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Thread started 11/21/11 6:06am

electricberet

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Condorcet Poll: Best Prince Songs (Discussion Thread)

This thread explains the methodology for an upcoming Condorcet polling series that will rank Prince’s best songs, with the entries chosen based on the results of 39 individual polls conducted over the past six months. I am addressing this post to those who have participated in the earlier polls, or who would like to participate in the final rounds, and who want to understand or discuss the details of what we will be doing. If that’s not you, stop reading now and turn back before it’s too late—I’m sure there are other threads on the org that might be more fun. There is no need to understand all this in order to vote in the polls, but I’m posting the information here for any who may be curious.

With that warning out of the way, let me summarize how we got here for those who haven’t followed the Condorcet polls from the beginning. Earlier this year, I had the idea of starting a series of polls to rank all of Prince’s songs in a systematic way. There is a huge reservoir of knowledge on the org about Prince’s music, but the usual “favorite song” or “best song” threads that pop up regularly on here can’t lead to a meaningful ranking because there is no sophisticated mechanism to vote on the choices. I thought it might be interesting to use the free Condorcet Internet Voting Service (run by Cornell University) so that orgers could rank the songs on each Prince album as well as the various non-album tracks. Although I had to abandon the project after a few polls, fellow orger Javi courageously stepped in and has nearly completed the project. We have now conducted separate polls covering all of Prince’s official albums, the A-sides and B-sides of Prince’s U.S. singles, and other miscellaneous songs nominated by orgers. For a full list of the previous Condorcet poll threads with links, click here and scroll down:

http://prince.org/msg/7/370794

Now that the individual polls have been completed, we need to combine the results and hold final polling rounds to determine the best Prince songs overall in the opinion of the org. Javi and I have given considerable thought (perhaps too much thought) to the best way of accomplishing this. My stated goal at the outset was to determine the overall top 25 Prince songs. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, that number must have occurred to me subconsciously due to the way American college football teams are ranked: a topic which, I readily admit, has no significance for Prince’s music, although “Purple and Gold” shows that American football is not outside his field of interest. However, any other numerical cutoff would be equally arbitrary, and the system we’ve devised will result in a lot more than 25 songs being ranked in the final round, although the concept of the top 25 will play a role in our scheme (more on that below). We took our inspiration for the final rounds partly from a system that was helpfully proposed by orger UltraLash in the thread following the Crystal Ball poll, although we made some modifications to that proposal to better take into account all the data we now have.

One problem with ranking songs by such a prolific artist is that even a list of the best of the best will be very long, and we want to encourage people to vote by keeping the lists as short as reasonably possible. Ultimately, we decided that the final polling should occur in two rounds, and that the songs should be divided into two categories. The first category of songs are what we refer to as “automatically qualifying” (AQ) songs: songs that did so well in the individual polls that they will automatically make it to the final round without any intermediate vote. The second category of songs are “wild card” (WC) songs that did not do well enough to qualify as AQ songs, or could not be classified as they appeared on albums with no singles, but also performed well in the individual polls. The first round of polling would rank the WC songs, then the top 25 from that round would be matched up against the AQ songs in the final round. In addition, if all of the WC songs included in the first round from a particular album or poll make it to the top 25, one additional song from that album or poll will advance to the final round for every song that made the top 25 in the first round. This will result in two lists of songs that are fairly long, but (we think) not unreasonably so.

We decided to use the poll of A-sides from U.S. singles as a reference to determine the cutoff for the AQ list. Prince and his management were likely to choose what they considered his best songs to be released as A-sides on singles in his home market. While Prince’s fans haven’t always agreed with those decisions, the A-sides that are in fact popular on the org must be among his very best songs. Therefore, any song that did well in our A-side poll, or any album track, B-side, or unreleased song that ranked higher than such a song in one of the other polls, should automatically be included in our final round. Anticipating this, we included certain reference A-sides in the non-album song polls. To decide the cutoff for which songs should make it to the AQ round, we eventually settled on “Alphabet St.,” which ranked #13 in the A-sides poll and was used as a reference track in the miscellaneous song polls. Any song that beat or tied “Alphabet St.” in any of the polls is an AQ song, and any song that beat or tied a song that beat “Alphabet St.” in any of the polls is also an AQ song. We chose “Alphabet St.” not because we are particularly fond of that song (though it is catchy enough), but because using a higher-ranked song would have resulted in an AQ list that we considered too short, and using a lower-ranked song would give us an AQ list that was too long. Using “Alphabet St.” as the reference, we ended up with a list of 39 AQ songs, which we considered to be about right for the purpose of determining the top 25 overall Prince songs.

