YMMV / Prince

If ever YMMV applied, it's Prince in 99.
  • 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).
    • Prince takes the time to stop his 1994 song about child abuse, "Papa," to say, "Don't abuse children. Or else they end up like me."
  • Archive Panic: The "Prince wrote more than one thousand songs" from the main article isn't lying. Prince ended up releasing 36 albums of original material during his lifetime, including his soundtracks, with several of these being double and triple albums, altogether netting a total of 448 songs released under his own name. Then add in his b-sides; side projects; songs he wrote for his protégés and other bands (like The Bangles' "Manic Monday"); additional web releases and exclusives, and the total jumps even higher. The man would also start band practices at 6:00am and record all day sessions with his musicians, and only some of that material has surfaced in bootlegged form over the decades: the most comprehensive bootleg of unreleased Prince material, Work It 2.0, contains 578 additional songs, tracks and sketches, sorted over 34 discs. And even that bootleg is sorely outdated. It's rumored that, at the time of his death, he had a huge enough back catalogue to be able to release one album every year for one hundred years!
  • 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 prostitute he attempts to solicit, as well as 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. Nothing else in his catalogue (including bootlegged material from the vault) comes close to the level of insanity on this album.
  • Covered Up: Prince's songs are often covered, and most of them stay Prince songs First and Foremost. There are a few exceptions:
    • "I Feel for You", a song from his 1979 self-titled album, became a top 5 hit for Chaka Khan in 1984.
    • "Nothing Compares 2 U", originally written by Prince for his side-project The Family in 1985, because a transatlantic #1 single for Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor in 1990.
    • A cover of "1999" b-side "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?" was a hit for Alicia Keys in 2002.
  • Crazy Awesome: "Batdance" from the 1989 Batman soundtrack. It's a insanely eclectic song, first going into Funky House-Rock, then switching full gear into a James Brown style pure funk groove, than switching back to the first phase of the song. Add a bunch of vocal samples from the movie and Prince's crystal clear voice and you've got something crazier than even George Clinton could produce.
    • Prince was never afraid to hide his wild personality, which was as eclectic as his rapidly changing musical styles.
  • Ear Worm: "Purple Rain". How catchy is it? He managed to get the Super Bowl audience to sing along to the famous closing howls of the Title Track.
    • "Partyman" from Batman being a great example.
  • Ending Fatigue: The full, extended version of "America" is 21 minutes. It was longer, but the recording tape ran out, so a quick fade out was inserted. Fun note: Prince had a chime set up in the studio to ring out at the twenty minute mark of a recording, and that made the final cut of the song.
    • This one time, Prince recorded a 30 minute version of "I Would Die 4 U." The same fade-out issue occurs here, but you wouldn't know it since the released 12" single only featured the first 10 minutes.
    • In his live shows, he was known to do something like five or six fake-out endings to "Purple Rain" and "Kiss," to the point where it actually becomes hilarious.
  • Epic Riff: "Let's Go Crazy," "1999," "Bambi" (from Prince) "Endorphinmachine" and who are we kidding, most of his songs.
  • Fetish Retardant: It can happen. The front cover of Lovesexy didn't fare so well.
  • Growing the Beard: It's debatable on when this actually happened. His mastering the integration of synths on 1980's Dirty Mind; the zeitgeist-defining Purple Rain in 1984; his mature auteur sensibilities crystalizing on Sign O The Times in 1987: all of these and more points in between work. Prince's run through-out the 1980s made huge leaps forward in terms of artistic growth, from synth-funk to psychedelia and beyond, so perhaps one could go so far as to say the better part of that decade was one long beard-growing period.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: "Let's Go Crazy" featured the lines "And if the elevator tries 2 bring U down... go crazy! Punch a higher floor!" and "Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down? Oh no, let's go!" On April 21, 2016, Prince was found dead at Paisley Park Studios... in an elevator. And even before hand, the intro as as it says:
    "Dearly beloved, We are gathered here 2 day to get through this thing called life..."
    • Parade's last track, "Sometimes It Snows In April" is a sad, one-take ballad about the death of a close friend. Prince ended up dying exactly 31 years after its recording date of April 21, 1985.
    "Sometimes I wish that life was never-ending But all good things, they say, never last..."
    • The Heartbeat Soundtrack on "Sex in the Summer," taken from an ultrasound of Prince and then-wife Mayte Garcia's unborn child, is impossible to listen to with the knowledge that said child died at six days old.
  • 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. The icing on the cake is that Prince wrote a song called "We Can Work It Out" shortly after signing his first contract, which repeats the line, "Making music naturally / me & WB," a few times at the end.
    • 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. Since then, fans knew that if Prince hyped something up, it was either going to be total shit or would never get released at all.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks: Controversy got some of this, being the follow-up to Dirty Mind.
  • LGBT Fanbase: Subverted. Prince did have plenty of queer fans, but the way he carved out his own definition of masculinity made him especially popular with black men in the '80s who were either questioning or straight and didn't fit in traditionally masculine roles. Despite this, Prince remained mum on fully acknowledging that side of his base, and, in an interview with Chris Rock, implied that he wasn't comfortable with homosexuality, at least for himself.
