Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //
MUSIC

Prince's Top 10 tracks: Essential works in an artist's sublime career

Singer Prince performs in a surprise appearance on the

Singer Prince performs in a surprise appearance on the “American Idol” television show finale at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, in 2006.

CHRIS PIZZELLO/REUTERS

We can spend the rest of the week – or, really, the rest of our lives – mourning the death of Prince Rogers Nelson, a.k.a. Prince, a.k.a. that unpronounceable symbol that was once dubbed Love Symbol No. 2.

But instead of wallowing in grief and expending our energy wondering what the rest of Prince's life might have looked like, we should celebrate the man, and his wonderfully sublime music.

It is, if we can speculate for just a moment, what Prince would have wanted.

Story continues below advertisement

1. When Doves Cry (1984)

The lead single from Prince's landmark album Purple Rain was the artist's first worldwide hit, but more than that, it was an early crystallization of his singular style: a ballad that's also pure pop, with enough heartache laced through it to cut the most cynical of music fans to the core.

2. Sign o' the Times (1987)

Just try to get this keyboard riff out of your head as you float along Prince's spare yet transcendent arrangement. After working the charts to expert effect with his albums Parade and Around the World in a Day, this single was the first indication that Prince had larger, more complex ideas in mind.

3. Kiss (1986)

In a clear example that the record industry has no idea what it's talking about, Warner Bros. pushed against releasing "Kiss" as a single, perhaps thinking it wouldn't match the heights of "When Doves Cry" or "Let's Go Crazy." Naturally, the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, but more importantly, it's an ear-worm masterpiece that perfectly fuses funk and rock. I bet you're humming it right now.

4. Purple Rain (1984)

Story continues below advertisement

At his best, which was often, Prince could take myriad genres and both harmonize and reinvent them within the span of three minutes or so. "Purple Rain" is perhaps the best example of this freakishly impressive talent, with the artist mixing rock, pop, gospel, blues, a tiny bit of jazz and even orchestral music into one epic track that will cement his reputation for generations to come.

5. Let's Go Crazy (1984)

The opening organ solo is enough to send any listener into a rabbit hole of '80s nostalgia. But more than that, Prince's concert staple is a riotous roller coaster of joy.

6. I Would Die 4 U (1984)

As if Prince reached into the chest of every teenager in North America and ripped out their still-beating heart. And then set that gruesome act to song. This is a huge compliment, by the way.

7. Cream (1991)

Story continues below advertisement

If we're being honest with each other – and Prince would demand nothing less – the artist's best, most memorable work occurred in the '80s. That's not to say he wasn't a prolific beast of a musician throughout his short life, but rare are the '90s or early aughts standout tracks. Yet "Cream," off the 1991 album Diamonds and Pearls, is a vital track that flicks at notions of vanity and excess in just the right amounts.

8. Somebody's Somebody (1997)

OK, one more essential Prince track from outside the '80s: this thick, deep ballad off his Emancipation album – the one in which he adopted the aforementioned unpronounceable symbol to promote. It was, we can all agree, an ill-conceived stunt, but this lone song was worth it.

9. Raspberry Beret (1985)

The musical embodiment of cruising through your favourite neighbourhood with the top down, the sun blistering your skin to the point that you just don't care. Oh, and add a few hot bouts of sex. Lots and lots of sex.

10. Batdance (1989)

OK, you might laugh, but this track from Tim Burton's first Batman film – oh, for the days when Zack Snyder wasn't in charge of our superheroes! – is a witty and deliciously cheesy send-off to a decade that, save Prince's contribution, most of us would rather forget.



THE GLOBE ARCHIVES

Prince in Toronto in 1996: ‘This is one of my best moments’ The Globe’s Elizabeth Renzetti caught up with the artist about the release of his three-CD opus Emancipation.
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Latest Videos

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies