Friday, April 10, 2020

"This is a Groove" - Favorite Prince Songs (Part 3)

This is the conclusion of a three-part series. Previously, I listed my favorite song from each of Prince's studio albums during the 1980s and the 1990s. This was the hardest yet because I have extremely personal memories tied to his music during the 2000s. I finally understand why fans hate doing these lists!

1. The Rainbow Children (2001): "She Loves Me 4 Me." This entire album is extraordinary given the level of musicianship alone. There are more advanced tracks than "She Loves Me 4 Me," but I can't think of a lovelier song in his discography. The sweet lyrics and gorgeous guitar licks get me every time. Read more about my relationship with the song here.

2. One Nite Alone (2002): "Avalanche." It's always interesting when Prince decides to get very specific with his subject matter. And it's important to listen to songs like this to gain a better understanding of his perspective on race relations.

3. Xpectation (2003): "Xosphere." I need to spend more time with this album, but I think I enjoy this melody the most right now.

4. N.E.W.S. (2003): "North." This is the only Prince album I can listen to as background music while writing. There's great guitar work in here, but it's part of the piano solo (10:10) that always gets to me.

5. Musicology (2004): "If Eye Was the Man in Ur Life." I almost chose "Call My Name," one of his best ballads, but I had to go with the song that I immediately hit rewind on when I played the album for the first time. The music is extremely funky and I actually like his pick-up lines--which is not often the case.

6. The Chocolate Invasion (2004): "When Eye Lay My Hands on U." Great melody, amazing guitar solo.

7. The Slaughterhouse (2004): "Y Should Eye Do That When Eye Can Do This?" One of his most compelling raps.

8. 3121 (2006): "3121." This is my favorite album of the decade, so I almost cried picking just one track. I love the nasty groove, scene-setting and guitar solo.

9. Planet Earth (2007): "Future Baby Mama." I don't care what anyone thinks. You have to be in the mood to listen to most of this album, especially the title track, which is another one of my other favorites. But "Future Baby Mama" is easy listening and I like the vocal decisions he makes.

10. Lotusflow3r (2009): "Wall of Berlin." Prince, Sonny T. and Michael Bland create magic whenever they get in the studio. I love how they switch up the rhythm. Also, Prince's guitar is on fire.

11. MPLSound (2009): "Valentina." Surprisingly, I adore three songs on this otherwise lackluster album and had trouble selecting one. "Valentina" has a nice beat, decent rapping, an infectious chant ("Hey, Valentina!") and a fun backstory.

12. Elixir (2009): "Home." This is technically Bria Valente's album, but Prince wrote everything and bundled it with his other projects. It's an underrated album and Bria's voice works well. His vocal production for her on this song is stellar. The guitar is subtle but dope (listen closely to the the second verse).

13. 20Ten (2010): "Sticky Like Glue." This is the song to play for fans who don't enjoy his work during this period. He was a master of funk-pop until the very end.

14. Plectrumelectrum (2014): "Plectrumelectrum." This is ... not my favorite album. I think a project full of instrumentals like this would bump it up higher on my list even though this is a bit paint-by-numbers rock for me.

15. Art Official Age (2014): "Way Back Home." This might change because I need to spend more time with this album. This song feels very personal--but that can be said of the entire project.

16. HitnRun Phase One (2015): "1000 X's and O's." Though this was originally written in the '90s, he did a fantastic job with the updates. I was in Atlanta recently and they were playing it on the R&B station. It fit right in!

17. HitnRun Phase Two (2015): "Look at Me, Look at U." He went out on a high note with this entire album. "Black Muse" and "When She Comes" are gems, of course. But I have an emotional connection to this one. It took me a while--today, actually--to be able to play it without getting upset.

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