The next question was how to decide which songs would be ranked in the first round as WC songs. For the individual album polls, we decided to take into account two factors: (1) how well each album did in the initial poll that ranked the albums, and (2) how many discs made up the CD version of the album. Ultimately, we have assigned 2 songs per disc to the top 11 albums, and 1 song per disc for the remaining albums. The top 11 from the album poll is significant both because it includes The Black Album, which is unusual in being a high-ranking album that produced no singles, and because it is a stable group no matter which Condorcet completion rule you select (this is a technical point that I could discuss further if anyone is interested). We also felt that it was appropriate to award more WC songs to SOTT in the first group and Crystal Ball and Emancipation in the second, since those albums contained much more music relative to the other albums in their respective groups. We are aware that other albums were double albums on LP even though they are single CDs, but the difference is not meaningful for albums that were designed for the CD format, and 1999, the only double album from the pre-digital era that was released as a single CD, happened to produce three WC songs due to a tie between “D.M.S.R.” and “Lady Cab Driver.” In all cases where there was a tie for a qualifying spot, we included the songs that tied, and we took the top 4 non-AQ songs from both SOTT polls, since we had to have a revote after the first SOTT poll was terminated prematurely, which means that there are actually 5 WC songs from SOTT. To round off the list of WC songs, we chose the top 5 non-AQ songs from the B-sides poll and from the final round of the miscellaneous songs poll.

Since it is possible that some albums have more excellent songs than their ranking in the overall album poll would suggest, we have also stipulated that if every song included from a particular album (or from the poll of B-sides or the final round poll of miscellaneous songs) makes the top 25 in the first round, we will include one additional song from that album or poll for each song that made the top 25 in the first round. To suggest a hypothetical example, if the top two tracks from The Black Album end up making the overall top 25 in the first round, we’ll include two more songs from The Black Album in the final round (specifically, “Rockhard In A Funky Place” and “Superfunkycalifragisexy,” the songs that ranked third and fourth in that poll respectively), in addition to the two that ranked in the top 25 of the first round. On the other hand, in the event that the one entry from Rave makes the top 25, we’ll include one more song from Rave (the title track, which came in at #2 in the Rave poll) in the final round, plus the song that made the top 25 in the first round. However, if one of the tracks from The Black Album makes the top 25 in the first round and the other doesn’t, only the track that made the top 25 will advance to the final round and no additional songs from that album will be included. And if the top-ranked song from Rave fails to make the top 25 in the first round, no additional songs from Rave will be added to the final round. The same goes for all the album polls, along with the B-sides poll and the final round poll of miscellaneous songs. Given the number and variety of songs that made the WC list, we don’t expect many additional songs to make the final poll through this rule, but we won’t find out until the first round is conducted.

We know that our methodology is not perfect. In two subsequent posts, I will list the songs that we’ve determined to be AQ and WC songs. You may notice that some of your personal favorites didn’t make either list. For example, one of my all-time favorite Prince songs is the Lovesexy title track, but it didn’t make the cut for either of these rounds (though it has a chance if both WC songs from that album make the top 25 in the first round). These two lists form a snapshot of what most people on the org think at this particular moment in Prince history; if this had been attempted 10 years before, or if it is attempted again at some point in the future, the lists might be quite different. However, we had to come up with a system that made sense to us, and no system is flawless. Since anyone can use the CIVS polling website for free, there’s nothing to stop any of you in the future from doing a new poll ranking a different set of songs using your own preferred method (and, in fact, Marco81 has already done this for the Montreux 2009 performances, which is great). I would just ask that everyone let Javi have the first crack at doing a comprehensive poll, since he’s put in a lot of effort for many months and accomplished something that proved too daunting for me.

I have started this thread to give people a chance to comment on and discuss our methodology. When the polls are open, anyone posing questions about why and how we’re ranking these songs will be directed to this thread, in the hope that we can keep the actual poll threads free of controversy (except for the song “Controversy,” which made the AQ list). Some of you may find this project to be entirely pointless; that’s cool with us, and you don’t have to participate or even pay attention to our polls (though if you’ve read this far in this post, I’m guessing you have some interest). Others of you may not care about the details but may just want to vote on the songs, and that’s great! You don’t need to understand how we came up with the two lists in order to rank the songs. I’ve enjoyed voting in the polls and I hope others have as well; at least some of them have attracted a lot of participants.

