The concept of “Minneapolis sound,” a conflagration of rock, pop, funk and new wave, would likely not exist if not for Prince. His musical style and ostentatious stage presence was a major influence on his contemporaries, especially Morris Day and the Time. He was greatly influential throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, although Prince still performs to this day.
Prince had begun to go platinum in the late 1970s, particularly after releasing the songs “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” on his 1979 self-titled album. In the early 1980s, however, he released the album 1999. This was a breakthrough success for the pop artist, with notable songs such as “Delirious” and the highly successful “Little Red Corvette.” His popularity was further increased when he followed this album with Purple Rain, as well as the film of the same name starring himself and Morris Day.
Prior to the success of “Little Red Corvette,” television station MTV did not regularly play a number of songs by black recording artists. Purple Rain further bolstered Prince’s mainstream success with songs such as “Baby I’m a Star,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Darling Nikki” and, arguably most notable, “When Doves Cry.” Not only were these songs instrumental to the continuation of Prince’s success, but the film influenced black culture and the manner in which artists such as Prince were perceived.
His public image continued to experience a major boost in 1987, when he released Sign “O” the Times to critical acclaim. It was the first album he made after splitting with his backing band, the Revolution. It covered a diverse range of both musical and lyrical themes, with party songs such as “Housequake,” love songs of both a sexual and romantic nature such as “It” and I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” religious songs such as “The Cross,” and “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” a song notable for its approach to gender. The album was diverse enough that its songs can be compared to those of such varied artists as James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Pink Floyd and Joni Mitchell. Nevertheless, it still had the notable Minneapolis sound for which Prince had become popular.
Prince’s creative talent is one of his most legendary qualities. He is known for being able to come up with ideas on the spot, and his home is wired for sound in every room so that he never has to let an idea slip away. He also helped to pioneer the use of sex appeal to sell music, especially in his music videos. Some have considered him similar to most hip hop artists in these regards, as well as in regard to his penchant for ghostwriting for other artists and for inventing aliases such as Joey Coco, Jamie Starr, Alexander Nevermind, and the “love symbol” that would lead to his status as “the artist formerly known as Prince.”
Prince’s long career has resulted in a number of hits, as well as an influence on numerous pop stars who use stage presence and sex appeal as one of the driving factors behind their success. His is one of the most memorable names of the 1980s, and his name is just as recognizable today as it was at the height of his career.
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