Debating Prince’s top 20 songs of the last 20 years

For once, I’m taking this blog back to its original purpose. 😛
Once upon a time, seven years ago, I was an avid newbie admirer of Prince’s and created this blog to review/discuss his albums.

The phenomenon I experienced in those days were, oddly enough, like what Prince experienced before his separation from his record label… he went through such a prolific writing period and was churning out albums too fast for the recording industry to keep up with.
Likewise, I had so much to write about Prince, was writing at least a blog entry a day, and on a blog, I had the freedom to go on for as long as I wanted to without worrying about backlash 😛 not to mention this was my personal space that I didn’t share with a lot of people to begin with.

Because of his faith to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Prince has a thing about not believing in holidays and birthdays. The way he put it was “I only had one birthday” and there was no need to throw attention to that year after year.
So I tweeted to him that I wish him happy 56 years Somewhere Here on Earth, paying homage to one of his songs.
…so far, no response, but c’mon, it’s Prince. I don’t expect instant gratification or any at all. Just being there to support him is enough.

Sadly, I must admit that’s not something I’d been doing lately. I have been a little upset with him over the fact he hadn’t released any new music in four years (not that it helps I only listened through his 20Ten album once or twice EVER).
That isn’t to say that the admiration of him as a person and artist has stopped. I just hadn’t been as supportive or as “positive” as I used to be with him.

Positivity’s the name of the game I play as an admirer of Prince and that has since gone on to describe my adoration of other figures that’ve come into my life.

…now onto the reason I BEGAN this entry in the first place and it has been a long time coming.

I cannot stress enough how much I love it when I find people writing about Prince who actually know what they’re talking about. They know more than the mainstream albums, the most successful singles and have a lot of good things to say and points to make.

I did agree with a lot of this list, but when it came to the top 5, I started to have my doubts.
!- agree
**- totally agree
~- so-so
?- don’t know it
– <- disagree

20. Space- Come!
19. The Sun, Moon and Stars- Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic!
18. Don't Play Me- The Truth**
17. The Daisy Chain- Slaughterhouse?
16. Chelsea Rogers- Planet Earth~
15. I like it there- Chaos & Disorder?
14. The Exodus has Begun- Exodus?
13. Shh- The Gold Experience**
12. The Holy River- Emancipation!
11. Beginning Endlessly- 20Ten?
10. Last Heart- Crystal Ball?
9. The Rainbow Children- TRC~
8. Dreamer- Lotusflow3r**
7. Lavaux- 20Ten?
6. The Love We Make- Emancipation?
5. $- Lotusflow3r!
4. Musicology- Musicology!
3. Pussy Control- The Gold Experience~
2. 3121- 3121~
1. Turn Me Loose-

For the most part, this is a very good list. I certainly appreciate the inclusion of tracks from Come and The Gold Experience, my favorite 90's albums from him.

The 20Ten tracks, I don't remember well enough to comment on.
I do own Emancipation, but I hadn't listened to the 3rd disc enough to know "The Love We Make" enough to comment on it.
I own Crystal Ball, but I don't think I've even gotten through the entire album yet.
I don't own Exodus (classified as an NPG album but Prince is present under the pseudonym Tora Tora), Slaughterhouse (an Internet only release) or Chaos & Disorder so I can't comment on the included tracks.

The one part of this list that really had me uneasy is putting "Turn Me Loose" at #1.
Firstly because I only heard it once. It was on the Tonight Show and it was only released amongst the fan community.
Secondly because the impression it left on me lasted only a couple of days.

I could add that the opinion about it throughout the fan community is mixed at best, but that can be said about a lot of his new music in general.

I'm a little taken aback that "Gold" wasn't mentioned at all.
That would have been my personal #1 Prince song for the past 20 years, my personal favorite all-time, but in an unbiased all-time list, I think I'd rank it in the top 5 with "Purple Rain" at #1.

