What’s poppin’, y’all? June is chock full of things to celebrate (Juneteenth, Pride Month, Father’s Day, the official start of Summer), and two more great things about this month is that it’s not only Black Music Month but it’s also the month of Prince’s birthday (June 7th)!
Prince would’ve turned 64 this year, and I’m certain he still would’ve been blessing us with great music if he were still here. Thankfully, this man gave us an extensive catalog of songs during his lifetime, and despite being exposed to Prince ever since I was a baby, I still come across some of his music I’ve never heard before. With that being said, I wanted to post a fun tribute to one of the best singer/songwriters that walked this Earth, and I figured there was no better way to do that than to list some of Prince’s best underrated songs. We’ve all heard the classics such as “Little Red Corvette,” “Diamonds and Pearls,” and “Purple Rain,” but there’s so many other tracks out there that show Prince’s musical genius.
There’s a slight difference with this list, however. Prince has so many great songs that I couldn’t do a top 10 or a top 20. For the first time ever, I had to make this list a top 30! Let’s do this thang!
30. “Dinner with Delores”
I first heard “Dinner with Delores” when I was about 15. It was during the summer of ’96, and Prince just released his Chaos and Disorder album, which was the perfect way to describe his then ongoing epic feud with Warner Bros. I happened to catch the video on BET one afternoon, and despite the fact that I wasn’t sure about it at first, and I wouldn’t hear the song again for another 20 yrs. or so, I never forgot about it. I believe it was that line about Delores “dancing like a white girl” that stayed with me. Sometime after Prince passed away, I gave the song another chance, and I ended up loving it. The simple acoustic guitar is beautiful, and what’s really intriguing is that Prince is singing about a woman that actually turns him off. That should go down in history. Y’all know what my favorite line in this song is? When Prince tells Delores, “Introduce the carpet to something other than your knees.” In words of Billy Butcher, “That’s diabolical!”
29. “Annie Christian”
Prince’s 1981 Controversy album is named that for a reason. The project is chock full of the sex charged tracks that we’ve all come to love, but there’s also songs that speak on politics and religion, like “Annie Christian.” I copped Controversy when I was 13, and I remember bugging my mom about who Annie Christian was and why Prince was so compelled to make a song about all the horrible things she did. Mom blew my pubescent mind when she revealed that Annie Christian was a deliberate mondegreen for anti-Christian. In the song, Prince talks about how “Annie” was involved in multiple atrocities throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s, such as John Lennon’s murder, the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, the Atlanta child murders, and even ABSCAM. In the meantime, Prince calls to fight against “Annie” with gun control and rallies for her to meet her end via the electric chair. “Annie Christian” isn’t my favorite song by His Royal Badness, but it’s damn powerful, and it speaks truth to something we all know too well: the devil is always busy.
Like “Annie Christian,” “Sister” isn’t my favorite Prince song. As a matter of fact, I hardly listen to “Sister,” and I never include it in my Prince playlists. However, it deserves to be on the list because once you hear it, you’ll never forget it. I was 13 when I finally got my hands on the Dirty Mind album—I bought Dirty Mind a few months before buying Controversy—and I couldn’t wait to get home and listen to all the R-rated tracks. When I popped the disc in my mom’s CD player, I had a good ol’ funky time listening to Prince’s raunchy lyrics…until I got to “Sister.” The 1:32 song has an up-tempo melody overshadowed by a dark story about a 16 yr. old young man who had an affair (dare I say he was molested) with his 32 yr. old sister. After the abrupt ending, I went from having fun to feeling sick. The trippy part is that being the nerd I am, I already knew about the subject matter of the song because I read about Dirty Mind extensively before buying it. Nonetheless, hearing the song and the pain in Prince’s voice still creeped me out, and it’s still a bit unsettling to this day. Interestingly enough, I learned that people speculated whether or Prince did indeed have an affair with his older sister, Norrine, seeing as she was 32 when Prince was 16, just as the song describes. Lord…
27. “I Wanna Melt With U”
26. “Private Joy”
“Private Joy” is one of the more lighthearted tracks on Controversy, and it’s about—you guessed it—sex! What I always loved about “Private Joy” is that it’s a quintessential ’80s song, with the loud synths and happy up tempo beat. It sounds like a song you’d hear in an aerobics class back in the day. I mean that in a good way. Interesting fact: the guitar solo Prince plays near the end of the song was sampled on the song “Orgasm,” which was featured on his 1994 Come album. Speaking of Come, it was the first Prince album I ever purchased as well as the first album I ever bought with my own money, period. Dirty Mind was the second, and Controversy was the third. Prince and I definitely go back a long way.
