Local Current Blog

1984 was pop’s greatest year, says Rolling Stone—and Prince was the best thing about it

Prince in 'Purple Rain'

In a feature just published today, Rolling Stone declares 2014 the 30th anniversary of “pop’s greatest year.” 1984 was “the year that pop stood tallest,” according to several collaborators on a feature listing the 100 best songs of that year. And who stood tallest in 1984?

Well, Madonna was pretty good—her “Borderline” comes in at #2. Michael Jackson? Yeah, “Thriller” merits a #4 slot. But the artist who towered over this “greatest year” in pop history, says Rolling Stone, was Prince. Tracks from Purple Rain occupy three out of the list’s top ten slots, coming in at #1 (“When Doves Cry”), #4 (“Let’s Go Crazy”), and #8 (“Purple Rain”).

Perhaps even more incredible is how the list evidences Prince’s wide-ranging influence. In addition to the Purple Rain tracks released by Prince himself, the Purple One is also closely associated with several more tracks on the list:

Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You” (#3) was written by Prince, and first appeared on his self-titled 1979 album.

Sheila E.’s “The Glamorous Life” (#10) was written and produced by Prince, originally intended for Purple Rain‘s Apollonia 6. (That makes fully half of the list’s top ten songs written by Prince.)

The Time’s “Jungle Love” (#29) was written by Prince with Morris Day and Jesse Johnson, and performed by Prince’s alter-ego group the Time in the movie Purple Rain. Cherrelle’s “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On” (#52) is considered a prime example of the “Minneapolis Sound,” produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

All in all, if Rolling Stone is to be believed, Prince dominated the greatest year in pop history.

We celebrated the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain in July by making Prince our artist of the month. Read my retrospective of Prince’s career, listen to Andrea Swensson’s audio documentary about the movie, and check out Steve Cohen’s then-and-now photos of Minneapolis spots that appeared in Purple Rain.

  • Callis

    No argument, from me! 1984 was Prince’s year…hands down. I flashback on the memories. A time when you didn’t hear a song, until it was actually released or played on the radio. Where the only “social media”, you had, were you’re circle of friends in high school! I use to play ‘When Doves Cry’ non-stop and at full blast from the radio! Screw the neighbors…lol! Ah, those were the days….

  • Suzy Six.5

    Every year is a Prince year

    • Edmon Scott

      Boom! Yep

  • Rochelle Spencer

    Awesome blog post! Prince is so talented, and his talents are so wide-ranging, from performance to song writing.

  • paulg1259

    Been a fan since purple rain…spent my time as a hardcore p.funk disciple until I heard when doves cry and went out to investigate.been a follower ever since 1984 made it happen for me

  • Teaflax

    And, predictably, fully 85% of the songs on that list are just not pop (except in the sense of being “popular music”). RS is really a bastion of musical cluelessness (except for praising Prince, but still…very sad).

  • MeteoroVet

    I’m more a 1979 kinda guy…