DAR Retro: The 8 Greatest Prince Singles

By @TrueGodImmortal

Prince is one of the greatest artists we've ever seen in music. His ability to play multiple instruments, write his own songs, and craft his many albums made him a rarity in music at the time and for me, I've always found Prince to be an enigma in his own right. While his knack for making underrated and slept on gems is not lost on me, Prince did have a ton of success with his actual singles released to the public. It's hard to narrow down the greatest list of anything for someone who has over 35 albums and over 100 singles, but that's all a part of the challenge here today. I wanted to look back at the single discography of Prince and rank the 8 greatest singles in his career. Which singles make the list and which singles miss it? Let's take a look.

8. Kiss (1986)

-I'm not the biggest fan of this song personally, but it's one of his most infamous and commercially successful songs, so it was either between this track and "Do Me, Baby". While "Kiss" is a bit more commercial to me, I can't deny the importance and the impact of the song, which would become a huge smash hit everywhere in the world. If you've ever been to an older club or a function that plays any older music, when this song comes on, most people instantly know it and sing along. What surprises me about this song is how well it did not only on the charts here, but everywhere else as well. Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, and many other countries were in love with the first single from the often underrated Parade album. The song is a blend of upbeat funk and disco music with the slightly muted vocals from Prince on the verses carrying the listener to the resounding yet slightly subtle hook. While this isn't my favorite as I mentioned, "Kiss" is still a Prince classic.

7. Diamonds And Pearls (1991)

-While I love some of the other later singles from Prince, there is no bigger song in the 90's and 2000s than this one for Prince. He would strike gold with this upbeat ballad, which bristles with smooth vocals, lush keys, and of course Prince's guitar over perfect drums. Alongside the well placed vocals of New Power Generation member Rosie Gaines (she takes the song up a notch herself), this track would become another huge hit, earning a spot in his catalog as one of his biggest singles. This track has a bit more of the traditional R&B vibe to it than previous songs from Prince, which makes it no shock that it hit no. 1 on the R&B charts and was all over urban radio, while still being top 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Simply put, "Diamonds And Pearls" is a classic.

6. Let's Go Crazy (1984)

-When you think of a song that can get a crowd in a frenzy, this is one of them. It has a frantic pace and a great melody that blitzes through the speaker, as Prince coasts on the song with ease. If you think back to the 80's, with their style of dancing and how they partied, it should come as no surprise that this single was an instant smash. It would reach no. 1 on the charts, which made it the second single from Prince to hit that spot on the chart. "Let's Go Crazy" was a success not only in the United States, but over in the UK as well, continuing the evolution of Prince as an international star and legend.

5. Little Red Corvette (1982)

-Of course, this song has to be discussed. While many people took this song and used it as motivation for their car dreams, but as we know, this song is about everything except an actual car. While that part is obvious, in terms of production, this is a very minimal track, with a simple guitar riff accompanied by heavy electronic drums and resounding synths that give it a perfect melody. Based on an encounter that Prince has with a beautiful but promiscuous woman, this song works in many ways, as it serves as a bit of a warning against consistent casual sex in a way, which was a bit shocking considering some of the previous content in Prince's music. There are some hilarious moments on the album version of this song ("you've got an ass like I never seen" is a classic line), but for the most part, this is just one extremely catchy and infectious single that is still universally loved some 35 years later. This song would experience a lot of success on the charts, cracking the pop, rock, and R&B charts simultaneously, as well as charting highly in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. All in all, "Little Red Corvette" takes its rightful place in the Prince catalog as a top 5 single.

4. I Wanna Be Your Lover (1979)

-I love this song and honestly, I think it might be his most catchy song of all time. It's smooth, infectious, yet still upbeat and a song for parties. Recorded after the commercial failure of his debut album (his label was disappointed at his songs failing to chart high), Prince came back with a gem that exceeded expectations. The song is a beautiful blend of funk and soul, as the low falsetto vocal that Prince employs throughout catches your ear and on the album version of the song, the jam session of synths and keyboards are too perfect to ignore. This song was said to have been written about Patrice Rushen, a legend in her own right, which gives it a slightly hilarious backstory if true. The song would become an instant hit for Prince, chatting at no. 1 on the R&B charts, no. 2 on the dance charts, and right near the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, shutting up his label and any critic. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" is a gem that should still be celebrated almost 40 years later.

3. 1999 (1982)

-It is amazing. When I was younger, I used to hear peoole say that they wanted to party like it was 1999, but I never understood what it really meant. Now, I know. Well, I knew then, but as a kid, 1999 wasn't here just yet, and well.... I was a kid. Still, the first time I heard this song, it caught my ear, even as a young True. The production was infectious, and it was honestly the signature Prince sound with resounding melodies atop those electronic drums. The keyboards and guitars combined for a perfect mixture, but what takes the song over the top is the differing vocals from Prince and the members of The Revolution. It felt like a true group song, and for some reason, that really gave it even more flash and style. The hook is of course the main thing that draws you in, and it's so well executed that it is no surprise that this song hit no. 1 on the dance club charts and top 5 on the R&B charts. There are many songs that make you think of Prince and his legend, and "1999" is at the very top of that list without question.

2. When Doves Cry (1984)

-While many people remember the Purple Rain album fondly in general, to many, this single is the best of the best from that album in a way. Sure, it doesn't have the impact that the title track had on pop culture, but it's a close second. A very close second. From the opening of the track, as the guitar riff welcomes you before the drums and the synths kick in, "When Doves Cry" instantly captures the listener, and once Prince kicks off the song with "dig if you will, the picture...", it's pretty much a wrap. The way he handles his vocals, along with the way the song builds up to the bridge and hook is honestly perfect. The lyrics actually have a heavy tone to them, as it looks at a relationship that's going down the wrong road. As a single, this might be the most successful single of his career, as it charted no. 1 on all of the charts here in the U.S. and Canada while also charting pretty high on other charts all around the world. When you think of Prince, this song is one of the first that comes to mind, and honestly, if you had this as your no. 1, I wouldn't be mad at all. It's a classic and easily in the running for the greatest Prince song, let alone his greatest single.

1. Purple Rain (1984)

-Of course, this would have to be at the top of the list. There is no other song in the history of Prince's career more important than Purple Rain. The album itself is amazing in its own right, but the title track is something that everyone knows and by everyone, I mean the entire American public. There are some songs that grab your attention instantly and even without seeing this film, this track is one that will  entice the listener with the opening guitar riff. A mixture of rock and roll melancholy and straining soul, the slow paced song resembles a ballad as well as a passionate rock song. The breakdowns within the song and the vocals as it closes out are my favorite part, as Prince always sounds like he actually feels the music when he sings and the ending of this track is no better example of that. This is the greatest and most important single in the career of Prince and that's only up for debate against "When Doves Cry", which is honestly a more successful single here in the U.S., but "Purple Rain" had just a bit more success overseas, which is why I give it the top spot.



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