25. “Joy in Repetition”
As I mentioned in my Top 10 Worst Sequels list a few years back, Graffiti Bridge is a trash ass film. I didn’t like it when I was a 10 yr. old child, and I ain’t feelin’ it now that I’m a 40 yr. old woman. Despite the movie being hot garbage, the music is sublime. One of the songs that I love from this soundtrack is “Joy in Repetition.” The bluesy guitar and dreamlike lyrics are beautiful, and of course, Prince blesses us with a killer guitar solo towards the end. That almost makes up for that mess of a movie…almost.
24. “Sexy Dancer”
I first heard “Sexy Dancer” when I was 12, and I loved it from jump street. “Sexy Dancer” doesn’t really have a lot of lyrical content, but it’s rich in instrumentation and has that early Prince era vibe that I live for. Plus, it’s just a funky song. I dare you to listen to the song and not be compelled to dance.
“How beautiful do the words have to be before they conquer every heart?” Prince started “Dolphin” with this line, and he must’ve known the answer, because the minute I heard this song, I was vanquished. “Dolphin” is featured on Prince’s 1995 album The Gold Experience (which was recently re-released!), which I purchased during my Freshman year of high school. From of the winter of ’95 until spring ’96, The Gold Experience stayed in my Discman, and “Dolphin” was one of my favorite songs from the album. The lyrics were just so poignant and heart-touching, and it’s clear now that Prince was low key protesting his treatment by Warner Bros. in the song. I especially loved the hook:
If I came back as a dolphin would U listen 2 me then
Would U let me be your friend
Would U let me in
U can cut off all my fins
But 2 your ways I will not bend
I’ll die B4 I let U tell me how 2 swim
And I’ll come back again
As a dolphin
When Prince passed, I posted the chorus to this song on my Facebook page as a tribute to him. I honestly wonder if Prince came back as a dolphin. 🐬
22. “The Question of U”
One of the few somewhat decent scenes in Graffiti Bridge—and I do mean few—was the part where Prince and Aura make their love official, while “The Question of U” plays in the background. It’s basically a love song that’s super sexy despite not having the usual raunchy lyrics Prince was known for around this time. Like “Joy in Repetition,” “The Question of U” employs a blues inspired guitar and drum beat that makes the song perfect for a night in with your significant other.
21. “P. Control”
“P. Control” is another song from Prince’s “rap” era, and this time he spits bars about a woman who can hold her own and doesn’t need a man. I always got a kick out of Prince’s Hip Hop influenced songs, and “P. Control” was another one of my favorites from The Gold Experience project. Aside from it being a badass song, there’s other reasons “P. Control” holds a special place in my heart. First of all, when I first saw Prince perform the song on the first annual VH1 Fashion and Music Awards show, I couldn’t believe he was on stage wearing a suit (it was fire engine red, but it was a suit)! Prince wasn’t a suit and tie guy, especially back then. Secondly, I never heard someone say the word “pussy” on basic cable without it being edited out up until that point (keep in mind, this was back in 1995). By the way, if you’d like to hear the full unedited studio version of “P. Control,” I’ve posted the video below (Prince really went hard on them bars). I had to post Prince’s performance, though. It brings back some great memories.
