I wrote this last year for another forum last year, but now with Prince's new 3-disc album coming next week, it will become obsolete. So since I put a lot of work into it, I figured I'd repost it here, roughly 20 a day leading up to the physical release of the new album. It's possible some of you may have read this already, so if you have, don't spoil it!
Anyway, Prince is one of my all-time favorite artists, and is truly one of the most talented musicians ever. I have over 1000 Prince tracks on my computer, but this list only includes songs from all of his studio albums, and some officially released b-sides;not unofficial releases or live recordings. Still, that means there were over 300 songs eligible for the list, and I found it very tough to narrow down the best of them. Even the songs towards the end of the list are excellent in my opinion. I should note that the reviews start out very short, but get longer as it goes on.
Hopefully there are more Prince fanatics on this board that would want to read this; if not, I'd highly recommend those unfamiliar with Prince to check out these songs!
100. Live 4 Love (Diamonds & Pearls)
This is one of the few gems on an otherwise terrible album. One thing I should note is that I actually really like the rapper from the New Power Generation, Tony M. This song is driven by a cool hip hop beat, with two great guitar solos and nice verses from both Prince and Tony M.
99. Elephants & Flowers (Graffiti Bridge)
There’s not much to say about this one. This is from another one of Prince’s weak albums. It’s somewhat repetitive, but overall a good song
98. Lolita (3121)
A nice synth pop song from a great album, Lolita is somewhat of a throwback to classic Prince. I really like the beat, and also the hilariously stupid self censorship. (“A long time ago, we’d be the sh- uh-oh”)
97. Prettyman (Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic)
Although it was only a hidden track on the album, it easily outshines most of it. With a funky beat and some pretty funny self-deprecating lyrics, it’s a fun song on an album that seemed too concerned with following the trends of the mainstream at the time.
96. Chaos & Disorder (Chaos & Disorder)
Although Chaos & Disorder is often written off as a contractual obligation album, I think it’s a good, if not entirely original, album. This is a great straight up rock song, and I think there are too few of those in Prince’s discography.
95. Race (Come)
Come is another album that’s usually viewed as a contract-fulfiller, and it does have a lot of filler, but there are some great songs on it, like this one. Nothing mind-blowing about it, just a good bass line with mostly rapped lyrics and a nice horn part.
94. 1999 (1999)
Okay, I know you were thinking this would be way higher, but when it comes down to it, this just doesn’t stand out next to the rest of 1999 (my favorite Prince album). Maybe it’s because I’ve heard it too much, but it just doesn’t grab me like the rest of the album.
93. 7 (The Love Symbol Album)
This is a great single from another one of my favorite Prince albums. A simple pop song, with a good beat and cool vocals.
92. Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic (Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic)
This is a good throwback to 80s Prince, mainly because it was released over 10 years after it was originally written. The vocals are somewhat grating (the original version is much better in this department), but the music is great. Classic weird Prince
91. Planet Earth (Planet Earth)
This song almost plays like a mini Purple Rain, with gentle piano opening that eventually builds up to a great guitar solo. The lyrics are pretty cheesy, but those were never his strong point.
90. Pheromone (Come, 1994)
I’m not such a fan of the intro to this song, where Prince whispers creepy come ons into (I assume it’s supposed to be sexy…) over sounds of the ocean. Not that the rest of the song doesn’t have a creepy vibe to it, as it’s about Prince spying on a kinky sexual encounter. This song has a good beat to it, but what I really like about this one is the vocals, particularly in the chorus.
89. I Feel For You (Prince, 1979)
I find the majority of Prince’s pre-80s work to be pretty boring, but this is one of the exceptions. This song has disco-y rhythm to it, and a great synth melody. I’ve always thought the frankness of the lyrics were funny (“I wouldn’t lie to you baby, I’m physically attracted to you”). The vocals are very typical of early Prince, and while the instrumentation is good, it just doesn’t reach the highs of songs shortly after this time.
88. Family Name (The Rainbow Children, 2001)
When I started really getting into Prince, I put off getting The Rainbow Children for a long time because I’d heard it was really bad. True, the spoken word parts of the album take a little getting used to, but this is a concept album (albeit one about ridiculous religious beliefs). This song is somewhat hard to describe, but I think the best description would be “prog-funk”. It starts out with a computerized voice talking about minorities over some cool instrumentation, which leads into the main part of the song, which slowly builds into a hard rock closing/guitar solo, that, if it weren’t for Prince’s scream, could pass as part of a Mars Volta song. Overall, a great song.
87. Eye Hate U (The Gold Experience, 1995)
This is a courtroom drama slow-jam, with Prince putting his former lover on trial for breaking his heart. Though the idea of a love-hate relationship is overused in music, he manages to make this one not seem too silly with some clever lyrics. This song builds up from a quiet jam to a great, but way too short guitar solo, with great vocals throughout.
86. The Ride (Crystal Ball, 1998)
This is a blues-rock song, that I think makes it pretty clear that Prince is a Hendrix fan. There isn’t much in the way of lyrics to this one; it’s mainly an excuse for Prince to showcase his amazing guitar playing skills, which I definitely have no problem with.