The lists of AQ and WC songs will follow. If you happen to notice that any songs that meet our criteria above were somehow omitted from one list or the other, please let us know so that we can correct the error(s) before polling begins. We plan to start the first round poll in a couple of weeks.

Thanks!

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #1 posted 11/21/11 6:06am

electricberet

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Automatic Qualifying (AQ) Songs (all to be included in final poll based on ranking in previous polls):

1999

17 Days

A Love Bizarre

All Day All Night

Alphabet St.

Anna Stesia

Another Lonely Christmas

Anotherloverholenyohead

Computer Blue

Controversy

Darling Nikki

Electric Intercourse

Empty Room

Erotic City

Extra Loveable

Feel U Up

Hello

How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore

I Wanna Be Your Lover

I Would Die 4 U

If I Was Your Girlfriend

In A Large Room With No Light

Irresistable Bitch

Kiss

La, La, La, He, He, Hee

Let's Go Crazy

Little Red Corvette

Love Thy Will Be Done

Mountains

Old Friends 4 Sale (Original Version)

Purple Rain

Raspberry Beret

She's Always In My Hair

Shockadelica

Sign 'O' The Times

The Beautiful Ones

Uptown

When Doves Cry

When You Were Mine

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #2 posted 11/21/11 6:07am

electricberet

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Wild Card (WC) Songs (to be ranked in first round: top 25 from this list, plus any additional songs that qualify under the rules above, will advance to final poll):

7

3121

4 The Tears In Your Eyes

5 Women

A Million Days

Adore

All My Dreams

Automatic

Baby I'm A Star

Bambi

Bob George

Chelsea Rodgers

Colonized Mind

Come

Cool

Crucial

Crystal Ball

D.M.S.R.

Dance 4 Me

Dirty Mind

Do Me, Baby

Don’t Play Me

Dream Factory

Electric Chair

Endorphinmachine

Eye Love U, But Eye Don't Trust U Anymore

Gett Off

Girl

Girls And Boys

Head

Housequake

I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man

I Like It There

I Wish U Heaven

Joy In Repetition

Lady Cab Driver

Last December

Laydown

Le Grind

Let's Work

North

Nothing Compares 2 U

Paisley Park

Pop Life

Power Fantastic

Rebirth of the Flesh

Scarlet Pussy

Sexy M.F.

Shhh

Soft And Wet

Somebody's Somebody

Sometimes It Snows In April

Sticky Like Glue

Strange Relationship

Take Me With U

The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker

The Dance Electric

The Holy River

The Love We Make

When 2 R In Love

When Eye Lay My Hands On U

Wonderful Ass


[Edited 11/21/11 6:45am]

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #3 posted 11/21/11 7:25am

Javi

I encourage people to discuss the methodology. I think this project is going to give very interesting results. We already have partial results (all the albums ranked, and also the A-Sides, the B-Sides, the outtakes and the associated artists songs, apart from the albums themselves). Now we're near the end, which will be a list of the best Prince songs as voted by his fans in prince.org. The project is outstanding and ambitious, and if many people participate, the final results will be more representative.

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Reply #4 posted 11/21/11 6:28pm

Elle85n09

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I've had a tiring day, so I'll reread the the methodology guidelines again soon. I know at the very least I'll have questions...as usual. lol

[Edited 11/22/11 13:49pm]

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Reply #5 posted 11/21/11 10:16pm

electricberet

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Elle85n09 said:

I've had a tiring day, so I'll reread the the methodology guidelines again soon. I know I'll at the very least I'll have questions...as usual. lol

Well, thanks for noticing the thread! Better to ask questions now, before we start the polls.

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #6 posted 11/22/11 5:42am

Javi

Elle85n09 said:

I've had a tiring day, so I'll reread the the methodology guidelines again soon. I know I'll at the very least I'll have questions...as usual. lol

As electricberet has said, we've tried to explain our methodology in depth so that people understand how the songs in the list have been selected. However, there'll probably be some people who will just vote and rank the songs without further worries, which will be fine too, but it was necessary that we made clear how we have arrived here.

Questions will be welcome! wink

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Reply #7 posted 11/24/11 6:02am

Javi

electricberet said:

Automatic Qualifying (AQ) Songs (all to be included in final poll based on ranking in previous polls):

1999

17 Days

A Love Bizarre

All Day All Night

Alphabet St.

