It’s hard to argue that Prince is one of the most talented and versatile musicians to ever set foot in a recording studio. Since 1978, he’s released over 30 albums, had dozens of hit singles, a few movies, and sold out concert venues from his hometown of Minneapolis to Japan.
With a catalog as vast as his, picking his ten best songs is no easy task. We’re still not sure that this list is complete. We’ve left off quite a few songs. There’s no “I Wanna Be Your Lover” on the list. “Uptown?” That didn’t make it either. “Let’s Go Crazy?” Not this time.
10. When You Were Mine
Prince’s third album, 1980′s Dirty Mind, was what most people would call a “departure” record. Gone were the disco influences that shaped songs like “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Soft & Wet.” In their place were shades of the punk rock and new wave scenes that were beginning to take hold of America at the time. “When You Were Mine” manages to combine the new wave influence with an admitted Beatles-esque sensibility that provides the soundtrack to Prince’s obsession with an ex.
9. Pop Life
In 1985, Prince followed up the massive success of the Purple Rain album and film with Around The World In A Day, a psychedelic pop record that only someone as weird as Prince could make. Despite its many nods to psychedelia, one of ATWIAD’s best songs was “Pop Life,” a song that addresses social issues like the dangers of drugs.
Influenced by R&B ballads by singers like Anita Baker and Luther Vandross, one of Prince’s biggest songs that never became a single was “Adore,” the final song on Prince’s sprawling 1987 double album, Sign O’ The Times. Prince toes the line between the sacred and profane with the song’s churchy instrumentation, and erotic lyrics. The song also is home to the classic lyric “You could burn up my clothes / Smash up my ride / Well maybe not the ride…”
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7. Purple Rain
We all know this song, which probably owes more to the traditions of country music than to R&B. The nearly nine-minute album version is a revelation with Prince’s extended guitar solo. There’s a reason why Prince performs this song at nearly every concert he does.