Playlist: Remembering Prince

April 21, 2016, the world lost one of music’s iconic and talented musicians, Prince. He was truly a legend who left a huge impression on music with his style, songs, and vision. He was a versatile artist who constantly pushed boundaries and challenged perceived notions of music. Since he was bigger than life, even though he only stood 5’3, you don’t picture him working with a lot of other artists or even performing covers. His music is so good, why should he play other people’s songs? But, surprisingly, Prince extended himself to various musicians and created memorable, yet underrated duets. At the same time, he also put his funky, sexy spin on songs you’d never guess he’d play. So let’s remember the late Prince by looking back at some of his most notable duets and covers.

“Love Song” – Madonna + Prince

When listening to Madonna’s landmark album Like a Prayer it’s easy to gloss over this smoldering track. The sexy ballad features the two music icons being seductive with one another. It’s a smooth, sexy track meant to put you in the loving mood. So how did the two end up working together? “We were friends and talked about working together, so I went to Minneapolis to write some stuff with him, but the only thing I really dug was ‘Love Song’ […]” With its funky groove and steamy lyrics, it’s more of a Prince song. It sounds like something that belongs on one of his albums and doesn’t mesh well with the pure pop of the rest of the album. You would think a song featuring two of the biggest acts of the 80s would get more attention. But the track couldn’t really compete with massive singles “Like a Prayer” and “Dear Jessie.”

“Creep” – Radiohead

You don’t expect someone like Prince to do too many covers, especially considering how many hits he has in his catalog. But during his headlining set at 2008 Coachella, he pulled out a number of them. He played The Beatles’ “Come Together,” Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice,” The B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” But the most talked about moment was his blazing cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Though the elements of the original are there, he turns the track into something completely his own. When he pulls out the extended solos and falsetto vocals, it doesn’t even sound like the same song. It’s amazing to listen to especially since he never played any of the band’s songs before. But of course, Prince wasn’t happy when footage of the cover went live online. He ordered the video to be taken down, which Radiohead reverted since it’s their own song.

“Waiting Room” – No Doubt + Prince

This is another unexpected Prince collaboration. Found on No Doubt’s Rock Steady, it’s got a bit of groove, it’s kind of soulful with a dash of synth and pop. Thanks to Prince’s work on the track, it sounds nothing like the band’s previous or later material. Apparently, Prince agreed to work on the track as a favor to the band since Gwen Stefani appeared on his track “So Far, So Pleased.” They sent him the track and he completely rewrote it. His influence can be heard all over the song. If it wasn’t for Stefani’s lead vocals, you would swear it’s a Prince song. It’s one of the weirder, yet satisfying options from No Doubt’s 2001 album.

“Best of You” – Foo Fighters

Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl Half-Time performance was the first time I realized just how versatile and insanely talented he was. We know how hard Prince rock’s his own material, but not too many other songs. That changed when he busted out renditions of “Proud Mary,” “All Along the Watch Tower,” and Foo Fighter‘s “Best of You.” You wouldn’t expect to hear falsetto shrills in a Foo Fighters song, but Prince truly made that track along with the others he featured all his own. He infused them with his attitude, flair, and a healthy dose of soul like no one else ever could. Though some people didn’t think he was worthy of handling the show, his performance is still hailed as one of the best in Superbowl history. Watching it now, it still gives you chills, especially when he busts out “Purple Rain” during an epic downpour.

“A Love Bizzare” – Shelia E + Prince

Prince was so unique and had a style unlike any other that his essence pours out of every song he writes. This duet with his protégé Shelia E, features the Purple One on background vocals and on bass. But even though Shelia E is the focus of the song, it’s undeniably a Prince song. With its upbeat funky groove, irresistible hook, and sultry lyrics it could’ve come from any of his albums. Though his contribution is kind of downplayed on the studio version, the live version has his flamboyance all over it. Like so many of his tracks, this one is fun, energetic, and sexy. Then again, what Prince song isn’t sexy?

