It took Michael Jackson five years to follow up Thriller. It took Bruce Springsteen three years to follow up Born In The U.S.A. It took Madonna two years to follow up Like a Virgin.
It took Prince ten months to follow up Purple Rain.
That said, after I heard the underwhelming (despite the pure pop glory of “Raspberry Beret”) Around The World in a Day, I started a pattern with Prince that I’ve kept up for three decades: I started dipping in and out of his discography.
Album: Purple Rain
Literally don’t even know where to start here. How about this: this was Prince’s signature song. Sure, he had bigger singles (and in fact, cutting the “Purple Rain” down to 4:05 for its single was as stupid as when The Who cut “Won’t Get Fooled Again” down to 3:36, I mean why even bother?), but I don’t think he had a bigger song. On every level.
I mean, you could imagine going to a Prince concert and not seeing any other song, but going to a Prince concert and not seeing “Purple Rain” seems totally unimaginable.
Album: Purple Rain
The utterly monster lead single from the quintillion-platinum Purple Rain, “When Doves Cry” is the sound of Prince having it … I was gonna say “both ways,” but we all know that “both ways” was probably boring to Prince.
So let’s just say that Prince had it every single fucking way he wanted with “When Doves Cry.”
12″ Single, 1984
With its gospel opening, punk rock speed and blazing guitar solos, “Let’s Go Crazy” was already my favorite song on Purple Rain even before it was released as a single.
But when I heard the extended “Special Dance Version” in the summer of 1984, “Let’s Go Crazy” became my favorite Prince song full stop, and with the possible exception of “The Cross,” it has remained so.
The inconification of Prince starts right here. While “1999” didn’t become a hit single until it was re-released in the wake of the success of “Little Red Corvette” it kicked off the album with an explosion of nuclear paranoia.
In 1982, 1999 was as far away in the future as 2016 was from 1999. So writing a song about partying on the edge of the presumed millennial apocalypse somehow felt both futuristic and fun. And “Tonight, we’re gonna party like it’s 1999” instantly became part the lexicon.