Anna Stesia

Another Lonely Christmas

Anotherloverholenyohead

Computer Blue

Controversy

Darling Nikki

Electric Intercourse

Empty Room

Erotic City

Extra Loveable

Feel U Up

Hello

How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore

I Wanna Be Your Lover

I Would Die 4 U

If I Was Your Girlfriend

In A Large Room With No Light

Irresistable Bitch

Kiss

La, La, La, He, He, Hee

Let's Go Crazy

Little Red Corvette

Love Thy Will Be Done

Mountains

Old Friends 4 Sale (Original Version)

Purple Rain

Raspberry Beret

She's Always In My Hair

Shockadelica

Sign 'O' The Times

The Beautiful Ones

Uptown

When Doves Cry

When You Were Mine

Maybe we should add now "original version" to Extra Loveable too... lol

[Edited 11/24/11 6:03am]

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Reply #8 posted 11/24/11 5:33pm

electricberet

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Javi said:

electricberet said:

Automatic Qualifying (AQ) Songs (all to be included in final poll based on ranking in previous polls):

1999

17 Days

A Love Bizarre

All Day All Night

Alphabet St.

Anna Stesia

Another Lonely Christmas

Anotherloverholenyohead

Computer Blue

Controversy

Darling Nikki

Electric Intercourse

Empty Room

Erotic City

Extra Loveable

Feel U Up

Hello

How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore

I Wanna Be Your Lover

I Would Die 4 U

If I Was Your Girlfriend

In A Large Room With No Light

Irresistable Bitch

Kiss

La, La, La, He, He, Hee

Let's Go Crazy

Little Red Corvette

Love Thy Will Be Done

Mountains

Old Friends 4 Sale (Original Version)

Purple Rain

Raspberry Beret

She's Always In My Hair

Shockadelica

Sign 'O' The Times

The Beautiful Ones

Uptown

When Doves Cry

When You Were Mine

Maybe we should add now "original version" to Extra Loveable too... lol

[Edited 11/24/11 6:03am]

Yeah, I guess so. lol Also, does anyone want to nominate the 2011 version for the WC list?

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #9 posted 11/24/11 5:53pm

Optimus2


1. Adore

2. Erotic City

3. Feel For You

4. 17 Days

5. If I Was Your Girlfriend

6. Mountains

7. I Would Die 4 U

8. Kiss

9. Raspberry Beret

10. When Doves Cry

11. When You Were Mine

12. The Beautiful Ones

13. How Come You Dont....

14. Little Red Corvette

15. Another Lonely Christmas

16. Raspberry Beret

17. If I Was Your Girlfriend

How is God not on that list of yours ???......Or Gold!!!....Or P Control? confused

[Edited 11/24/11 17:54pm]

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Reply #10 posted 11/24/11 5:58pm

electricberet

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Optimus2 said:


1. Adore

2. Erotic City

3. Feel For You

4. 17 Days

5. If I Was Your Girlfriend

6. Mountains

7. I Would Die 4 U

8. Kiss

9. Raspberry Beret

10. When Doves Cry

11. When You Were Mine

12. The Beautiful Ones

13. How Come You Dont....

14. Little Red Corvette

15. Another Lonely Christmas

16. Raspberry Beret

17. If I Was Your Girlfriend

How is God not on that list of yours ???......Or Gold!!!....Or P Control? confused

[Edited 11/24/11 17:54pm]

"God" came in at #26 in our poll of B-sides, thus did not make the cut:

http://www.cs.cornell.edu...thm=runoff

"Gold" and "P Control" came in #5 and #6 in The Gold Experience album poll, thus did not make the cut:

http://www.cs.cornell.edu...thm=runoff

I was surprised myself that "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" came in at only #7 in that album poll and #35 in the singles poll, given that it was his last big hit. But the voters in these polls apparently didn't care for it as much as the fans who bought the single when it came out.

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #11 posted 11/24/11 6:01pm

Optimus2

electricberet said:

Optimus2 said:

1. Adore

2. Erotic City

3. Feel For You

4. 17 Days

5. If I Was Your Girlfriend

6. Mountains

7. I Would Die 4 U

8. Kiss

9. Raspberry Beret

10. When Doves Cry

11. When You Were Mine

12. The Beautiful Ones

13. How Come You Dont....

14. Little Red Corvette

15. Another Lonely Christmas

16. Raspberry Beret

17. If I Was Your Girlfriend

How is God not on that list of yours ???......Or Gold!!!....Or P Control? confused

[Edited 11/24/11 17:54pm]