20. “Tell Me How U Wanna B Done”
Another one of the tracks I adored from the Love Symbol album was “The Continental,” and I especially loved how the song switched up toward the end and became a totally different melody. I remember thinking to myself that the latter part of the song should be a standalone track, because I liked it even more than the main section of “The Continental.” Some other fans must’ve felt the same way, because when Prince released his Crystal Ball compilation in 1998, it featured “Tell Me How U Wanna B Done” as a standalone—albeit remixed—track. Although the composition is different than the original add-on, the song still slaps, and I personally love the remixed background music with the added synthesizers (I’m a sucker for synthesizers) and the heavy bass track.
19. “Born 2 Die”
“Born 2 Die” was featured on Prince’s posthumously released album, Welcome 2 America, which was made available last year (Prince originally planned to release the album back in 2010, but ultimately decided against it for reasons unknown). At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to listen to the song, given the title was “Born 2 Die,” and I still can’t believe that Prince is no longer with us. However, I ended up hearing the song on Sirius XM’s Prince Channel, and I learned the subject focused more on a young girl whose bad decisions and reckless lifestyle led to her (possible) demise. She ends up being thrown from a window, but it’s unclear whether or not she survived the fall. The voices of the frightened and concerned women on the street that witness the girl fall were a nice touch to the song, by the way. What really drew me to the song was the Curtis Mayfield-esque narrative and musical arrangement, mixed in with Prince’s signature sound. A song I initially thought would depress me ended up being a wonderful discovery that I couldn’t stop listening to.
“Reflection” is a different type of song for Prince. It’s a bit of a stream-of-consciousness track where Prince just muses on household chores, his mother, mortality, childhood memories, and how he’d love to do nothing more than sit on his stoop and play his guitar. It’s such a sweet and beautiful song, and it was the perfect tune to conclude the Musicology album. I remember listening to “Reflection” on a sunny spring day back in ’05, and as the song played, I took in the blue sky and flowers, and I found myself crying. This song and that memory still make me tear up.
17. “Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me?”
In 2019, Prince’s estate released Originals, which is comprised of all the demos Prince recorded for the songs he wrote for other artists. I knew the majority of the tracks like “Sex Shooter,” “Manic Monday,” and “The Glamorous Life,” but there were a few songs on there I never heard and “Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me?” was one of them. I loved it immediately. When I did further research on the song, I learned Prince recorded it sometime between 1981 and 1982, but the loud organs, funky guitars, and Prince’s signature falsetto take me straight to the Dirty Mind era, circa 1980. I believe that’s what I love so much about it (in case you haven’t noticed, Dirty Mind is among my favorite Prince albums). I rocked “Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me?” (as well as the entire Originals album) incessantly during the summer of 2019, and I still play this song during the hottest season of the year.
16. “The Marrying Kind”/”If Eye Was the Man In Ur Life”
Okay, I realize I’m kind of cheating here, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want. Just kidding (not really)! Seriously speaking, on the Musicology album, once the “The Marrying Kind” ends, it immediately segues into “If Eye Was the Man in Ur Life,” which appears to be a continuation of the same topic. In these songs, Prince talks about a woman he’s in love with, who unfortunately is with a no-good idiot that treats her like crap. He goes on to mention how he’d be different if he was her significant other, but the woman can’t seem to let her no-good man go. For all intents and purposes, we’re gonna say this these two songs are one continuous track, like “The Continental” and “Tell Me How U Wanna B Done.” Musicology was released back in spring 2004, when I was working at my first job after college. The job sucked—it was actually the second worst job I’ve ever had—but I have such great memories of jammin’ to these songs on the drive home from that hellhole. Like most of the songs on the Musicology album, these take me back to Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls era, and you find yourself dancing to the music before you even realize it, especially with “If Eye Was the Man in Ur Life.” These songs make it easy for you to get lost in them and forget about all the bullshit you had to put up with earlier in the day. Be sure to listen to both the tracks back-to-back, the way they were meant to be heard!
