Seeing Michael Jackson on the news a lot recently has made me remember back to my youth when he was at the top of the charts with the Thriller album.
I was always one to go against the grain. While people were wearing their knockoff of the ‘Beat It’ Jacket, with their silver sequined glove, while trying to Moonwalk, I was listening to Prince. Prince’s music was just easier to dance to. There was also this forbidden aspect to it, because a great many of his songs were banned from being played at school during recess as well as dances.
Back then, Prince was considered a considered a pariah for his suggestive music and the higher ups at school thought the students would become promiscuous if they listened to it, so many songs were not allowed to be played on the campus. We were encouraged to listen to Michael Jackson as well as o other music of that era which was deemed safe for our innocent ears. Admittedly there were a few songs of Michael Jackson’s that were great; ‘Rock with you,’ Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' and ‘Billie Jean’ were extremely danceable songs because what most kids wanted to do, was dance. I remember the junior high dances, when ‘Thriller’ or ‘Beat It’ would come on, and the gymnasium floor would become nearly empty, except for the talented few who could break-dance or moonwalk. The dance floor would always fill up when the few Prince songs that were allowed to be played, came on. It was just easier and more fun to groove to Prince’s tunes and you didn’t need to learn any special choreography.
I’ve always just found the majority of Jackson’s music to be overrated. And each album that followed seemed to get more overly manufactured as if style was more important than substance. Michael Jackson seemed to concentrate more on his commercial appeal which I think, compromised his artistic ability.
I was fortunate enough to see Prince in concert and I was astounded to see how many instruments he actually played. Also, whenever Prince went on tour, he never uses pre-recorded music. Michael Jackson; on the other hand, used pre-recorded music during many of his tours.
What it basically comes down to; is that Prince is a musician, and Michael Jackson is more of an entertainer and that’s probably why I feel the way I do. All of Jackson’s post Thriller albums have music that sound like they’ve come out of one of those glitzy Las Vegas shows. While with Prince, all his subsequent albums throughout the 80s, 90s, and 2000s have all been different and unique.
Prince has shown incredible diversity as well as growth throughout his career. He has transcended music genres as you can feel elements of rock, pop, and soul throughout most of his albums. Many of today’s top artists in rock, pop, soul, and even country have done covers of some his greatest work. And while he has been a bit of an oddity as well, it never got in the way of the music.
It’s just so ironic to see how the tide has changed for these two icons so its only fitting that I start the playlist with ‘Controversy’, which was one of the first songs I heard when I was a kid and it’s really eerie how some of the lyrics pertain to the recent news events of today. ‘When You Were Mine’ in my opinion, is one of Prince’s best early works and Cyndi Lauper does a fabulous version of it. Erotic City is probably one of the most popular b-sides in music history. Back when singles were released as 45s, ‘Erotic City’ was the song that came with ‘Lets Go Crazy’ and it became a club hit and was one of the many songs banned from being played at school dances across the country during that period because of its suggestive nature.
Along with Prince’s most notable hits, included in this list are some of the best cover versions of his music. It’s amazing how exceptionally well these songs have held up over the year which further seals his status as a true artist.