Despite the fact that both “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “1999” were strong singles for Prince — landing at #11 and #12 respectively — it was really “Little Red Corvette” that began Prince’s imperial phase: for the next decade Prince singles were far more likely to reach the top 10 than not, an utterly remarkable thing considering how much the scene was changing, and how he was continually mixing things up.
And, of course, in early 1983, “Little Red Corvette” was both inescapable and inevitable, getting ridiculous amounts of airplay on MTV, top 40 radio, and yes, even on college radio, or at least KFSR, where it was obvious to a lot of the DJs that what Prince was doing was as experimental as anything else we were playing.
35 years later, it’s hard to imagine just how weird Prince’s fusion of rock, r&b, synth-pop and gospel (those harmony vocals) sounded in early 1983, but what isn’t hard to imagine is just how primal the hook was, even as it traded on the hoary old girl-as-car cliche.
Little red Corvette
Baby, you’re much too fast
Little red Corvette
Need to find a love that’s gonna last, hey hey
But between the harmonies, the synthetic handclaps, the guitar hooks and the keyboard flourishes, the chorus of “Little Red Corvette” was so stuffed with goodies you might not notice that Prince is scolding his one-night stand even as he’s taking full advantage of the situation.
But once again, that’s just quibbling: “Little Red Corvette” is a pop juggernaut, continually building toward that chorus, and then expertly breaking down for verses, solos, and even the interlude where he’s fucking her and they’re both screaming with delight.
“Little Red Corvette”
“Little Red Corvette” official music video
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