1) Raspberry Beret
Brilliant psychadelic pop track from Prince’s 1985 ‘Around The World in a Day’ album. Live instruments such as sweeping strings, acoustic guitar strums and Middle Eastern Cymbals form the backdrop whilst Prince’s almost-spoken vocals perform the narrative. Beck’s live cover is included below due to Prince’s copyright associates re-emerging to make his music impossible to find online once again.
2) Pop Life
Psychaedlic, funky pop track, also from 1985’s ‘Around The World in a Day’. Eeerie, detuned synthesisers howl over a tinny piano sound, fierce percussion and a tight bass line.
3) The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
Schmalzty, soulful and superb; Prince at his best. Written for then girlfriend (and future wife) Mayte Garcia, this was to amazingly be his only UK Number One single. His vocals are flawless throughout, mainly performed in a stable falsetto but occasionally drifting into a rich baritone.
4) Somewhere Here on Earth
Prince’s impeccable falsetto vocals drift over futuristic synthesisers, a saxophone and twinkling pianos on this gorgeous slow-jam-influenced jazz ballad. Prince always possessed the ability to straddle various genres of music and this is a reminder of his impeccable ability to do so successfully.
5) Sometimes it Snows in April
Absolutely stunning ballad which closes his 1986 ‘Parade’ album perfectly. Performed in just one take, it’s beautifully raw – you can hear the squeak of the piano stool, the odd vocal imperfection and the organic sound of a live acoustic guitar and piano. The song has become all the more poignant since his death and is now largely considered by many fans as a eulogy written by the man himself thirty years too early. Lyrically, it covers the death of Christopher Tracey, the main character from Prince’s film ‘Under the Cherry Moon’ and with lyrics such as ‘I used to cry for Tracey cos he was my only friend, those kinda cars don’t pass you everyday’, it truly is beautiful.
6) Let’s Go Crazy
One of Prince’s signature tracks, the fantastically rousing ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ is the opening track to Prince’s 1984 album and film of the same name ‘Purple Rain’. Growling guitars and signature 80’s synthesiser shimmers drive this piece of pop heaven.
Seemingly an attempt to mirror the success of earlier guitar-heavy tracks such as ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, ‘Guitar’ is one of Prince’s more underrated album tracks. Taken from 2007’s ‘Planet Earth’, it features an incredible guitar riff which is prominent most of the way through the track.
8) My Computer
Widely criticised by many fans and critics alike, many overlook how clever and ahead of its time this song was. Lyrically documenting a loner browsing online for company, it’s somewhat sad yet its funky R&B track and glitchy computer sounds lifts its spirits. Also features the incredible Kate Bush on backing vocals.
9) Somebody’s Somebody
Prince always had the ability to make the best slow jams. This is one of his most underrated from 1995’s ‘Emancipation’. Released in the midst of great media interest relating to his battle with his record label, his name change and relationship with Mayte, ‘Somebody’s Somebody’ got somewhat lost as a track in Prince’s discography. Despite this, it’s one of his best; a moody R&B ballad which encapsulates the loneliness of 2am perfectly.
10) When We’re Dancing Close and Slow
Sometimes there is no need for polished production, excessive instruments, multiple chord changes or multi-layered vocals and this track emphasises this. An absolutely stunning ballad from Prince’s self-titled second album, this track utilises only two chords, created by gentle acoustic guitar strums and twinkling pianos. By its finale, eerie synthesiser sounds creep in to make it way ahead of its time, something else Prince always managed to do in his career.
11) Starfish and Coffee
Not to be taken too seriously, this quirky but brilliantly catchy piano pop track was featured on critically acclaimed “Sign O’ The Times” before being featured in an episode of The Muppets. Simple, sweet and happy.
Clearly proud of this song upon its release, Prince hailed it as the next ‘Purple Rain’. It did not achieve status as one of Prince’s best known but fared relatively well on the charts. It’s a great Pop track with meaningful lyrics and a catchy refrain.
13) She’s Always in My Hair
Whilst never appearing on a Prince album (except for a Greatest Hits compilation), ‘She’s Always in My Hair’ became one of Prince’s best-loved songs. A fierce rock and roll track complete with guitars, staccato organs and a great beat.
14) I Would Die 4 U
Another track from both the film and accompanying soundtrack ‘Purple Rain’, this is Prince at his best. Unsettled percussion and multi-layered synthesisers perform its backing track whilst Prince delivers an energetic vocal delivery.
15) I Wanna Be Your Lover
Infectiously catchy disco-stomper; the epitome of 70’s disco music. Taken from second album ‘For You’, it is one of the first Prince tracks to showcase his brilliant falsetto vocals, a trait which would be featured in many of his latest works.
16) Dinner with Delores
Perhaps Prince’s most underrated song, this gentle pop-rock/country-influenced track was the only single from 1996’s ‘Chaos and Disorder’. The album was released simply to fulfil Prince’s contractual obligations with Warner Brothers in the midst of their infamous feud, yet it contains a strong collection of Prince tracks. The track’s instrumentation is gentle and sweet yet upon closer inspection, the lyrics have a darker and more sexualised tone.
Another brilliant track from the ‘Parade’ album. An introduction of wailing guitars and impatient percussion evolve into a catchy funk-rock track which is based around a piano chord sequence.
18) I Wish U Heaven
A joyful and spiritual single from ‘Lovesexy’. In-keeping with the album’s uplifting, religious tones, ‘I Wish U Heaven’ features elements of rock, pop, dance and gospel. Quirky production elements and Prince’s gorgeous falsetto vocals make this one of his best, yet most underrated works.
19) Diamonds & Pearls
Uplifting rock ballad which features New Power Generation member Rosie Gaines sharing vocals with Prince. Unlike a lot of Prince’s work which focussed on lust and sex, this ballad instead refreshingly explores love itself.
20) Purple Rain
Of course, this playlist would not be complete without Prince’s signature track. And what a song this is. It’s easy to classify songs as huge as this as ‘overrated’ but this gorgeous Rock ballad lives up to its reputation as one of the best ballads of all time. Recorded live at a benefit concert, it was later added to in the studio and became the track loved by all today. It was to become a staple of Prince’s live shows, perhaps its most notable moment was at the Super Bowl XLI’s half time show when it was performed during a downpour.
Prince once explained the meaning of “Purple Rain” is as follows: “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue= purple… purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.”