Planet Earth is a tricky album because it was my first Prince album that I picked up when it was newly released. I was experiencing it for the first time at the same time everyone else was.
It boggles my mind that of all the tracks, Chelsea Rogers was the only one mentioned. Overall, it's my 2nd least favorite on album (the least favorite is the final track, "Resolution" because it's just too cheesy and clichéd to take seriously). Musically, it IS well put together and has a good message, but I'm just not a huge fan.

Certainly not as big a fan as I am of "Somewhere Here on Earth," another notable omission from this list.

I must applaud the inclusion of "Don't Play Me" in this list. "The Truth" is a very exclusive album most casual Prince fans wouldn't own. It's a great acoustic album overall, but it's a great minimalistic effort where you can hear every instrument that's played.

If anything from the defunct album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic was included here, "sun moon and stars" is a decent pick. It's lovely. It's romantic. It's got a little reggae in there. Off that album, I love "The Greatest Romance" and the Gwen Stefani duet "So Far, So Pleased."

Emancipation is such a loaded album so it's hard for me to pick any single track for a top 20 list. "The Holy River" is a really good, well-written track. If I was going by that alone, it would be high up on my list. But when I'm picking my favorite songs, I don't just go from the quality of songwriting, but from the emotion I take away from it.
I look at Disc I as a complete album because I enjoy every track except for "Mr. Happy."
Disc II, I have tons of favorites including tracks 4-6. "Joint 2 Joint" is a major stand-out as well.

I was uncertain on Musicology, The Rainbow Children and 3121 simply because they're good, but they're not the best songs off their designated albums.
With The Rainbow Children, I would have replaced the title track with "Digital Garden" or "Last December"
Musicology, the title track is strong, but the stand-outs for me are "A Million Days," "Call My Name" and "Cinnamon Girl"
3121, same thing, there are other tracks I'd pick as stronger tracks for a top 20 list. Particularly "The Word" and "The Dance"… even "Beautiful Loved and Blessed" I'd rank above 3121's title track because it has a lot more to offer than simply introducing us to the album.

As creative as this list was with the choices, I feel like picking title tracks of albums is a little lazy.
Or maybe it's just me.
I usually buy albums because I wanted the singles on the radio, but over the years, I started listening to whole albums and my favorite songs often never make it to radio. Either because I feel like they're stronger or I respond to them on a more emotional level.

That's just how I roll.

It's also nice to see that a couple Lotusflow3r tracks made this list. "Dreamer" made for a killer first impression (an 11 out of 10 opposed to "Turn me Loose" which was maybe 7 out of 10) on the Tonight Show and it was one of the stronger tracks on the album. "$" is fun, upbeat and features a sped-up vocal in the style of Prince's alter ego Camille.

Taking all this into account, my top 20 for the last 20 years would include (in no particular order because I don't have time to rank them)

1. Gold
2. Somewhere Here on Earth
3. Don't Play Me
4. Last December
5. Shh
6. Dreamer
7. The Word
8. The Dance
9. A Million Days
10. So Far, So Pleased
11. Space
12. Solo- Come
13. Eye Hate U- Gold Experience
14. Joint 2 Joint
15. Slave- Emancipation disc III
16. Digital Garden
17. Call My Name
18. Lovesign- Crystal Ball
19. Beautiful Loved and Blessed
20. Mr. Goodnight

…well, for the most part, it's in some order, but yeah, it was not easy picking 20. Especially without skewing this so there'd be a lot of tracks from The Gold Experience, Come and Emancipation.

I can't help but go with my favorites and they are that for different reasons.
Most of the time, I come from an emotional place with my favorite songs. Where they take my mind when I listen to that. Some are fun. Some are romantic and others… they're just strong, well-written songs.

Maybe it couldn't hurt to start listening to Prince again. Other than the Purple Rain tracks and the occasional spot on the radio, it's been a long time since I've listened to anything from him.

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