“Every Day is a Winding Road” Sheryl Crow + Prince

Any artist collaborating with Prince should know once he makes an appearance, he steals the show. That’s what happened during this live collaboration with Sheryl Crow. The two performed a hard-edge version of her hit “Every Day is a Winding Road.” Prince does backup vocals and shreds away on his iconic guitar. Shortly after this performance, Prince recorded his own version of the track for this 1999 album Rav Un2 The Joy Fantastic. If you’re lucky enough to find this version, you’ll find a completely different song. It’s funky, slinky, and downright sexy, which you don’t expect from a Crow song. It’s soulful and makes you want to dance. The cover is so good, Crow should hand it over to Prince to be rightfully his. On the same album, the two collaborate on the track “Baby Knows,” which has this cool rock, funk swing to it. If you want to hear it, you better pick up the record; they’re impossible to find online.

“Why Should I Love You?” – Kate Bush + Prince

Kate Bush is an iconic figure in alt rock. Her music is often dreamy, otherworldly, and elegant. So it’s a bit unexpected to learn she worked with Prince. The song, which appeared on her comeback album The Red Shoes, starts out with an air of whimsy and airy and quickly turns into a Prince jam. Seems to be the usual pattern with Prince collaborations. Apparently, Bush sent him the track back in 1991 so he could add background vocals. He not only added vocals but a lot of instrumentation. Since it sounded so different, Bush wasn’t sure what to do with it. They worked on it for two years trying to make it fit Bush’s sound. Clearly, it didn’t work.

“A Case of You” – Joni Mitchell

Prince is known for his sexy, funky style, but on this Joni Mitchell, we get to hear a different side. While it still has an air of sensuality, the track is absolutely gorgeous. It’s an intimate moment with Prince and a piano that’s unforgettable. Hearing his soaring falsetto vocals and the classy tinkling piano keys leave you in awe. We all know Prince was such an amazing guitar player, it’s often easy to forget what a versatile musician he was. This cover shows the beauty and elegance he could add to songs, whether they were his or not. This version is a stark difference from Mitchell’s original folk stylings.

“Love is a Losing Game” – Amy Winehouse + Prince

This haunting and somber track from Amy Winehouse’s final album Back to Black, received the Prince treatment several times live. Footage of this is difficult to find, but luckily, the two eventually teamed up for a powerful rendition of the song. Winehouse joined Prince onstage in 2007 during his final show at London’s O2 Arena. He leaves her to take care of the vocals while he tears it up on guitar. In case you forgot what a badass he is on guitar, you’re quickly reminded on this track. It’s an unforgettable collaboration, though you can’t help but feel a little sad since both musicians passed on unexpectedly.

“Honky Tonk Woman” – Rolling Stones

Prince started performing this song live in 1993, but his version was never officially released. Previously, it could only be found on the Japanese version of The Undertaker. The cover received a wider release when Warner Bros. shared rehearsal footage of Prince performing the track shortly after his death. He turns the song into a scorching number with meaty guitars and a bad ass solo. If you needed more proof of what a genius Prince was at playing guitar, just watch this video where he shreds away with an “I make this look good” look on his face.

“Give Em What they Love” – Janelle Monae + Prince

Prince doesn’t easily hand out compliments and didn’t hide it when he didn’t like someone. But he did admire Janelle Monae, who looked up to him. Luckily, the two worked together for this track from Monae’s second album, The Electric Lady. Not only does Prince play guitar, he also provides co-lead vocals on the track. The song is already is already hot with Monae’s passionate vocals and seductive demeanor. But having Prince sing his signature falsetto makes the track even sexier. Plus, it’s funny to hear Prince utter the term “chicken head.” It’s funky, has a healthy dose of attitude, and makes you feel sexy as hell.

“One of Us” – Joan Osbourne

Prince covered Osbourne’s sole hit for his 1996 album, Emancipation and played it live in concert. With this track, he takes you to church. His soulful delivery, cries for the crowd to join him, and his passionate singing makes it feel like you’re in the middle of a sermon. You want to close your eyes, sway your arm in the air, and shout “preach!” as he’s singing. While there’s nothing wrong with the original, Prince’s version is superior especially with the fiery guitar solo that gives it an extra edge. He even uses the track to take a dig at his former label, Warner Bros. by changing the line “Just a slob like one of us” to “Just a slave like one of us.” This shows if Prince had a problem with you, he’d let you know it in the sassiest way.