    Prince, on the failed duet version of Michael Jackson's "Bad": "Now, who is going to sing that ["Your butt is mine"] to whom? Cause [he] sure ain’t singing that to me, and I sure ain’t singing it to [him]."
  • Memetic Mutation: Prince's symbol name caused him to be referred to as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, as it had no defined pronunciation. The name became universally mocked.
    • The opening dialogue to "Computer Blue" – as well as many lines from Purple Rain – are prized by Prince fans. When the Revolution actually reunited for a one-off Purple Rain-centric performance, they catered to this by including a full section of fan-favourite dialogue - which included Brownmark's non-verbal Aside Glance at his wristwatch from the practice scene.
    • Even though it came from Dave Chappelle and Charlie Murphy's classic skit about The Purple One being great at basketball, this quote will forever belong to Prince:
    "Game. Blouses."
  • Misaimed Fandom: One of the tributes to Prince after his passing was by a butcher who dyed all their sausages purple, apparently missing the fact that Prince had been a vegan for 20 years.
  • 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 U in Me", the entirety of "Scarlet Pussy", or the amount of times he crosses from Intercourse with You territory to ball-kneeing idiocy.
    • Speaking of "Scarlet Pussy", Prince also released another cat and dog-themed b-side: 1987's "La, La, La, He, He, Hee".
    • If there is anyone who could deliver the line, "I've had dreams of us coming on the planet Mars / and when I wake up, I'm all covered in sex," seriously, it's Prince. And he did, on the 1994 song "Space".
    • For The Rainbow Children, Prince re-used the slowed-down, slurred monologue voice from "Bob George" – the one previously responsible for gems of wisdom like "I'll slap yo ass 2 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.
    • "Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife" off of Emancipation.
    • To critics, and even many fans, his flirtations with rap fall here (as well as the fact that he dissed it, and then went on to use it for several consecutive years afterward.) 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. For a re-recorded version of "1999" made in that same year, he even brought old school rapper Doug E. Fresh out of obscurity to So Okay, It's Average results. Probably his only song where his rapping gets a definite pass is "P Control".
      • Amusingly, "Alphabet St." seems to accidentally lampshade this: Prince chants "Cat, we need U 2 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.)
      • See also, Prince's verse from "Push", which was printed in its entirety on the back cover of Diamonds and Pearls (and which conveniently contains half of the track list of that album.)
    "It's THUNDER when eye'm on the mic, DADDY POP is in the house and u're sho 2 like his DIAMONDS, sho 2 like his PEARLS cuz eye'm good 2 CREAM every boy and girl cuz eye'm STROLLIN', steadyhippoprockin' rollin', a WILLING AND ABLE horny ponynote  and eye'm pumpin' em from Pakistan 2 Poland, straight into yo town... snatchin' up kiddies like a circus clown."
    • The choice of words in Prince's mid-90s run of ballads would be riddled with deflating jokes if sung by any other person. His 1991 ballad "Insatiable" has him consistently referring to his girl as "Martha" instead of "mama", and includes lines like, "Like a wildcat, Martha, in a celibate rage / I want your love, in my dirty little cage"
    • 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 that phallic guitar.
    • Being anti-internet was a major point of contention for many, ever since he sued a young mother for one of his songs incidentally appearing in the background of a clip of her baby dancing. As of August 2015, Prince's music can only be found on the Tidal platform, having yanked his music off of Spotify and Apple Music (only in early 2017 would his music be added to said services). His sense of Disproportionate Retribution was so high that he even took Radiohead on for a fan posting a video of himself covering one of their songs in concert, but he actually backed away when Radiohead and their fans came after him.
  • 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 Un 2 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 nonchalant references to rape at the end) 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").
      • "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" was released off Sign O' the Times in 1987, though the earliest recording session was around 1982.
  • Protection from Editors: Once he gained this after splitting from Warner Bros., he barreled straight towards Seasonal Rot territory.
  • Seasonal Rot: Prince began the 1990s by ditching every shred of his previous backing band The Revolution, creating The New Power Generation instead, which focused more on a live band and '90s R&B tropes. Prince was growing increasingly embittered by his record contract, which led to a lot of quickly released cash-ins to end his contract. As a result, critics and fans don't love his nineties work as much as his eighties.
  • Second Verse Curse: "Kiss."
  • Signature Songs: "1999", "Little Red Corvette", "When Doves Cry", "Purple Rain" and "Kiss." Although "1999" is more fondly remembered now, "Little Red Corvette" is pointed to as the moment when Prince became well-known in the mainstreamnote ; "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 but can be thought of as the "Stairway to Heaven" of the 1980s. And "Kiss"..... well, even casual fans know all the words to that one, as it's usually the go-to song on North American radio stations.
  • Stylistic Suck: The Piss-Take Rap "Dead On It." Prince started taking rap music seriously soon after.
  • 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.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Around The World In A Day, the follow up to Purple Rain, had a lot to live up to as it was, but critics were significantly colder to his new, psychedelic direction. A couple of particularly Narm-tastic tracks didn't help.