One of the most revered artists — not only singer but indeed artist in the consummate sense — is a legendary guitarist whose stardom soared through the eighties. With a mix of pop, funk, soul and R&B, he defined an era of pushing genre and pop art boundaries that may have otherwise been overshadowed by the dominance of the one and only King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
While known most for his iconic Purple Rain song released in 1984 with the film that won him an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, Prince produced hundreds of unforgettable hits throughout his storied career, including Little Red Corvette (1982), 1999 (1982), When Doves Cry (1984) and Raspberry Beret (1985).
Today we feature Kiss, a song composed, written and produced by Prince and released in 1986. Ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, the song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and many others and has stayed a fan favorite to this day.
With a simple bass line marked by its funky rhythm and simple harmonies, the song stands out for its beats that truly seem to “pop.” The song is broken by timely breaks in rhythm and rides on Prince’s transcendent vocals that wind and squeal between heavy beats, beckoning listeners to dance and move. One of the most striking parts is the guitar solo that begins about two-thirds of the way into the song that starts with harmonic riffs that don’t seem to make immediate harmonic sense but nevertheless fit in with the true definition of funk. The song persists and insists the same way Prince does throughout the song.
While the sonority stands apart from the soul genre from a couple of decades prior to Prince’s breakout hits, the song actually stays true in lyrics and in ethos to the soulful songs of old. In much the same way James Brown beckoned and Otis Redding reassured, Prince pleads the partner to simply provide “your extra time” since the partner need be neither “rich” nor “cool to “rule my world.” There is “no particular sign that turns me on” and one could nevertheless “have a good time.”
Certainly, the song and the music video may be more sexually explicit than those of yonder years.
Yet, the sentiment backing this funky beat and soaring vocals remains the same: love is love, and the frivolous materialism of wealth and demeanor — and in this case, even clothes — are irrelevant to the depth of love symbolized by a simple kiss: