A year on from Prince’s untimely death at the age of 57, I thought I would share some of my favourite tracks from the star (for the full playlist, go to the end of this post).
Starting off in the late 70s with ‘Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?’ from Prince’s second album Prince (which also features ‘I Feel For You’, later made famous by Chaka Khan), this song is beautiful funk rock and that guitar solo is just irresistible. It’s also crazy to think that Prince was only 21 when this was released.
Moving into the 1980s, the title track from Prince’s fourth album, ‘Controversy’ addresses the speculation surrounding him at the time: “I just can’t believe all the things people say… Am I black or white, am I straight or gay?”. Like many of Prince’s tracks, it is ahead of its time and as relevant today as it was in 1981. It is also happens to be ridiculously catchy and of course, funky.
A year later Prince released 1999 which features some of his biggest hits – one of which is the stunning ‘Little Red Corvette’. In the same vein as Springsteen’s ‘Pink Cadillac’, Prince utilises the 80s “car as a metaphor for a woman” trope to an electric effect as he screams “You must be a limousine!” An 80s classic.
In 1984 Prince released Purple Rain, the soundtrack inspired by the film of the same name and his most famous album, (to date it has sold over 22 million copies worldwide). The album is jam-packed with tunes but there are two clear standouts for me. Firstly the opening track ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ with its iconic opening verse: “Dearly beloved, we are are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” A hugely energetic fireball of a song, it nearly explodes at the end and I wish to God I had experienced it live. Equally as feel-good and supercharged is ‘Baby I’m A Star’, one of my top 5 favourite songs of all time. The transition into the track from ‘I Would Die 4 U’ is seamless and if you have not had a full-on dance session while playing it at full volume in your bedroom, then you are really missing out. Trust me.
Prince’s 1986 album Parade also features some of my favourites, albeit for very different reasons. ‘Kiss’ was one of the first Prince tracks I ever heard and I have danced to it countless times since. He really is in his prime with this song as he balances seduction with genuine affection. Also on Parade is the beautiful ballad ‘Sometimes It Snows in April’, where Prince’s talents as a lyricist are on full display. Providing a real contrast to tracks like ‘Kiss’, here Prince is stripped back and emotional as he laments on death and grief.
More often than not, however, my favourite Prince tracks are dripping with bold sexuality and electric funk. 1987’s Sign o’ the Times is a wonderfully varied and rich album and has something for every mood, however I find myself continuously coming back to two tracks in particular. ‘It’ is a purely addictive song with its gorgeous slick beat and in those last 60 seconds of instrumental you can clearly hear the inspiration for modern synth-poppers such as Christine & the Queens.
However, ‘U Got the Look’ is without a doubt my favourite Prince song. It has the perfect blend of pop, rock and funk, along with Sheena Easton’s fantastic vocals and I can’t help but fall for it every time I hear it.
Finally, I have to mention a track from Prince’s soundtrack for Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989. My personal favourite is ‘Partyman’, which is featured in the art gallery scene in the film where Jack Nicholson’s Joker playfully defaces some priceless art. Unlike many soundtracks, this song does not need its context to be enjoyed but I think it’s fair to say that the song really does make the scene.
You can listen to the full playlist here: