As I continue my top ten lists I find myself quickly looking at the extraordinary Prince.
When originally thinking about doing these lists it was Prince who came to mind almost immediately given the sheer amount of output and the personal enjoyment I get out of so much of his work.
Prince is an artist who many say they are “not the biggest fan of” and I don’t know if this is actually to do with his music or to do with the way he presented himself which many found a little to weird for their tastes.
From a musical point of view everyone seems to have a favourite Prince song as he went through so many different periods of change in his musical and visual style that it is always likely that someone will find something they like.
My list is simply the top 10 songs that I find the most enjoyable. It’s not a definitive list of the best songs he ever recorded because everyone’s tastes are different and I am sure I am going to include some that many would never have near a list of great songs by the Purple one.
Prince released 39 albums in his long career so there has been much to choose from but I have finally narrowed it down to what I have enjoyed the most.
Notable mentions: Scandalous [Batman], If I Was Ur Girlfriend [Sign ‘O’ The Times], Let’s Go Crazy [Purple Rain], When Doves Cry [Purple Rain], Call My Name [Musicology].
10. Lady Cab Driver
Album: 1999 (1982) Writer(s): Prince Producer: Prince
Taken from the hit album 1999 this song is probably the most overlooked on the entire album with little reference being made to it in reviews and discussion about the album yet I think it is an absolute gem.
It’s a length song at 08:19m but it’s such a chilled out funky track that I can’t get enough of it. This track is fun and full of character that Prince is often able to bring out in his songs and whilst I know some will be looking at this now and thinking that in a top 10 list of Prince songs I shouldn’t be bringing out an album track (especially from any album that has a number of singles to choose from) but this is MY list and I love this song.
The funky bass and the snare on the drum make the instrumental really engaging and he flows over the sexy and sultry vocal Prince produces.
Help me girl I’m drownin’, mass confusion in my head
Will you accept my tears to pay the fare?
Album: 3121 (2006) Writer(s): Prince Producer: Prince
This is probably the most obscure song on my list with it coming from the 2006 album 3121. Not an album that many would consider a Prince classic yet I thought it had some great songs on there especially this one which I loved from the moment I first heard it.
This track is all about the melody and once you have heard it a couple of times it will earworm it’s way into your brain and stay there.
The additional female vocals from Tamar Davis are sung in harmony with Prince on the chorus and make a really great mix.
The funky and dirty beat take it away from being a typical Prince sounding song but the elements that we know so well (that funky guitar) are all present.
Stop worrying about what people say
When it ain’t going to stop them anyway
Love can do anything if you try
Come on… Spread your wings… Let’s fly, fly so high
8. Raspberry Beret
Album: Around The World In A Day (1985) Writer(s): Prince Producer: Prince
“Raspberry Beret” was a song that I initially did not include on this list but when I went back to listen to it I realise how much I really did enjoy this song. It’s fun, its a slice of pop that makes me want to dance and sing. It does it’s job perfectly.
Lyrically it might be a little more redundant that other songs Prince has released but ultimately the appeal of this track is more that just it’s lyrical content.
From the moment the beat hits at the start and he counts from one to four I am hooked and the inclusion of the strings make this sound sound rich and full.
Listen, they say the first time ain’t the greatest
But I tell you, if I had the chance to do it all again
I wouldn’t change a stroke
7. Erotic City
Album: The Hits / The B Sides (1993) Writer(s): Prince Producer: Prince
“Erotic City” was the B side to 1984’s single “Let’s Go Crazy”. The only album it can be found on is the Hits and B sides compilation which was released in 1993 although unlike two of the songs on this list it is at least available on streaming formats such as Spotify.
When I first heard this song I think the whole vulgarity of the lyrics just excited me which sounds like an odd thing but when you’re young things like that do!
It’s Prince at his finest as he explores sexuality with an ease like no other could.
Every time I comb my hair
Thoughts of you get in my eyes
You’re a sinner, I don’t care
I just want your creamy thighs
6. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
Album: The Beautiful Experience EP (1994) Writer(s): Prince Producer: Prince, Ricky Peterson
This song was released in the days where he went by the title “The Artist Formally Known As Prince” in a time that he was in dispute with his record label.
“The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” amazingly is his only UK number one single and for me it is just a all round fantastic song.
To have a title such as this the song sets itself up to be overly saccharine but there is something about the style in which Prince delivers this in almost all falsetto that just has you loving the vibe.
A great song.
And when the night falls before that day I will cry
I will cry tears of joy ’cause after you all one can do is die, oh
5. I Would Die 4 U
Album: Purple Rain (1984) Writer(s): Prince Producer: Prince
Urgh I love this song. The scattered beats, the pained delivery of the lyrics and the utter desperation of this declaration of love. It’s a song that captures a pure rawness of Prince’s music. Taken from the “Purple Rain” album “I Would Die 4 U” is just a fucking awesome track, full of pure awesomeness from awesomeville.
I’ll never beat you
I’ll never lie
And if you’re evil I’ll forgive you by and by
4. Money Don’t Matter 2 Night
Album: Diamonds and Pearls (1991) Writer(s): Prince, Rosie Gaines Producer: Prince
Without a doubt this is the smoothest song on the list and a song that deals with poverty, money and greed. I love how Prince uses his vocal on this song as you can feel the strain in what he is trying to say. This song I always thought never really fitted on Diamonds and Pearls but it an utterly superb song. It sounds as if it never dated and and is timeless.
So what if we’re controllin’ all the oil,
Is it worth a child dying for? (is it worth it?)
If long life is what we all live for
Then long life will come to pass
3. Diamonds and Pearls
Album: Diamonds and Pearls (1991) Writer(s): Prince Producer: Prince
You know when you hear a start of a song and you instantly think “awwww”? Well this is the track that always does it for me. The intro goes on for 35 seconds and gets you ready for Prince using the deep register of his voice. When the chorus kicks in you can prominently hear the voice of Rosie Gaines who absolutely kills it on this song.
This song is a quintessential Prince track. It’s soulful yet dramatic like a Rock ballad. It flows oddly yet makes sense despite all the key changes. It’s a song that I hold close to my heart and I don’t understand how anyone could hate on this.
If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
If I could I would give you the world
But all I can do is just offer you my love
Album: Dirty Mind (1980) Writer(s): Prince Producer: Prince
“Uptown” is a song of Princes I think I found later in life and never understood how I missed it. I hadn’t really focussed on “Dirty Mind” enough but sat down over a period of time and loved it. (Click for my review of Dirty Mind)
This song has everything. It’s uptempo, funky, funny, memorable and just a wonderfully produced piece of music. Prince of course plays every instrument on the album and delivers a song that is about being around the night life of Minneapolis and how people can make snap judgments on how someone looks or carries themselves.
I love this song.
Now where I come from
We don’t let society tell us how it’s supposed to be
Our clothes, our hair, we don’t care
It’s all about being there
1. I Wanna Be Your Lover
Album: Prince (1979) Writer(s): Prince Producer: Prince
No matter how many albums or how many singles Prince would release I always kept going back to the beginning of things (his 2nd album to be precise) for this funk classic.
This track has just stood the test of time yet it still features some of those Prince style overtly sexual lyrics that he would explore on the following album.
“I Wanna Be Your Lover” is just a great song. I could write a ton of superlatives about the track but I just urge you to listen to my favourite Prince song of all time.
I want to turn you on, turn you out
All night long, make you shout
Oh, lover, yeah!
I want to be the only one you come for
Prince Rogers Nelson (1958-2016)