These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Anvilicious: Prince started off with Dirty Mind and just grew less and less subtle from there, to the point that he actually went into Author Tract territory by his late career (hi, Rainbow Children).
Archive Panic: Just look at all of the albums Prince released! Not to mention that some are double and triple albums! That's not even counting all of the B-sides Prince released, or the music made by his proteges or people otherwise associated with him. Or the stuff he put out on the web. Or the stuff he never released but got bootlegged.
Bizarro Episode: The Black Album. Horrific atonal sounds; an entire verse in a rap song dedicated to licking knees ("What does that have to do with the funk? / Nothing / But who's paying the bills?"); an entire song dedicated to a man who, in a growling monologue, kills a woman and police in cold blood; and references to bondage, stalking, drugs and squirrel meat. Then there's the entirely sane and tender love ballad, "When 2 R in Love", dropped right in the center of it. To this day, nothing else in his catalogue (including bootlegged material from the vault) comes close to the level of insanity on this album.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Here's a fun activity for all. Go on the Internet and read as much as you can about how The Revolution broke up - pay attention to the role Wendy & Lisa played in it. Then go watch Purple Rain, and pay particular attention to what Wendy & Lisa do in the movie.
Prince signing with Warner Bros. Records because they offered him the most creative freedom. They throttled the speed and creativity of his career from the third album in 1980 and never let go until his contract with them broke. Prince famously changed his name to a symbol in his last few years with them, believing his birth name had been sullied and demoted to product status by the label.
Also "1999," since the fears about the Millennium Bug turned out to be a lot of hype over nothing.
Hype Backlash: The mismanagement of the Crystal Ball box set is legendary. Prince originally announced that the career-spanning collection of unreleased or bootlegged songs would come out in 1997, in a case shaped like a crystal ball. He later said it wouldn't be released until 50,000 pre-orders were obtained. It would finally be released in 1998 and fans who had pre-ordered got their copies up to a year later than that, if at all. The case ended up being cylindrical instead of spherical (getting dubbed "the Crystal Petri Dish") and came with a website link to print out the liner notes instead of an actual booklet. On top of this, the album got released in stores (something fans were told wasn't going to happen) and that version actually came with a booklet. Then came the music itself, which was taken mainly from his 90s phase. All older songs were edited, remixed or re-recorded in his 90s style, which negated the entire purpose of Crystal Ball quashing bootlegs, since fans still needed them to hear unedited versions of songs. The length (45 minutes per CD) was also criticized. In an attempt to calm his pre-ordering fans, he shipped them his orchestral wedding soundtrack, Kamasutra, as well as a T-shirt and/or a cassette of the 25 minute jam "The War". The additional music got shat on by fans as well, and some fans who hadn't even pre-ordered Crystal Ball in the first place acquired some of the bonus material in their mail. At this point, fans know that if Prince hypes something up, it's either going to be total shit or will never get released at all.
The opening dialogue to "Computer Blue" – as well as many lines from Purple Rain – are prized by Prince fans.
Narm: The dialogue between Prince and God in "Temptation", but there's more than just that. Like that time he compares love to surgery in "I Love You in Me", the entirety of "Scarlet Pussy", or the amount of times he crosses from Intercourse with You territory to ball-kneeing idiocy.
Or to double the fun, for The Rainbow Children Prince re-uses the slowed-down, slurred monologue voice from "Bob George", the one previously responsible for gems of wisdom like "I'll slap yo ass to the middle of next week" and "Bob, ain't that a bitch?", and most definitely not meant to be taken seriously, to deliver long rambling incoherent quasi-religious monologues.
To critics, and even many fans, his flirtations with rap fall here. Not to say that the other people he hired to do it can't Narm it up as well, as proved by Tony M., Robin Power and Cat Glover. (Amusingly, "Alphabet St." seems to accidentally lampshade this: Prince chants "Cat, we need you to rap!" twice before her rap breakdown begins, and in between them the high-pitched "NO!" squeal from the beginning of the song is played again; it seems as if even the song itself is terrified at the Narm that will ensue.)
His wedding soundtrack, Kamasutra.
In the song "The Future" he sings "Yellow smiley offers me some x/like he's drinking 7 up/I would rather drink six razor blades/razor blades from a paper cup".
Never Live It Down: Changing his name to a symbol and the phallic guitar are all he's known for now.
Older Than They Think: A good chunk of Prince's official discography was written and recorded well before it actually got released. Three notable examples are "Tick, Tick, Bang", a synth-punk song from 1980 that got transformed into a new jack swing-style song for 1991's Graffiti Bridge; "Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic", a song from 1988 that was released in 1999 with absolutely no changes made to it; and "Extraloveable", a funk jam from 1982 that was re-recorded at a slower tempo (and without the references to rape) for a 2011 single release.
Graffiti Bridge itself is made up almost entirely of songs that had been written long beforehand:
"We Can Funk" had been started in 1983 as "We Can Fuck", for instance, and it took three years for it to be revisited to feature George Clinton for the first time.
"Can't Stop This Feeling I Got" had been demoed in 1982 and re-recorded in 1986 for a proposed musical. The Bridge version itself was another re-recording from 1989.
"Joy in Repetition" was recorded first in 1986 slated for the Crystal Ball project (not to be confused with the 1998 compilation). When put on Graffiti Bridge Prince didn't bother to remove its introductory segue (which happened to mention another outtake, "Soul Psychodelicide").
Signature Songs: "1999", "Little Red Corvette", "When Doves Cry", and "Purple Rain". Although "1999" is more fondly remembered now, "Little Red Corvette" is pointed to as the moment when Prince became well-known in the mainstreamnote It was his first US top 10 hit and an inspiration to both Phil Collins and Stevie Nicks, directly causing "1999" to climb back up the charts; originally not breaking the top 40 in the US, "1999" peaked at #12 on its second try. ; "When Doves Cry" is arguably Prince's highest-praised song and was the best-selling single of 1984 according to Billboard, and "Purple Rain", being the Title Track to his best-known film and its soundtrack album, was not only a very successful and acclaimed single as well but also contains a good deal of Epic Rocking and was the closing song to Prince's Super Bowl halftime show. (During that performance, it was fittingly played in the rain, lit up with purple lights.)
Tastes Like Diabetes: The second disc of Emancipation was filled with ballads and jams dedicated to then-wife Mayte Garcia and as such, is capable of rotting your full skull out of your head. The nadir of this is the disc closer, "Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife". And yes, that title is the first line of the chorus.