When I was a teenager, my mother refused to buy Prince: The Hits/The B-Sides for me. Part of the reason is that the box set was sold at a then whopping $45.00-$50.00 (y’all, that was a lot for a CD box set in 1994 and 1995), but I later learned that Mom was also concerned about me hearing too much of Prince’s racy content (which is a trip, considering that I already heard Prince say some of the freakiest shit ever…more on that later). As a result, I was 38 when I finally got to hear the entire B-side portion of The Hits/The B-Sides, and I was introduced to “Girl.” Thanks, Apple Music! “Girl,” along with “17 Days” and “She’s Always in My Hair” (which will also be discussed later), was one of my favorite songs on the B-side section of the box set. Whenever it comes on, I can’t help but shake my shoulders to the infectious beat. It has a happy-go-lucky tune that just lifts your mood, and if you’re already feeling good, “Girl” makes you feel even better.
14. “Breakfast Can Wait”
In 2013, Prince announced that he had a new single and that he posted the video for the song on his YouTube channel. For those of y’all that don’t know, this was a VERY big deal, because Prince wasn’t the biggest fan of YouTube, and if anyone dared to post some of his material on the site, he’d have it taken down with the quickness. The new single was “Breakfast Can Wait,” and it was an immediate hit for me the moment I heard it. By this time, Prince was a devout Jehovah’s Witness and stopped with the raunchy lyrics, but he was still more than capable of making a sexy bop. “Breakfast Can Wait” is a hot, yet fun track, and I loved the video as well as the song itself. Sadly enough, the original video was taken down after Prince passed, but it’s since been posted again. Trivia: the girl in the video is Danielle Curio, who went on to be known as DaniLeigh. She was only 18 when she starred and directed the video! Check out the original video below (I hope they don’t remove it again).
13. “Somebody’s Somebody”
The first time I heard “Somebody’s Somebody,” I was on my way to work and as usual, I was listening to The Steve Harvey Morning Show. Steve decided to play a Prince song that morning just for the hell of it, but he wanted to play one that wasn’t that popular, so he played “Somebody’s Somebody.” I grooved the entire time, and I must not have been the only one, because the next day Steve mentioned that he received a flood of requests to play the song again. Steve was more than happy to acquiesce, and I was more than happy to hear that track one more time. “Somebody’s Somebody” is smooth, yet funky, and I can certainly relate to wanting a special someone in your life. Shoot, I’m still looking for the right guy.
12. “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”
As I mentioned in my post about the 2016 BET Awards, the first time I really heard “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” was when Erykah Badu did her tribute to His Royal Badness that night (I vaguely remember hearing it when I was younger, but I could be talking out of my behind). The song intrigued me—namely the somewhat cryptic lyrics—so I did a bit of research on it. The fans on prince.org broke down the meaning of the song from start to finish and deciphered the metaphors, causing me to have an even greater love and appreciation for it. With writing like this, it’s no wonder Prince’s Sign o’ the Times album has so much love.
11. “She’s Always in My Hair”
You’re probably wondering why “She’s Always in My Hair” is on this list. Long before I finally listened to the song in 2019, I’d hear it mentioned from time to time, but I feel like it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. It should be playing on the radio just as much as “Little Red Corvette” or “Kiss.” The music draws you in and immediately and makes you wanna dance. I think my favorite part of about “She’s Always in My Hair” is that bass in the background. It’s the “secret sauce” for the song, as Bruno would call it. I fell for the guitar and the drumbeat, too.
10. “1000 X’s & O’s”
In late 2015, I was working another job I hated (I had a good many of those), and while taking a much needed break from all the bull, I sat in my car and listened to the radio. That’s when I heard “1000 X’s & O’s” (pronounced “A Thousand Hugs and Kisses”). Prince proved once again that he hadn’t lost a thing, and I was desperate to get the track. I ended up buying it from iTunes not too long after I first heard it, and to this very day, I play it every year as a part of my summer playlist. The bass and Hip Hop infused melody make it perfect for a beautiful summer’s day or a warm evening. I have to say…I never would’ve thought I’d lose Prince a few short months after first hearing “1000 X’s & O’s.”
