This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #408: Kiss by Prince.
In the mid-1980s, Prince was one of the top five most popular entertainers in the entire world. With record sales near 100 million albums, Prince ranked among the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Madonna in the stratosphere of music royalty. Prince was riding high on the success of the album Purple Rain and already had enjoyed hit records such as “Let’s Go Crazy”, “Little Red Corvette”, “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry”. He was The Purple One; donning ruffled shirts and purple waist coats, oozing sexuality and cool, thumbing his nose at the prudent forces at work in America (such as Tipper Gore). Prince was on top of the world. As fans, we waited with bated breath for what he would do for a follow-up.
Like many creative genius-level talents, Prince was never content to simply repeat his cycle of success. He sought to reinvent himself. In doing so, Prince tossed away his frilly frocks and opted for a slicked back, film-noir look of tailored suits and serious looks. He produced a movie called Under the Cherry Moon (which was universally panned) and released a soundtrack album called Parade. On that album was a song called “Kiss”. “Kiss” was released in 1986 and became a #1 hit. It was certified Gold and sold in the millions and, along with 1987s “Sign O’ the Times”, it became his last big time taste of commercial success.
Like many Prince songs, “Kiss” is all sexual innuendo and anticipation. The official video is one of the most revealing out of all of the songs that appear on this list of the Top 500 Songs. In fact, there are multiple versions of it in existence; the “cleaner” version of which appeared on MTV (when MTV was still showcasing music videos). “Kiss” was famously covered by a band called, Art of Noise who, for their version of the song, called upon the talents of famous 1970s Welsh icon, Tom Jones, to sing the lead role. Their cover version of “Kiss” remains equally popular among music fans. Needless to say, I will show you both.
Over the course of a career that spanned over thirty years, Prince maintained a high level of control over his musical affairs (recording endlessly at his Paisley Park studios in Minnesota). He was as electrifying a live performer as there was with his appearance as the half-time act at The Superbowl generally ranked as the best performance there of all time. He was also a generous sponsor of other acts (such as Sinead O’ Connor, Sheena Easton and Sheila E.). Prince may be best known for the Purple Rain soundtrack *(We will see those songs later in the countdown) but, he still produced some of the funkiest, most vibrant and original music ever, of which, “Kiss” holds a special place in his musical canon. Here are both versions of “Kiss”. Enjoy.
The link to a live music video for Kiss by Prince can be found here.
The link to the music video for Kiss by Art of Noise (featuring Tom Jones) can be found here.
As one might expect, Prince has a website worth checking out. You can do so by clicking on the link here.
Thanks to KEXP for being such solid supporters of important music made by important artists. A link to their website can be found here.
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