 90s, (here´s another of my favourites, Sign O’ the Times); or if the songs you like are more “millennial”.
Some of Prince Iconic Songs
This post is not about reviewing Prince tracks. It’s an introductory article to highlight how Prince is one of the most prolific music artists in history and how, because of that, I really find it impossible that, amongst so many, someone cannot rescue from their memory a couple of Prince’s songs they really like. Well, today I’m here to help to do just that.
Let’s recall some of Prince iconic songs to refresh the memory of some. Although, I repeat, this is not a review of the songs. That will come in a later post.
I’m sure some readers will think that I’m choosing songs that are quite old, but I’m sorry, these 10 are the ones I like the most, some of them being true masterpieces:
#10. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (The Gold Experience, Prince and the New Power Generation – 1995)
This single was the first to be released under his symbol rather than his name, Prince. One smooth and apparently effortless ballad dedicated to Mayte García, whom Prince later would marry.
#9. Raspberry Beret (Around the World in a Day, Prince and The Revolution – 1985)
Some people would argue that the 9th place is unfair to such an iconic masterpiece. Perhaps they are right, but as I’ve said before, this is not really a review. This track arrived in a rather disappointing album, in which the iconic Raspberry Beret seems to not fit. This song is undoubtedly one of Prince’s best.
#8. Controversy (Controversy, Prince – 1981)
During the 80s, Prince had to deal with some media and public criticism due to his sexual lyrics. In his great track, and without compromising his sound, Prince puts out how absurd he finds all the conjecture about his sexual orientation, his race, does he believe in god, etc. So funky.
#7. Let’s go crazy (Purple Rain, Prince and The Revolution – 1984)
This is one of my all-time favourite intros to a song.
Dearly beloved, Prince begins,
We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.
The declaration of unity and his emblematic monologue gives us a sneak view of what the rest of the song is going to be about: It’s an invitation to live life to its full, and that means that we need to not let the elevator of life bring us down.
#6. Alphabet Street (Lovesexy, Prince – 1988)
Alphabet St., surprisingly, didn’t get banned upon release despite its explicit lyrics about oral sex. This makes it even more noteworthy.
#5. 1999 (1999, Prince – 1982)
This track contains every bit of Prince’s musical genius. As I read somewhere, with this song, dancing on the table is a necessity. So, turn up the volume and party like it’s 1999.
#4. Take me with U and I Would Die 4 U (Purple Rain, Prince and The Revolution – 1984)
I couldn’t decide between these two tracks in Purple Rain, so let’s make a pair here.
In Take me with U, Prince makes clear that he can put out a romantic song, that he is not only a genius musically, but he can also be sweet and feel love like anyone else. When you listen to the song you wish you were in love right now.
As per I would die 4U, the above also applies, but he also proclaims that there should not be societal impositions or gender roles when it comes to love.
#3. When Doves Cry (Purple Rain, Prince and The Revolution – 1984)
This track gave Prince his first number 1 single. I find it quite dramatic while romantic at the same time, but I guess that was exactly the point. It mixes family issues with love, two themes that are not often seen together (Madonna did it in her Like a Prayer single Oh Father).
#2. Sign O’ The Times (Sign O’ The Times, Prince – 1987)
Prince’s Sign O’ The Times is a protest song with a social message that includes AIDS, drug addiction, poverty, gang culture, and so many other things. The lyrics are so strong and far reaching because there are no euphemisms or flowery metaphors. Prince calls each of these problems by their name, without embellishment. Musically it pushed some musical boundaries too, mixing soft blues guitar with minimal electronic sounds. It seems that he didn’t want the actual music to distract the audience from his message. He wanted to be listened to.
I guess it’s one of my favourites because I’m very fond of discussing these subject matters quite often too.
#1. Purple Rain (Purple Rain, Prince and The Revolution – 1984)
I think that all great artists have a masterpiece. It also sometime happens that one cannot decide between two or three masterpieces! It’s usually THE item that is closest to perfection and that sets them apart from others.
As I say in my track by track review of Purple Rain, I have no doubt that this album is his masterpiece. Technically, lyrically and emotionally brilliant, Purple Rain is what it is because it’s a perfect combination of all the things we love about Prince.
So there. Even if you are not a big fan of Prince, I’m sure that you’ve hummed some of those songs more than once.