9. “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night”
Before I became a Prince mega fan at the tender age of 12, I loved the Diamonds and Pearls album, and “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” was one of my favorite songs from that project. Even as a child, I understood that money wasn’t everything, but the song hits even harder now that I’m an adult, especially when Prince mentions that folks need to be more worried about the state of their souls than how much cash they have in their pockets. In all honesty, “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” holds some nostalgia for me, too (then again, most of these songs do). Back in ’91, my aunt, uncle, and my sister came to visit me from Syracuse, NY, and the video for “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” was set to premiere on BET. My aunt was psyched, because she loved Prince, and she especially loved the song. I didn’t even realize she was a Prince fan until that moment. When the video premiered, she was glued to the TV, and couldn’t stop singing along to it. I still think about my aunt whenever I hear “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night.”
Y’all, “Automatic” really doesn’t get its just due. I know what you’re thinking, “Most of the songs on this list don’t get their just due!” That’s true, but “Automatic” really doesn’t. Not only was “Automatic” one of the best songs on the 1999 album, but I wasn’t even aware Prince filmed a video for it until I was in my early to mid 20s. Thank God for Dailymotion (I’m sure Prince had that shit taken down once he realized someone posted it without his permission; he didn’t play that). “Automatic” has it all: quintessential ’80s synths, a killer guitar solo, sexy lyrics, and Lisa torturing Prince. Give “Automatic” its flowers, dammit!
7. “When You Were Mine”
I realize that I have a story about all these songs, but here’s something interesting regarding “When You Were Mine”…the first time I heard it, Prince wasn’t the one singing it. I was about 4 or 5 when I first heard Cyndi Lauper belt out the lyrics on her She’s So Unusual album. I noticed that Prince wrote the song, which I thought was interesting (even at that young age), and I later learned that Prince didn’t just write it, he originally sang it, just like “I Feel For You.” Side note: when Cyndi sang her version, she didn’t change the pronouns, which means she was either singing about a girl she once dated, or a man that left her for another man. That’s pretty gutsy for the early to mid ’80s. I heard the original version when I was 12, and I loved it even more than Cyndi’s (no disrespect, because Cyndi’s version is badass). It remains one of my favorite Prince songs, and when I learned that Prince passed away, I listened to “When You Were Mine” on the way back home from work. I found myself crying midway through the song. I’ll never forget that.
6. “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”
Lord, this song… When you see the title for “Let’s Pretend We’re Married,” you’d automatically assume it’s a sweet ballad of a man madly in love with a woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with, and if he can’t do that, he just wants to pretend for a few hours. That’s what I figured when I was 12. I couldn’t have been more wrong. “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” is a sexually charged party tune about a man who just got dumped by his girlfriend, and after meeting a hot chick, he lets it be known that he wants to get busy with some strange all night. After Prince pleads his case—or should I say, begs her to fuck him—he goes on to tell the girl that he wants to—and I quote—“Fuck the taste out of [her] mouth.” I kid you not. Imagine 12 yr. old me hearing that while playing Kirby’s Adventure on my Nintendo! I actually had to move the record needle back to make sure I heard what I heard! Then Prince, being the three-dimensional man he always was, muses on having fun but also having a strong belief in God. “Let Pretend We’re Married” is a really fun song, and it’s also one of Prince’s raunchiest, which is saying a lot. Check out the uncensored version below in all its glory (don’t bring your kids!).
I’m sure you’re asking the same question about “Scandalous” that you were for “She’s Always in My Hair”: “Why the hell is this song on the list?” When “Scandalous” was first released in 1989 for the Batman soundtrack, it was all over the radio. After my mom bought the Batman cassette tape, we played it all the time. However, as the years went by, I don’t see “Scandalous” get the same recognition as some of Prince’s other ballads like “Insatiable” or “Call My Name.” The irony in that is I always felt that “Scandalous” was a pre-cursor to “Insatiable.” 33 yrs. later (damn, I’m getting old), I still adore this track, and feel like it’s one of Prince’s sexiest songs. “Scandalous” is timeless.