"God" came in at #26 in our poll of B-sides, thus did not make the cut:

http://www.cs.cornell.edu...thm=runoff

"Gold" and "P Control" came in #5 and #6 in The Gold Experience album poll, thus did not make the cut:

http://www.cs.cornell.edu...thm=runoff

I was surprised myself that "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" came in at only #7 in that album poll and #35 in the singles poll, given that it was his last big hit. But the voters in these polls apparently didn't care for it as much as the fans who bought the single when it came out.

hmmm intresting kiddo smile

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Reply #12 posted 11/25/11 6:07am

Javi

electricberet said:

Javi said:

Maybe we should add now "original version" to Extra Loveable too... lol

[Edited 11/24/11 6:03am]

Yeah, I guess so. lol Also, does anyone want to nominate the 2011 version for the WC list?

I've been reading the thread about the song, and, influenced by all the negative comments, the first thing I thought when I read your post was "water closet" and not "wild card"... lol

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Reply #13 posted 11/25/11 9:02am

electricberet

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Javi said:

electricberet said:

Yeah, I guess so. lol Also, does anyone want to nominate the 2011 version for the WC list?

I've been reading the thread about the song, and, influenced by all the negative comments, the first thing I thought when I read your post was "water closet" and not "wild card"... lol

Hmmm... Maybe I should have thought more carefully about using "WC" as an abbreviation. lol

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #14 posted 12/11/11 1:25pm

electricberet

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Javi has concluded the first round poll, and the results are here:

http://www.cs.cornell.edu...thm=runoff

As explained above, the top 25 from the first round will be added to the list of AQ songs for the final round. In addition, we will add one song to the final round for each album that saw all of its songs make the top 25. These are the albums that met that standard:

Sign ‘O’ The Times (5 songs)

1999 (3 songs)

Parade (2 songs)

Dirty Mind (2 songs)

Around the World in a Day (2 songs)

Diamonds and Pearls (1 song)

Prince (1979) (1 song)

Graffiti Bridge (1 song)

Musicology (1 song)

Batman (1 song)

To take this into account, we will add the following additional songs to the final round:

Forever In My Life

Hot Thing

Play In The Sunshine

Starfish And Coffee

U Got The Look

The Cross

Let’s Pretend We’re Married

Something In The Water

International Lover

New Position

I Wonder U

Partyup

Gotta Broken Heart Again

Around The World In A Day

Condition Of The Heart

Cream

Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?

The Question Of U

Call My Name

The Future

The reason why there are six songs added from SOTT is that we did two polls on that album and the lists were slightly different; thus we're including the next 5 songs from both the original poll and the revote. In a second post I will list the songs to be ranked in the final round.

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Reply #15 posted 12/11/11 1:27pm

electricberet

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Here is the list of songs to be ranked in the final round:

1999
17 Days
A Love Bizarre
A Million Days
Adore
All Day All Night
Alphabet St.
Anna Stesia
Another Lonely Christmas
Anotherloverholenyohead
Around The World In A Day
Automatic
Bambi

Call My Name
Computer Blue
Condition Of The Heart
Controversy
Cream
Crystal Ball
D.M.S.R.
Darling Nikki
Dirty Mind
Do Me, Baby
Electric Chair
Electric Intercourse
Empty Room
Endorphinemachine
Erotic City
Extra Loveable
Feel U Up
Forever In My Life
Gett Off
Girls And Boys
Gotta Broken Heart Again
Head
Hello
Hot Thing
Housequake
How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
I Wanna Be Your Lover
I Wonder U
I Would Die 4 U
If I Was Your Girlfriend
In A Large Room With No Light
International Lover
Irresistable Bitch
Joy In Repetition
Kiss
La, La, La, He, He, Hee
Lady Cab Driver
Let's Go Crazy
Let’s Pretend We’re Married
Little Red Corvette
Love Thy Will Be Done
Mountains
New Position
Old Friends 4 Sale (Original Version)
Paisley Park
Partyup
Play In The Sunshine
Pop Life
Power Fantastic
Purple Rain
Raspberry Beret
She's Always In My Hair
Shockadelica
Sign 'O' The Times
Something In The Water
Sometimes It Snows In April
Starfish And Coffee
Strange Relationship
The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
The Beautiful Ones
The Cross

The Future
The Love We Make

The Question of U
U Got The Look
Uptown
When Doves Cry
When You Were Mine
Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?
Wonderful Ass

That's a total of 84 songs, a lot of songs to rank, but most of us will be familiar with all or almost all of the songs in the list. Javi will start the final round of polling in a couple of days.


