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Pitchfork names “Purple Rain” the best song of the 1980s

Prince in 'Purple Rain'

Pitchfork has just published its much-hyped list of the 200 best songs of the 1980s, and at the top of the list is the title track to Prince’s soundtrack Purple Rain, recorded live at First Avenue.

Purple Rain, the album and the film, were the magic results of Prince’s limitless imagination and bridged an invisible aural divide, premised on race, that, up until that point, only Michael Jackson had truly managed to transcend,” writes Anupa Mistry in tribute. “And ‘Purple Rain’ the song is where it all came together in majestic fashion.”

Putting Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” at number two, Pitchfork argues that the Purple One and the King of Pop together broke barriers between rock and R&B, paving the way for some of today’s most influential artists—including Kanye West and Beyoncé.

Prince, writes Mistry, “with his wardrobe and rude falsetto and kinetic performances, had perfected ‘flawless’ decades before Bey made a song about it. And so it’s staggering to comprehend that the version of ‘Purple Rain’ beloved by lovers and sensualists around the world was recorded live in the moment, on stage at a Minneapolis benefit concert in the summer of 1983.”

On the Pitchfork list, Prince also comes in at numbers 11 (“When Doves Cry”), 21 (“Kiss”), 33 (“I Would Die 4 U”), and 69 (“When You Were Mine”). “Glamorous Life,” a song Prince wrote and gave to Sheila E (“it’s a song that went to the right person”), lands at #160.

Minneapolis slackers the Replacements make #66 with “Alex Chilton” (“an anthem about the best band that should’ve been”) and #126 with “Bastards of Young” (with a write-up that cites the song’s supposed inspiration by Uptown’s Sons of Norway building).

Janet Jackson is also represented on the list by “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” (#27), “When I Think of You” (#48), and “Control” (#126), all made in Minnesota with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. “The Minneapolis Sound” is also represented at #96 by Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neal with “Saturday Love,” another Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis production.

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