Monday, August 8, 2011

8/9/11- Prince- Uptown (1980)

I figured since my first post was about a soon to be hit across multiple formats, that I'd follow it up with a true hidden jem.

"Uptown" was released a few years before Prince's breakthrough song, "1999" was released. By 1980, Prince had one successful single to his name- 1979's I Wanna Be Your Lover, which almost made top 10. In context, Prince was still an obscure, androgynous R&B star on the brink of stardom.

"Uptown" is a pretty damn immaculate, lost disco tune. One of the highlights from his critically acclaimed Dirty Mind, the best part of the song is the break in the beat at the in the second verse, which has turned out to be highly influential even in today's pop songs. He explicitly addresses his percieved feminitity-

"Baby didn't say 2 much - she said, "Are U gay?"
Kinda took me by surprise, I didn't know what 2 do
I just looked her in her eyes and I said, "No, are U?"

So, as the rest of the story goes... 1999 vaults him into buzzworthy, and Purple Rain makes him an ultimate superstar. Sign O' the Times becomes the Sgt. Pepper of the 80's, and label controversy and opposition ultimately destroys his run of successful singles.


It really seems like a simple song given the production of today's standards, but the song is notable for a few things. The album the single was hosted from, "Dirty Mind", feature songs about oral sex, homosexuality, and incest- quite racy for 30 years ago. I mean seriously- check out this awesome album cover. It's a standard disco tune with an awesome melody that would have been a huge hit post Purple Rain. Only hardcore Prince fans seem to be familiar with his pre-1999 albums, (though I may be naive as I was still 6 years from being born) but they are definitely worth checking out.

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