4. “Sometimes It Snows in April”
I loved “Sometimes It Snows in April” ever since I first heard it on Under the Cherry Moon. Aside from “Kiss,” it’s my favorite song from the Parade album. It’s one of Prince’s more melancholy tracks, basically discussing (***SPOILER ALERT!!***) how Tricky has to go on now that his best friend, Christopher (Tracy), died. After Prince died (which eerily enough, happened in April), “Sometimes It Snows in April” took on a whole new meaning of significance. I still remember when D’Angelo covered it on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, with Maya Rudolph singing backup. There was a point in the song where he mentioned Prince being in heaven, and he had to pause to compose himself. That nearly made me cry. Despite the song being extremely sad, I still enjoy listening to it, because it’s so beautiful. When I leave this mortal coil (which I hope will be many, many, many, YEARS from now), I want this song to be sung at my funeral.
3. “Damn U”
I remember when “Damn U” was first released as a single. My mom bought the cassingle immediately (those were a thing in the ’90s) and she damn near let the tape rock until the tape popped. I didn’t mind, though. I loved the song just as much as she did, and this was just a few short years before my fandom escalated to 10. Prince’s sultry ballad from the Love Symbol album is among his absolute best, but like “Scandalous,” it hardly gets the same recognition as Prince’s other love songs. To this very day, “Damn U” remains one of my top Prince tracks, period.
In early 1996, Prince was voted VH1’s Artist of the Month, thanks to his then new single, “Gold.” The channel played the song on a pretty regular basis (it was nowhere near enough for my standards, though), and needless to say, I loved it more every time I heard it. “Gold” has a beautiful and uplifting message about loving life and being thankful for the things you do have. Some of the lines hit harder now that I’m a 40 yr. old woman as opposed to being a 14 yr. old girl. For example, “What’s the use of being young if you ain’t gonna get old?” really gets me. I haven’t listened to The Gold Experience in its entirety in years, but “Gold” never escaped my memory. It definitely deserves to be up there with “Purple Rain.”
“D.M.S.R.” (dance, music, sex, romance) has been my jam since I was in junior high. As a matter of fact, the same night I listened to “Let’s Pretend We’re Married,” “D.M.S.R.” followed right behind it, allowing me to recover from the shock of hearing Prince say he wanted to fuck the taste out of a chick’s mouth. I’ve adored it ever since. “D.M.S.R.” is just a straight up song about having fun, and whenever I’m in the mood to hear an upbeat Prince tune, “D.M.S.R.” is one of the go to’s. I still crack up at the line, “All the white people clap your hands on the floor now!” Before y’all blast me for being non-PC, Prince goes on to shout out other races and nationalities as the song goes on, including black people. I only have one question: Why was Lisa crying and pleading for help at the end of the track? That still perplexes me. Trivia: In the film Risky Business, “D.M.S.R.” can be heard playing in the background during the scene where Joel is being interviewed by Harvard rep Bill Rutherford. I knew I liked that movie for a reason.
“Mary Don’t You Weep”
Prince’s 1983 stripped-down piano version of the old Negro spiritual is extremely moving. It was the perfect track to conclude Spike Lee’s 2018 film BlacKKKlansman.
“Eye Hate U”
“Eye Hate U” was one of the first songs I heard from The Gold Experience, and it taught me that you can simultaneously hate and be madly in love with the person that shattered your heart.
Prince’s ode to embracing your sexuality—all while telling parents to do a better job raising their children—has always been my jam, but I have a question: What was Prince’s deal with tourists? I was also gonna ask what the hell an “acujack” is, but I Googled it. I finally learned what acujacks are after 27 yrs. in the dark.
“It’s Gonna Be Lonely”
“It’s Gonna Be Lonely” is a heartfelt ballad from The Purple One, featured on his self-titled second album. I used to love to listen to this song after school.
Last, but not least, “Cinnamon Girl” is a powerful song from the Musicology album that details a young Muslim girl’s life after 9/11, and the subsequent discrimination she has to face.
We still miss you, Prince! ❤️❤️
—Written by Nadiya
Do you agree with the list? Which songs to you think should’ve been added to the list? Which songs should’ve been left off? Which songs on the list are you a fan of? When did you become a Prince fan, and what song sealed the deal for you (it was “Raspberry Beret” for me)? Let me know in the comments section!