DAR Music: The 10 Best Prince Albums

By @TrueGodImmortal 

It's been a year since the untimely passing of Prince. This unfortunate event sent shock waves through the world and things haven't been quite the same since we lost one of the greatest music legends ever. As the one year anniversary of his death just passed, we wanted to take some time and look at his catalog (almost 40 albums) and narrow it down to his 10 best albums. It'll be a tough task, and some of the choices may even surprise you, but these are the absolute 10 best Prince albums, in this writer's humble (or not so humble) opinion.

10. Art Official Age (2014)

-You might be surprised to see this here over albums like Come, For You, Dirty Mind and others, but this album is the best of his 2000s releases honestly (minus Musicology) and the sound here ranges from pure funk to soul to electric R&B. He works with one of my current favorite artists, Lianne La Havas on this album, which results in my favorite song on this project "Clouds". Other tracks that help complete this album are "U Know", "Breakfast Can Wait", and
"Way Back Home". Overall, this is one of the more smooth and cohesive albums in Prince's career and to do it almost 40 years after your arrival in music is of the most amazing feats ever by a legend.

9. Around The World In A Day (1985)

-The post Purple Rain album. A lot of times, superstars make albums that get lost in the way of their success. With Purple Rain still taking off and experiencing a huge boost in sales from the consistent singles, many slept on Around The World In A Day. Some thought it didn't possess the infectious nature of Purple Rain and that's correct. It does not possess the mega hits so to speak, but it does possess hits and classics in its own right. This album was much more experimental than the commercial sound of Purple Rain, and the singles showed that. With tracks like the funky "Pop Life", the electric "Raspberry Beret", "Condition of The Heart", and "Paisley Park", Prince crafted one of his most engaging albums and one of the most slept on projects in his catalog.

8. Musicology (2004)

-A truly underrated gem in his catalog, Musicology is like the rebirth of Prince in the mainstream. After a period where his music was still viable, but not all over the place like it once was, Musicology revitalized him in a way that lasted until his untimely passing. This album features the social commentary, knowledge, and smooth sounds we came to love Prince for, and this time around, he came to teach. He wanted to provide musical education with this album and he would end up doing just that. This album features the funky title track, "Cinnamon Girl", and my personal favorite track "Call My Name". Overall, Musicology was his most successful since 1991 and I'd dare say his best since 1995, which meant one thing: Prince was "back" and better than ever.

7. The Gold Experience (1995)

-It's interesting to me that this album doesn't get mentioned as much as it should. I think that many believe Prince had his best years in the 80's (which is true) and they tend to overlook the best projects he released in the 90's and 2000s. Make no mistake about it, Prince was in rare form during the 80's, but I have always enjoyed his 90's albums, and this was one of my favorites. It was one of the very first Prince albums that I really listened to all the way through and it features some of my favorite songs from him, starting with the mega single "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World". Another favorite on this album is the original version of "Shhh", a song he wrote for Tevin Campbell prior. Other solid tracks on this album include "I Hate U", "319", and "Shy".

6. Prince (1979)

-An underrated gem, his second album showcases him at his best. It's a smooth listen, with a bit of experimentation in the music. It was more diverse than his debut, with Prince sounding much more comfortable in his music than on his first project. Songs such as "Sexy Dancer", "Bambi", and "With You" showed Prince's diverse musical styling, while the more R&B centered songs like "I Feel For You" and the all time classic "I Wanna Be Your Lover" showed that he could create the hits. This was a very well rounded album and deserves to be high up on any Prince list.

5. Controversy (1981)

-One of the more underrated albums in his catalog, this project saw Prince be daring and showcase why he's one of the greatest to ever do it (much like most of his albums). He wanted the world to know he wasn't just sexually driven, but at his core, an artist. The political side of Prince comes out more on this album, as well as his social commentary side, in addition to the love songs and a rare ballad (a sexually charged ballad, but a ballad nonetheless). I consider this to be the first real unapologetic album from Prince, and through 8 tracks, he addresses so much. He speaks to Ronald Reagan on "Ronnie, Talk To Russia", addresses race and sexuality (mostly his own) on the title track, and creates one of my all time favorite ballads, "Do Me Baby", a 7 plus minute odyssey that flows with super production. Some people prefer Dirty Mind over this album (I don't honestly see the big deal over that album), but Controversy is a great listen, and I'd dare to call it a classic.

4. Diamonds And Pearls (1991)

-I remember the first time I sat down and listened to this album in full as an adult, I was honestly pleasantly surprised. As a kid, I only knew the title track, and while that song is truly a classic and amazing, there's so much more to the album than that one song. Other tracks like "Cream", "Gett Off", "Push", "Insatiable", and the dope single "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" helped to round out this album and it's one of the most complete Prince albums ever, with literally no filler, a feat that Prince has only achieved a few times.

3. 1999 (1982)

-This album is the one that really broke him through the ceiling. It features a number of hits, and one of the best collection of songs to ever come from Prince. Split into four sides (the album version), 1999 features classics like the title track, which remains one of the most infamous Prince songs ever, as well as another one of his biggest hits "Little Red Corvette", but the greatness doesn't stop there. Tracks like "Let's Pretend We're Married", "International Lover", and "Automatic" all help complete the album that has a legitimate argument for being the best Prince album quality wise. You could pick any of the top 3 and you'd have a legitimate argument for it. That's how great 1999 is.

2. Purple Rain (1984)

-His most infamous album and one of the most popular albums ever earns a spot on any top album list, so you knew it would be here. However, the reason it is no. 1 has little to do with flaws in the album, but more to do with the untouchable sound of the album that makes no. 1 on my list. This is his most popular release ever and there's literally nothing wrong or any filler here on this album. Truthfully, it's as safe of an album as Prince could have made and that's not a bad thing honestly. He created hits and iconic music to go along with his film of the same name, and each song is a masterpiece in its own right commercially. From the iconic title track to "When Doves Cry" to "Darling Nikki" all the way to my two favorites on the album "The Beautiful Ones" and "I Would Die 4 U", there's no need for Prince to take risks or be extremely diverse in sound, because it works. Much like Thriller, Purple Rain is one of the biggest albums ever because it executed what was necessary to win, to perfection.

1. Sign O' The Times (1987)

-Contrary to popular belief, the BEST album from Prince is NOT Purple Rain. Often times we get sales confused with the quality and while I fully believe that Purple Rain is a classic and one of the most important albums ever in music history, I don't think there's any other Prince album that rivals this one in quality. It's virtually impossible IMO. Originally set to be an epic triple album, Prince shortened this release to a double album and the result was a flawless piece of art. Every song here has its own meaning, his own place, and much like Purple Rain, every song could have been a hit. It showcases a diverse sound, the various elements that make Prince one of the greatest, and it's surprisingly cohesive. It's my pick for the greatest double album ever, and with songs like "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker", "If I Was Your Girlfriend", "U Got The Look", "Strange Relationship", "It", "Slow Love", "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night", and my absolute favorite Prince track "Adore", there is no album in the Prince discography that created so many diverse classics quite like this. Purple Rain is the biggest Prince album. Sign O' The Times is the best. Simply put.



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