85. Emancipation (Emancipation, 1996)
Emancipation (a three disc, three hour album) is considered by many to be loaded with filler, but I think the main problem with this album is that there it’s simply too consistently “good” and rarely “great”. Truly, there aren’t many songs on it I would consider bad. Emancipation is the closing track to the album, and is basically Prince declaring his freedom from his record label. It’s one of the funkiest tracks on the album, with good use of horns.
84. Thieves In The Temple (Graffiti Bridge, 1990)
This is one of Prince’s few top 10 hits since the 80s, which is a shame. One thing I like about this track is the variety of sounds incorporated into it. Despite the loud drum beat, and the angry layered vocals, it sounds vaguely Middle Eastern, and there are few songs in Prince’s catalogue that sound like this one. One thing I would’ve pointed out in this song is the solo, which I always thought was a distorted guitar solo, but I recently learned that it’s actually a sampled harmonica solo.
83. Girls & Boys (Parade, 1986)
Though I think Parade is easily Prince’s worst album of the 80s, there’s no denying that it has some fantastic songs. Girls and Boys is a pretty odd song, combining saxophone with a really weird sounding synth part, some French spoken word, and what is probably one of Prince’s first raps . It would be much higher on the list if it was half as long, as it really drags near the end.
82. Dirty Mind (Dirty Mind, 1980)
I felt pretty weird purchasing this album, and I’m sure that most people that have felt the same way. It was totally worth it, though, since Dirty Mind is the first truly great Prince album. Driven by a pulsing drum beat and a great keyboard riff, this track is an excellent opener to the album, and though it’s somewhat repetitive, it never gets boring.
81. Last December (The Rainbow Children, 2001)
This song goes through several sounds, starting out as a gentle pop ballad which leads into a gospel-like section. Then, it abruptly transforms into a hard rock song with a great guitar solo, which leads into a somewhat Middle-Eastern sounding instrumental section. Finally, it builds into a choir-like finish, and it’s a great end to the album. One problem I have with this song (though it didn’t affect the ranking) is how preachy it is (The chorus is “In the name of the Father / In the name of the Son / We need to come together / Come together as one”) but overall it’s a pretty epic sounding song.
80. I Wanna Be Your Lover (Prince, 1979)
Prince sure knows how to pick great opening tracks. This Is another great discoish song and it was his first big hit. The first half of the song is an excellent pop song, and while the second half is a little too long, it is a great funky instrumental.
79. Loose! (Come, 1994)
This song is somewhat technoish, but it really rocks. It’s the most upbeat song on Come, with some really cool synth along with two good guitar solos (introduced with “guitar solo”) The vocals are mostly shouted, but there isn’t too much on it, and they are probably the worst part of the song. This is one song that probably would be a lot better as just an instrumental.
78. Musicology (Musicology, 2004)
It’s a shame that Musicology was Prince’s “comeback” album, considering every album he released in the 00s was better. One of the few saving graces on an otherwise lackluster album, this is a great funk song that recalls Prince’s classic years while not sounding like a rehash.
77. The Morning Papers (The Love Symbol Album, 1992)
The Love Symbol Album has got to be Prince’s most underrated album. I see so many copies of it every time I go to the used CD store, and they’re usually $3 or less. This is an excellent pop rock song accented by a good horn part. The song has a great melody that builds up to a beautiful guitar solo that ends the song.
76. Get Yo Groove On (Emancipation, 1996)
The main reason this song is on this list is because I really like the sound of plucked orchestra instruments, though it also features great instrumentals, and is simply put, a great dance song. It manages to not feel too long, despite being almost 7 minutes.
75. Black Sweat (3121, 2006)
This is kind of a modern day Kiss. The minimalism of it is great, with most of the song consisting only of a drum beat and Prince singing, with a cool high pitched synth added in from time to time. Though, as I said, it’s very reminiscent of Kiss, it doesn’t sound like a retread at all, nor does it sound dated.
74. The One U Wanna C (Planet Earth, 2007)
This is a great straight up pop song that probably should’ve been released as a single. I really like the riff and bass line, but it does go on for a little too long (and from the sound of the end, it probably went on for longer). It does have some pretty stupid lyrics, but it’s very catchy and fun to sing along to.
73. Face Down (Emancipation, 1996)
This song is basically Prince doing gangsta rap diss track, with a great beat similar to the style of the early 90s, though it’s a bit more musical. It’s got some pretty funny parts (like the “orchestra”, and well, the idea of Prince doing a gangsta rap diss track), and one of Prince’s best raps (though that isn’t saying much).
72. Love 2 The 9’s (The Love Symbol Album, 1992)
Another great pop song from The Love Symbol Album, this song starts out as a nice, jazzy pop song, but it morphs into a hip hop song halfway through, with Prince forgoing the falsetto of the first half for primarily rapped verses, a good beat, and some cool scratches. Both halves are good, and it manages to
71. Billy Jack ***** (The Gold Experience, 1995)
Though I really like the riff in this song, this is another song that would have benefitted from being a little shorter. Musically, it’s excellent, with nice solos from the guitar and keyboard and funky horn outro, but there’s a lot of repetition in the lyrics (the word ***** is said at least 50 times throughout the course of the song.) Despite dragging a bit, it’s still an excellent song.
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