Artist in Focus: Prince

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A singer, a songwriter, a musician, a producer, an actor, an icon. Prince, born in Minneapolis in 1958, was an artist that epitomised the musical innovation of the 1980s. As a musician, he refused to be caged to society’s norms, and dazzled the world with deeply erotic lyricism, excessive gyrating and tight spandex clothing that showed off the beauty of every inch of the 5’2 superstar. Being such a true individualist, and multi-talented artist, it is no wonder that Prince is recognised worldwide as a true inspiration and one of the most successful entertainers to emerge from the 80s.

In a decade that we now look back on to be immersed with so much pop culture and musical iconography, it can be easy to forget some artists amongst the swamp of 1980s paraphernalia; however, Prince undoubtedly stands out from the crowd. As a musician he was eclectic, as a performer he was flamboyant, and as an artist he was immense. Renowned for being a maverick and nonconformist in his nature, he created an identity for himself that was to live long in the memory of generations. Since his untimely passing in 2016, bonafide pop legend has continued to inspire and remains a unifying symbol of all that was good about 1980s music.

Having sold over 100 million albums worldwide during his lifetime, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, his first year of eligibility. Producing his most prominent works in the ‘80s, he released a series of ground-breaking albums including 1999, the album that really kick-started his career in 1982, with the titular track remaining one of Prince’s most well-known. However the icon’s most celebrated work Purple Rain was released in 1984, embodying the culmination of funk, pop and rock that made Prince’s sound so distinct and revolutionary. As well as boasting timeless classics such as ‘When Doves Cry’ and ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, Prince introduced arguably one of the best songs of all time in its titular track, ‘Purple Rain’. The song utilises all of Prince’s vast vocal range, provides a mellifluous gospel chorus, and a fabled piercing guitar solo that lingers, still to this day, in the remnants of nostalgia.

Oozing a confidence that even surpassed arrogance, he painted himself as a deity amongst mortals. Whilst also adapting his album Purple Rain into a movie of the same name and starring as the lead role, Prince continued to display his multi-faceted arsenal of ability in his music until his death, all the while transgressing the boundaries of gender and sexuality, pioneering this sense of individuality that is so characterising of the ‘80s, along with the likes of George Michael, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. As a true genius, his music will never be forgotten even long after we are wiped from the face of the Earth, for generations to follow us will undoubtedly bask in all his purple glory. He was born a man, lived as Prince, and died as a king of pop.

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