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5 Prince Songs for the Uninitiated

5 Prince Songs for the Uninitiated

There will never be another artist quite like Prince. He was one of those rare individuals other famous musicians held in awe; he was in that elite "upper echelon" one step above the top tier. Next to Miles Davis, he was probably the musician most synonymous with the word "cool." Hell, he even had his own color. He was a legendary performer and one of the greatest guitar players of his time, blending disparate genres across dozens of albums and heaps of hit songs. The size of his catalogue can be a bit daunting for those discovering his music for the first time. If you're curious to see what made Prince so special but don't know where to begin, start with these five songs.

5. Let's Go Crazy

  • Peak Chart Position: 1
  • Released: July 18, 1984
  • Album: Purple Rain
  • Why It's Special: From the opening address of "Dearly beloved..." to the shredding guitar cadenza and closing scream, the first song from Prince's most iconic album became not only a smash hit, but also one of his signature songs.

4. Little Red Corvette

  • Peak Chart Position: 6
  • Released: February 9, 1983
  • Album: 1999
  • Why It's Special: 1999 skyrocketed Prince to new levels of success early in his career with dance jams like "1999" and "Delirious;" it was the slower "Little Red Corvette," however, that became his first U.S. top 10 single, and his biggest hit yet.

3. Raspberry Beret

  • Peak Chart Position: 2
  • Released: May 15, 1985
  • Album: Around the World in a Day
  • Why It's Special: One of Prince's most colorful songs, "Raspberry Beret" leans more towards the upbeat pop end of his spectrum and showcases some of his lushest instrumentation, complete with a full string section. It also features some of the most compelling lyrics he's written.

2. Kiss

  • Peak Chart Position: 1
  • Released: February 5, 1986
  • Album: Parade
  • Why It's Special: Prince originally wrote "Kiss" as an acoustic blues song for the funk band Mazarati, but when he heard their bare, minimalist reinterpretation he was so impressed that he took the song back and refined the new version for his own album. "Kiss" ended up becoming one of the most popular songs at his shows, and was often the highlight of his live sets. 

1. When Doves Cry

  • Peak Chart Position: 1
  • Released: May 16, 1984
  • Album: Purple Rain
  • Why It's Special: Why isn't it special? "When Doves Cry" is the biggest hit on an album packed with some of Prince's biggest hits. He played all of the instruments on the recording. Compositionally it's bizarre and unorthodoxit has no bassline, features synthesizer lines inspired by classical music, and the entire first half of the recording doesn't even have any chords backing up his vocal harmoniesand yet somehow it became one of the most iconic songs of the 1980s. "When Doves Cry" ruled radio waves from the top of the charts for five weeks, becoming the longest number 1 single of Prince's career.
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