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.