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EW top 10 Prince songs

Old 04-18-04, 10:34 AM
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EW top 10 Prince songs

Courtesy of

We pick Prince's 10 best songs. See what made our purple
playlist -- and suggest your own by Brian Hiatt

ALL 4 U Prince's best songs span rock, R&B, funk, and more

As with other pop geniuses (Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, William Hung), it's impossible to narrow down Prince's mighty catalog to a mere 10 songs. But we did it anyway. Here's a decade-spanning playlist (arranged in chronological order) that offers a glimpse at his purple prowess.

''When You Were Mine'' (''Dirty Mind,'' 1980)
With its perky keyboard riff and eighth-note guitar strum, you could easily mistake ''When You Were Mine'' for a Cars song. But then Prince begins singing -- in a high, feminine register -- about a lover who ''didn't have the decency to change the sheets.'' Playing nearly every instrument heard on the song, Prince offers early proof that he was unbound by the strictures of genre, able to achieve musical cross-pollination -- in this case, R&B vocals atop a new-wave pop sound -- like no one else.

''Little Red Corvette'' (''1999,'' 1983)
It begins ominously, with swelling synthesizer chords, but ''Little Red Corvette'' is one of Prince's most joyous tunes. Its cars-and-girls lyrics plug him into a rock tradition that goes back to Chuck Berry, while the song's complexity -- multiple drum machine tracks, thick stacks of backing vocals, synthesized bass, and lyrical lead guitar -- propels it into what still sounds like an uncharted pop future. Baby, he was moving way too fast.

''When Doves Cry'' (''Purple Rain,'' 1984)
What DOES it sound like when doves cry? Apparently, it sounds like one of the most minimalist hit singles of all time. The song reached No. 1 despite a backing track consisting of just a drum machine and intermittent keyboards -- there's no bass line. The lack of distractions puts the focus on Prince's imaginative vocal arrangements (check out the deliberately robotic backing vocals on the line ''How could you just leave me standing''). One possible negative: Because of the song's video, it's impossible to hear it without picturing His Purpleness in a bathtub.

''Purple Rain'' (''Purple Rain,'' 1984)
The chiming rhythm guitar is nabbed from the Jimi Hendrix playbook, and the song structure from classic soul (think Sam Cooke's ''A Change Is Gonna Come''), but this anthem nonetheless belongs solely to Prince. Coming in at 8 minutes and 41 seconds (albeit not in the radio edit), ''Purple Rain'' remains his masterpiece, simultaneously combining and transcending all of his influences while showcasing his unmatched vocal range and underrated lead-guitar prowess (that's right, rock snobs -- the dude can shred).

''Erotic City'' (B-side to ''Let's Go Crazy,'' 1984)
It took a B-side to unleash Prince's nastiest impulses -- in a career full of sexy songs, ''Erotic City'' is among the most carnal (and most fun). ''We can funk until the dawn/ Making love till cherry's gone,'' the chorus goes -- but is the lyric really ''funk''? Paging Tipper Gore...

''Kiss'' (''Parade,'' 1986)
After the ''Purple Rain'' album, Prince got bogged down in baroque arrangements, but ''Kiss'' marked an end to that problem. Harkening back to the lean funk of his earliest work, it's a respectful nod to James Brown (with a guitar part torn from ''Poppa's Got a Brand New Bag''), and a reminder that Prince could be great even WITHOUT jumping genres. Plus, the guy has a hell of a falsetto.

''The Ballad of Dorothy Parker'' (''Sign O' the Times,'' 1987)
Prince's egomania makes it too easy to overlook his flashes of humor -- in ''Dorothy Parker,'' the protagonist orders a fruit cocktail for dinner, prompting the title character to label him a ''real man.'' Complementing its quirky lyrics, which include a nod to Joni Mitchell's ''Help Me,'' the song is notable for its musical oddity: It's loaded with dissonance -- from an off-kilter bass line to weird little keyboard stabs -- but somehow remains a catchy pop tune.

''Batdance'' (''Batman'' soundtrack, 1989)
Just kidding. But we do kinda like it.

''Money Don't Matter 2 Night'' (''Diamonds and Pearls,'' 1991)
Prince turned back toward R&B with his '90s band, the New Power Generation, and the richly arranged ''Money Don't Matter 2 Night'' set a template for the decade's slow jams (TLC's ''Waterfalls'' owes a particular debt). It also boasted one of Prince's most heartfelt vocal performances, and lyrics that offer an apt epitaph for the greed-is-good '80s: ''Just when you think you've got more than enough/ That's when it all up and flies away.''

''7'' (The Love Symbol Album, 1992)
With apocalyptic, mythology-packed lyrics, choir-o'-Princes backing vocals worthy of Queen, and a hand-clapping, gospelesque refrain, ''7'' is a neglected late-period high point. He was on the verge of changing his name to that hieroglyph (which, for the last time, was NOT pronounced ''Victor''), but hadn't yet descended into the inaccessibility that marked his late-'90s work.

