If this is the 10th-best Prince song, how awesome is this list going to be? His Royal Badness welcomes us all into his ministry with this soaring rock ballad, whose performance served as the climactic moment of redemption in his semi-autobiographical 1984 movie 'Purple Rain.' The song's transcendent guitar-and-vocals coda is the cigarette-lighter moment of nearly every Prince concert.
'I Wanna Be Your Lover'
Prince's first big hit single -- from his 1979 self-titled sophomore album -- seems like a pretty straightforward song at first. He wants to be your lover, makes sense. Wait, he wants to be your mother and your sister too? Then he tacks on a two-minute instrumental jazz odyssey at the end? He may be extremely talented, but, understandably, a bit offbeat, too.
'Do Me, Baby'
At his best, Prince blends genres together so seamlessly that it's somewhat surprising when he sticks to one style for an entire song. Which is exactly what he does here, on this straight-ahead R&B piano ballad from 1981's 'Controversy.' He does push the envelope lyrically, however, with an unashamed sexual frankness that quickly becomes one of his calling cards.
Can you imagine what James Brown thought when he first heard how Prince had managed to somehow wind the Godfather of Soul's brand of stripped-down funk even tighter, and yet make it swing more freely, on this piece of genius from 1986's 'Parade?' If only for one song, the student truly surpassed the teacher.
After conquering the world with his icy "punk funk" blend of rock guitars, synths and drum machines, Prince threw out his whole palette and set out to extend his reign with an all new, warmer sound. He pretty much succeeded, too, especially on this string-heavy, effortlessly gliding, romantic tale of a chance encounter from 1986's 'Around the World in a Day.'
'Let's Go Crazy'
Rock guitar was always featured more prominently on Prince's early records than on those from his R&B or pop peers'. Still, it wasn't until he unleashed what we can safely call "THAT solo" at the end of this opening track from 1984's movie and soundtrack 'Purple Rain' that he announced himself as a full-fledged guitar hero. (Bonus: Public Enemy sampling the solo.)
'Little Red Corvette'
The sexually frank lyrics and cover photo of Prince's first Top 10 hit, from 1982's '1999,' probably initiated earlier-than-expected sex education talks between young listeners and their parents. A year later then-Senator Al Gore's wife Tipper formed the Parents Music Resource Center and targeted Prince for censorship over the lyrics to another explicit song, 'Darling Nikki.'
The title track from 1982's breakthrough album '1999' is not only one of the best Prince songs, it's pretty much the most upbeat, optimistic song ever written about the end of days. He promised he'd never play it again after ringing in the year 2000 on a pay-per-view concert. Eight years later he reneged, but can you really blame him?
It's a great surprise to see this horn-fueled slow jam from 1987's masterpiece 'Sign o the Times' so high on this list, as it was never even released as a single. Maybe it's the sense of humor he displays here while pledging his devotion: you can burn up his clothes, smash up his ride, well... maybe not the ride.
'When Doves Cry'
By your vote, the best Prince song ever. Hard to argue, it's got everything you could ask for -- guitar histrionics, evocative lyrics, and a genre-busting, unconventional song structure made all-the-more special by the Purple One's typically daring decision to remove the bass line entirely, for fear he'd sound like everyone else. Not much chance of that, huh?