Top 10 Prince Songs – Ranked
‘You think I’m crazy; you’re probably right…’ So goes the line in, Let’s Go Crazy, the opening track of Prince’s seminal album, Purple Rain. And the line certainly fits anyone attempting to write an article entitled “Top 10 Prince Songs Ranked”.
Articles such as this, where one person ranks “the best songs” by an artist or band, are often, and rightly, shot down, trampled on, spat at and burned in a corner by people that would say that the song you placed at number 4 in your top 10 shouldn’t even be in the top 20!
Some ‘top 10’ or ‘ranked’ articles can be relatively straightforward, and while some of the placings can be up for debate, the top 10 can generally be agreed upon. But with certain artists, it’s impossible. One such artist is Prince.
With over 97 singles and 39 studio albums, picking ten is tricky and downright daft! But this is AlwaysMusic, and if nothing else, we love a dollop of daftness most days, and with you being here with us, we’re pretty sure you do too.
So with that in mind, here’s a ludicrous attempt at the top 10 Prince tracks ranked.
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (1987)
The fourth single released from Sign ‘O The Times started life in 1979 while the purple nugget was recording his second album, which was imaginatively called “Prince”. The track reached number 10 on the US Billboard Charts and reached other potions in other countries (in-depth research has been undertaken for this).
The song, about turning down a one-night stand because the girl in question would want to take things further, includes one of his stand-out guitar solos, which twists and turns from blistering to bluesy.
1999 is the first single released from the album of the same name and the track that blew the doors wide open to international stardom for the pocket-sized purple one. Since 1999’s first release in 1982, the track has charted in the US Billboard charts on four separate occasions and sold almost 1 million copies in the US alone.
With synth riffs, a funky baseline, and a chorus that everyone knows, it’s one of Prince’s signature songs. Never has a song about the end of the world been so joyful or made you want to dance so much. It is also the first inking that Prince may be quite fond of the colour purple.
Gett Off (1991)
If you have listened to even a tiny amount of Prince, you may have noticed that he likes to sing about sex… A lot. And when Prince gets sexy, he tends to be pretty straightforward about it. This is pretty much the case with Gett Off, the first single from his Diamonds And Pearls album in 1991.
Although the song has shades of James Brown, it’s a track that is undeniably Prince. You can sometimes tell which artist you’re listening to just by hearing a song – Gett Off literally screams Prince. It’s a song about sex, “23 positions in a one-night stand”, that’s funkier than a base guitar wearing shades but also full of humour and playfulness that lit up so many of Prince’s tracks.
Alphabet St (1988)
While the critical response to 1988s Lovesexy was met coolly, the album’s lead single, Alphabet St, is an instant classic of Prince’s back catalogue (despite the rather uninspiring cover). Full of many of the hallmarks of Prince’s great songs – popping baseline, a funky guitar riff and (yet again) not-so-subtle lyrics about oral sex (I get the feeling he had a lot of sex or at least thought about it a little bit. What a cad!). The single reached the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic.
Upon hearing Kiss for the first time, the big wigs at Warner Bros., Prince’s then-record label, stressed their disapproval of releasing Kiss as a single. So against the track were the record executives at Warner Bros. that they also tried to have it removed from the album, Parade completely.
Of course, it became Prince’s third number-one single on the US Billboard Charts and a huge international hit. It says much about Prince’s inner funk and song production abilities to make a track with no baseline sound so funky! It also led to middle-aged men saying, ‘I think I’d better dance now,’ usually before undertaking what can only be described as witnessing a drunk donkey try to cross an ice rink while wearing high-heel shoes.
Let’s Go Crazy (1984)
Let’s Go Crazy, the opening track to Purple Rain, contains one of the most often quoted openings to any song from any era. It’s a mark of Prince’s genius that he could make a song about his belief in God and ‘the afterlife’ sound like the Devil wrote it.
A song that makes it sound like a huge party is happening in heaven, with screeching guitar solos and quotes about a purple banana (is that a euphemism? It has to be, right? This is Prince we’re talking about). It was the pocket-sized purple sex rocket’s second US number-one single and a staple track for his electrifying live shows.
Purple Rain (1984)
Purple Rain was initially written as a country song and intended to be a collaboration with Stevie Nicks. History could have been very different, but Nicks turned the track down, saying the track was too good and “too much for me”. Many tracks show Prince’s incredible guitar playing, but none more so than this one. From the lone guitar at the beginning to the soaring guitar solo that seems to last for half of the track, the guitar becomes Prince’s emotion.
Recorded on stage at Minneapolis’ First Avenue club, you can almost hear the audiences stunned silence as they must have realised they were witnessing something special. It’s the song that most people think of when thinking of the great man, and was fitting that it was the last song he ever played live one week before his death.
When Doves Cry (1984)
When Doves Cry is another single from Purple Rain and is Prince’s first US number-one single. The track also manages to achieve something only the greats can attain – an experimental song that’s also a commercial monster. Experimental, avant-garde, and soulful, it is one of Prince’s signature tunes.
The song reached number one worldwide, spent five weeks at number one in the US, was classified as the best-selling single of 1984, and is the 123rd highest-selling single of all time. What is more impressive is that the song wasn’t even due to be on the Purple Rain album. The song only came into being when the director of the Purple Rain film asked if Prince could write a song to match a particular section of the almost completed picture. That same night, “When Doves Cry” was written and recorded with Prince playing all the instruments (bloody show off).
Raspberry Beret (1985)
Raspberry Beret is a seemingly simple song and yet in another league to everything else released in 1985. The original recording was laid in early 1982 but cast aside until recording for Prince’s 1985 album “Around The World In A Day” began.
Arguably the most ‘pop’ track on this list, Raspberry Beret, is about working a dead-end job and having sex with a girl in a barn (we’ve all been there… well, the bit about the dead-end job anyway). It’s a song so simple and catchy that it feels from an earlier age as if you’ve known it for years. It must surely also be the biggest-selling single involving finger cymbals!?
Sign ‘O The Times (1987)
Sign ‘O The Times is the opening track and lead single of what many consider Prince’s finest album. The track is a stark social comment on mid-80s America with subjects such as Aids and drug addiction, just two of the topics covered in the song. It’s Prince’s “What’s Goin’ On?” or “For What It’s Worth”.
Stripped down and with lyrics that are almost spoken, this is part of Prince’s genius and something we can see in this list of 10 songs alone. Sparse instrumentation and yet sounds as funky as hell. Not only does the music sound sparse, but it also consists of a one-word chorus – “Times”. It was the first song written after Prince had fired his backing band, The Revolution. While many have argued that firing his band was ultimately the wrong decision, his finest song would have been much different, the lyrics less effective if it were not for the sparsity.
So, what do YOU think of our top 10 Prince songs ranked? What have I missed, or is this order so wrong you want to throw soup at the screen? Don’t throw anything at your screen, it won’t change anything.
If your favourite Prince track wasn’t ranked in this top 10, maybe it made the top 20 cut which you can listen to below. Orr check out more music blogs.