“Shhh” – Tevin Campbell

There’s no question about it; Prince was a sexy mother. Just about everything he did dripped with sex. He does the impossible on this Tevin Campbell cover; inject a song that’s about getting in on and make it 100 times dirtier. No, he doesn’t change any lyrics or anything like that. It’s all in his over the top delivery. Hearing his falsetto cries of pleasure you’d swear he was having sex while recording the song. If that wasn’t enough to get you hot and bothered, the blazing guitar solo will do the trick. He takes a typical 90s slow jam and turns it into a sex romp. Only Prince could somehow make a sexy song even sexier.

“Crimson and Clover” – Tommy James and the Shondells 

If you thought Joan Jett made this song rock, you haven’t heard Prince’s version. For the most part, it’s a straightforward cover with Prince being playfully coy during the breakdown of “I think I love you” and blowing kisses into the mic. It’s not until the solo where he makes this song sizzle. In case you needed a reminder what an awesome guitar player he was, Prince make sure you remember with this performance. He makes the guitar burn and blaze like he’s Jimi Hendrix. It leaves you stunned the way he makes the guitar whine, scream, and trill. The cover appeared on his album LOtUSFLOW3R, but it’s his performance of the track on Ellen that gets a nod here.

Which ones of these Prince covers/duets is your favorite? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!



CrazySexyCool – TLC

Release Year: 1994

Rating: 8/10

Before there were the Spice Girls there was TLC. These three sexy ladies hit the scene in the early 90s with their funky clothes and sexual awareness. For their second outing they showed how they matured, were still sexually aware, but also knew what they wanted out of a relationship. The result is an R&B classic filled with hits people still love and sing today. Though the LP isn’t perfect, it’s aged extremely well and remains the essential TLC record.

TLC were never afraid to talk about sex as seen on songs like “Ain’t too Proud to Beg” and “Baby Baby Baby,” but here they did it with style, class, and sensuality. This is first seen on the ultra cool track “Creep.” It’s a mix of R&B, hip hop, and New Jack Swing, but it’s the jazzy horns heard at the beginning that really make the whole thing pop. And the way T-Boz sings “Oh I, Oh I, Oh I-I” is beyond infectious. The song also presents a different perspective on the cheating partner. Rather than getting revenge on her man, she chooses to have an affair herself with no shame. Somehow these girls make cheating sound sexy and sensual. Because of its timelessness, it remains one of their best tracks.

Kick Your Game” has always been my favorite from the album because it’s so damn smooth. It’s another track that mixes R&B and hip-hop to get its smooth, sleek vibe. The whole groove of it gets you moving to the music. The girls talk about how a guy has to be able to kick his game well in order to take her home. It’s also one of the few times on the album where we get a stellar verse from Left Eye. She is noticeably missing from most of the tracks because at the time of recording she was in rehab for her arson conviction. But this is one of the places where she shines as she has a tight flow and presents clever wordplay. “Diggin on You” is another great song from the trio that has more of a mellow groove that puts you at ease. This one has a simple hook that easily gets lodge in your head. Also, who doesn’t love the image of T-Boz chilling with her Kool-Aid? That whole line makes you think of summer, which isn’t too far off (unless you’re in Chicago).

If you’ve been following the blog for long enough, you know I have little patience for interludes. Unfortunately, they’re all over the place on this album. The record kicks off with “Intro-Lude,” which features a rapper talking about how sexy the girls are. This theme comes back on “CrazySexyCool,” which repeats those words for a short amount of time. It’s so short that it’s useless. The only thing that’s interesting about these tracks is how they feature P.Diddy and Busta Rhymes. Otherwise, they don’t add anything to the album. They’re often boring and try to set up a sexy mood, but the songs themselves are better at doing this.

What I love so much about the album is how the girls aren’t shy with their sexuality. They weren’t the first girl group to talk about sex and love, but they do it so boldly on tracks like “Red Light Special” and “Let’s Do it Again.” They know what they want out of their partner and they’re not afraid of asking for it. They have no shame in it; women are sexual beings and they wanted you to know that. But they also knew the repercussions that can come with sex as they showed on the classic “Waterfalls.” Though the music is cool and groovy with a hint of funk, the song is really bleak. What’s eerie is how relevant the message remains today. This is another place where Left Eye gets to shine and show what a talented rapper she was. Her verse is one of the most memorable of the entire track. It’s a shame she wasn’t featured more on the LP.