''On the Couch'' (''Musicology,'' 2004)
Prince has proven that his latest comeback isn't just an onstage affair by releasing a sturdy new album, ''Musicology.'' The slow-building, retrosoul ballad ''On the Couch'' is an early favorite -- it finds our formerly womanizing hero amusingly reduced to begging to sleep in his own bed. ''Don't make me sleep on the couch,'' Prince howls, in an anguished falsetto, as Sam and Dave-style horns make the plea hard to resist.
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Old 04-18-04, 10:41 AM
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If I really had to only pick 10 here they are:

1. When Doves Cry
2. Strange Relationship
3. Sign of the Times
4. America
5. Paisley Park
6. Mountains
7. When You Were Mine
8. 17 Days
9. Little Red Corvette
10.I Would Die 4 u

Extremely difficult list to make up since Prince has made so many great songs.
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Old 04-18-04, 12:13 PM
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I would of thrown Cream in there.
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Old 04-18-04, 03:10 PM
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Little Red Corvette is definitely one of my top 3 favs from him. Remember Dez Dickerson on background vocals and that guitar solo in the middle is one of the best ever

The video is also awesome Prince was simply the coolest rock star during his 1999 & Purple Rain days. I miss The Revolution band

I also love "Uptown"
...white, black, peurto rican everybody's just a freakin'

"I could Never Take The Place"
"Thieves In The Temple"
"International Lover":
..If you expercienece turbulence you may use your seat cushion as a flowtation device

Last edited by shanester; 04-18-04 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 04-18-04, 04:08 PM
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i wanna be your lover!
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Old 04-18-04, 06:19 PM
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where is 'i would die for you' and 'sister'

glad 1999 didnt make it in their list.
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Old 04-18-04, 07:08 PM
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I liked that song The Greatest Love Ever Sold. There's even a remix with Eve.
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Old 04-18-04, 07:52 PM
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1. Purple Rain (the whole soundtrack)
2. Kiss (sorry great sing along song)
3. Raspberry Beret
4. Little Red Corvette
5. Cream
6. P Control
7. Diamonds & Pearls
8. Thieves In The Temple
9. I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man
10. Batdance
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Old 04-18-04, 08:38 PM
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THE CROSS off "Sign of the Times".
But not surprised EW didn't include it , since the way they have reviewed CREED music, THE PASSION OF CHRIST movie , Bill O'Reilly books in the past.
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Old 04-19-04, 03:05 AM
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So many great songs to Fav. 10...In no order...

1 - Let's Go Crazy

2 - The Most Beautiful Girl In The World

3 - Little Red Corvette

4 - Raspberry Beret

5 - I Would Die 4 U

6 - Controversy

7 - I Wanna Be Your Lover

8 - U Got The Look

9 - Purple Rain

10 - Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad
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Old 04-19-04, 09:51 AM
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Where is Dolphin?
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Old 04-19-04, 11:15 AM
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Dolphin? Interesting choice. Not one of my favourites.

My favourites switch all the time. Right now, I'm digging "The Question of U" and "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker." I also actually like "Electric Chair" and "The Future" off of the Batman soundtrack. I'm a huge freaking fan!!!
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Old 04-19-04, 11:17 AM
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I'd start my list with "When You Were Mine", "She's Always In My Hair", and "Starfish and Coffee". I don't know where I'd go from there. I do like ET's list a lot though.
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Old 04-19-04, 11:20 AM
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wendersfan-- Great songs!! I like EW's list too. I just made a mixed CD for my Mom (? just trying to get everyone into Prince) and I included those songs (except for "When You Were Mine"--she might think it was weird. I really love "She's Always in my Hair" and "Starfish and Coffee."

Actually all the tracks on SOTT are pretty good. I really like "Slow Love," "Forever in My Life," "It" and "Hot Thing" as well.
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Old 04-19-04, 12:19 PM
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My personal favorites

1. Take me with u
2. When Doves cry
3. Kiss
4. Automatic
5. Cream
6. Gett off
7. Push
8. housequake
9. raspberry beret
10. 1999
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Old 04-19-04, 01:05 PM
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I'll go with:

Let's Go Crazy
Let's Pretend We're Married
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
I Wish U Heaven
Sometimes It Snows In April
The Beautiful Ones
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
Pop Life
Play In The Sunshine
Eye No
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Old 04-19-04, 03:10 PM
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Darling Nikki MUST be on that list, even if only for the controversy that arose with it (and it's a great song)
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Old 04-19-04, 03:31 PM
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One of my top ten list (but I understand not on others) is International Lover. Just because I was about 9 when it came out and I knew every word. Don't know that I knew what they meant, but it was the first song that realized was "sexy".
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Old 04-19-04, 04:49 PM
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Old 04-19-04, 05:59 PM
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Tough to decide, but here's my top ten (as of right now)

Darling Nikki
Raspberry Beret
Slow Love
Starfish & Coffee
Good Love
Alphabet St.
Can't Stop This Feeling I Got
She's Always In My Hair
P Control
I Wonder

Runners up
Jack U Off
I Like It There
Little Red Corvette
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Old 04-19-04, 11:14 PM
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Erotic City
Soft & Wet!

C'mon...where's the dirty sh!t?
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Old 04-19-04, 11:36 PM
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HERE's my list.

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Old 04-20-04, 08:49 PM
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Annie Christian
4 The Tears In Your Eyes
The Beautiful Ones
Computer Blue
17 Days
Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?
International Lover
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Old 04-21-04, 02:58 PM
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Old 04-21-04, 03:20 PM
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I like 17 Days alot as well, but I always liked Living Colour's version better than Prince's version.
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