Five At 55: Happy Birthday, Prince

Clash selects five standout singles...
Prince

Pint-sized pop god Prince is 55 today. Today being June 7th. Fifty-five years young. Here’s hoping for many more years of music from the Purple One – an artist who, even when he’s not exactly firing on all cylinders, is more than capable of turning heads, whatever his latest creation.

To mark his birthday, Clash thought it’d throw together a little sampler, of sorts, featuring just five of Prince’s best tracks. Which, given he’s been putting out albums since 1978, has scored numerous top-10 hits and sold over 100 million records (we know, right?), isn’t exactly easy.

So, let’s not be silly and cite the below as anything ‘definitive’. We all have our favourite Prince songs. These are some of ours. Tweet us your own choices, and we can all boogie down together, clinking a glass to toast Prince’s ongoing genius.

The man might be small, but these tracks stand tall, and quite probably will do forever…

What? No ‘Batdance’?

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‘Little Red Corvette’ (1983)

A massive breakthrough, this single, from the ‘1999’ album, smashed its way into the US top 10, outperforming said album’s still-evergreen title-cut. The song’s video enjoyed significant MTV rotation, too, introducing Prince – then already on his fifth album – to a massive new audience.

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‘I Would Die 4 U’ (1984)

No list, however small, of Brilliant Prince Tracks can be without at least one selection from the superb ‘Purple Rain’ album – and Clash has gone and plucked two here. Our first, ‘I Would Die 4 U’ was the fourth single lifted from ‘Purple Rain’, and was another top-10 hit for its maker, then accompanied by backing band The Revolution. ‘I Would Die 4 U’ is one of the greatest love songs ever, and also one of the best dance tracks, too. Released in late November, the single carried a festive B-side, ‘Another Lonely Christmas’.

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‘Purple Rain’ (1984)

There are, still, no words. They all get stuck somewhere between thought and speech.

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‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ (1987)

The significance of Prince’s ‘87 LP, ‘Sign O’ The Times’, cannot be overstressed. It didn’t tear away from the blocks in terms of sales; but to this day it’s one of those albums that repeat listens still haven’t completely cracked: like ‘Innervisions’, or ‘The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads’. It was a real labour-intensive album, said to be Prince’s most expensive at the time, and arrived spread across two 40-ish-minute discs. Not the easiest album to digest, then, especially with its weighty themes of social injustices and unexpected tangents on the topic of love. But ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ is a fine entry point, a single that seems to encapsulate in four minutes everything that makes its parent album special. It’s intimate, yet spacious of arrangement; everything has room to breathe, and it feels as relevant to pop today as it did in the late-‘80s.

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‘My Name Is Prince’ (1992)

Come the ‘90s and Prince is recording with The New Power Generation. This song, from his album with the funny squiggle that he soon adopted as his stage name (commonly known as the ‘Love Symbol Album’), tapped into the blossoming rap scene with a guest vocal from NPG member Tony M, and turns up the smut from Prince’s earlier expressions of love. It’s a hugely confident, stomping romp of a cut, a middle-finger-up to any doubters – and, most impressively, a self-celebrating effort that doesn’t make you instantly hate the artist in question. Because it’s just that good.

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Prince is probably writing an amazing song right this very minute.

What? No ‘Raspberry Beret’? Tweet us your own favourite Prince tracks. If you like.

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