One of the underrated tracks has to be “Case of the Fake People.” Right off the bat it has a catchy beat that instantly pulls you in and is another track with an awesome groove. It’s a catchy song about getting rid of all the phonies and fakes from your life. What makes it so good is how it works on a simple grooving beat that repeats throughout the song. TLC kick it old school on “Switch.” It takes a sample of “Mr Big Stuff” by Jean Knight to give the track that vintage Motown vibe. The girls sport so much attitude here as they preach on not giving in to anybody. Left Eye makes an appearance and even has a cool shout out to “Rapper’s Delight” during her verse: “At the hotel motel Holiday Inn/I said if your man starts actin’ up/Switch and take his friend.” The whole thing is cheeky and lots of fun, which fits the mood of the album.

This is the essential TLC album that shows what made the girls so talented. They’re fierce, sexy, and don’t wanna put up with your shit. Though some of the songs are more catered to R&B fans, there are still a lot of well loved classics on the record. 20 years later, the LP sounds as fresh, smooth, and cool as it did when it first came out. The message of strong, independent women not having in shame in their sexuality still rings true. There’s no doubt that T-boz, Chilli, and Left Eye were pioneers in the 90s Girl Power movement that the Spice Girls would later claim.

SNL: The Musical Performances Volume 2- Various Artists

51HDwlQVCiL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Release Year: 1999

Rating: 6/10

These days it seems like Saturday Night Live is only known for their musical performances. In the past they’ve have some of the biggest names in music and even gave the world some of the most memorable moments, like Ashlee Simpson doing a ho-down when her prerecorded tape started early. 1999 marked 25 years of the show and to celebrate they released a compilation album with several notable performances from the show’s time. While some of these are interesting, most are boring and make you wish they picked different artists for the disc. Still, I thought I would check it out since I randomly have it in my music collection.

The biggest draw to the collection is Nirvana’s “Rape Me.” Not only is it notable for the fact that the song was rarely performed live on television, but it marks a highlight during the band’s career. Honestly, I’ve heard better versions of the song live. It’s interesting to hear at least, but fans will have more fun watching the actual performance. Also, this is around the time where Cobain’s drug use was loud and clear and it seems to be affecting his singing. I personally think another Nirvana song would have fit better on the collection, such as “Territorial Pissings” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Not only do these two songs represent their first time on SNL, but they sounded their best.

Another highlight from the collection is Green Day‘s “When I Come Around.” As always the guys sound good, but again there’s nothing remarkable about this live performance. The only thing that makes it special is it was their first time on the show and it occurred during their peak in 1994. I would’ve preferred if “Longview” was here instead seeing as that’s the more energetic song of the two, but at least they sound good. For anyone who hasn’t seen it before, it’s kind of a thrill to hear, but again fans would get more enjoyment seeing the actual performance.

The best song from the disc is Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” What makes this rendition so great is you can feel the thumping bass when the song starts and when they start rapping, they have you’re full attention. They’re so energetic and aggressive with the delivery it’s hard not to get into the song. Plus, it’s one of their best singles, so there’s nothing better than hearing it live. The one artist that should’ve been left off the disc for numerous reasons is Hole. There’s nothing remarkable about them and they don’t even sound good on the track. Also, so many fantastic musicians have performed on SNL they easily could’ve picked someone else like Queen. In fact, this is the biggest problem with the album. There have been better guests on the series, yet instead they choose to highlight Mary J Blige and Oasis on the collection.

The rest of the songs here are just okay. It’s always great to hear REM’s “Losing my Religion” live, but what’s the point if you can’t see Michael Stipe’s spastic dance moves? Dr. Dre does a great job with “Been There Done That,” and TLC‘s “Creep” never gets old. While I do like Janet Jackson’s sensual and sexy “Any Time, Any Place” one of her more well known, faster numbers should’ve closed out the record. And even though the Pretenders are legendary, surely there was a better song to pick than “I’ll Stand By You.” These fifteen tracks just don’t cover the expansive history of the show and some of the biggest names in music that have actually graced their stage. And before you think about checking out volume 1, don’t waste your time. The artist picks there aren’t any better.

Overall, the album gets 6/10. If you really want to have this in your collection for the Nirvana or Green Day track, make sure you don’t pay anything more than $1.50 for the album. While there are some great artists here, there’s nothing remarkable about the performances. Even though they were great to watch, they don’t translate as well on a disc. Some of the artists should be left off completely, while others had better song choices to be highlighted. If you come across this one it’s better to leave it alone and see the performances on Youtube.