[Edited 12/11/11 13:38pm]

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #16 posted 12/11/11 4:09pm

Adorecream

electricberet said:

This thread explains the methodology for an upcoming Condorcet polling series that will rank Prince’s best songs, with the entries chosen based on the results of 39 individual polls conducted over the past six months. I am addressing this post to those who have participated in the earlier polls, or who would like to participate in the final rounds, and who want to understand or discuss the details of what we will be doing. If that’s not you, stop reading now and turn back before it’s too late—I’m sure there are other threads on the org that might be more fun. There is no need to understand all this in order to vote in the polls, but I’m posting the information here for any who may be curious.

With that warning out of the way, let me summarize how we got here for those who haven’t followed the Condorcet polls from the beginning. Earlier this year, I had the idea of starting a series of polls to rank all of Prince’s songs in a systematic way. There is a huge reservoir of knowledge on the org about Prince’s music, but the usual “favorite song” or “best song” threads that pop up regularly on here can’t lead to a meaningful ranking because there is no sophisticated mechanism to vote on the choices. I thought it might be interesting to use the free Condorcet Internet Voting Service (run by Cornell University) so that orgers could rank the songs on each Prince album as well as the various non-album tracks. Although I had to abandon the project after a few polls, fellow orger Javi courageously stepped in and has nearly completed the project. We have now conducted separate polls covering all of Prince’s official albums, the A-sides and B-sides of Prince’s U.S. singles, and other miscellaneous songs nominated by orgers. For a full list of the previous Condorcet poll threads with links, click here and scroll down:

http://prince.org/msg/7/370794

Now that the individual polls have been completed, we need to combine the results and hold final polling rounds to determine the best Prince songs overall in the opinion of the org. Javi and I have given considerable thought (perhaps too much thought) to the best way of accomplishing this. My stated goal at the outset was to determine the overall top 25 Prince songs. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, that number must have occurred to me subconsciously due to the way American college football teams are ranked: a topic which, I readily admit, has no significance for Prince’s music, although “Purple and Gold” shows that American football is not outside his field of interest. However, any other numerical cutoff would be equally arbitrary, and the system we’ve devised will result in a lot more than 25 songs being ranked in the final round, although the concept of the top 25 will play a role in our scheme (more on that below). We took our inspiration for the final rounds partly from a system that was helpfully proposed by orger UltraLash in the thread following the Crystal Ball poll, although we made some modifications to that proposal to better take into account all the data we now have.

One problem with ranking songs by such a prolific artist is that even a list of the best of the best will be very long, and we want to encourage people to vote by keeping the lists as short as reasonably possible. Ultimately, we decided that the final polling should occur in two rounds, and that the songs should be divided into two categories. The first category of songs are what we refer to as “automatically qualifying” (AQ) songs: songs that did so well in the individual polls that they will automatically make it to the final round without any intermediate vote. The second category of songs are “wild card” (WC) songs that did not do well enough to qualify as AQ songs, or could not be classified as they appeared on albums with no singles, but also performed well in the individual polls. The first round of polling would rank the WC songs, then the top 25 from that round would be matched up against the AQ songs in the final round. In addition, if all of the WC songs included in the first round from a particular album or poll make it to the top 25, one additional song from that album or poll will advance to the final round for every song that made the top 25 in the first round. This will result in two lists of songs that are fairly long, but (we think) not unreasonably so.

We decided to use the poll of A-sides from U.S. singles as a reference to determine the cutoff for the AQ list. Prince and his management were likely to choose what they considered his best songs to be released as A-sides on singles in his home market. While Prince’s fans haven’t always agreed with those decisions, the A-sides that are in fact popular on the org must be among his very best songs. Therefore, any song that did well in our A-side poll, or any album track, B-side, or unreleased song that ranked higher than such a song in one of the other polls, should automatically be included in our final round. Anticipating this, we included certain reference A-sides in the non-album song polls. To decide the cutoff for which songs should make it to the AQ round, we eventually settled on “Alphabet St.,” which ranked #13 in the A-sides poll and was used as a reference track in the miscellaneous song polls. Any song that beat or tied “Alphabet St.” in any of the polls is an AQ song, and any song that beat or tied a song that beat “Alphabet St.” in any of the polls is also an AQ song. We chose “Alphabet St.” not because we are particularly fond of that song (though it is catchy enough), but because using a higher-ranked song would have resulted in an AQ list that we considered too short, and using a lower-ranked song would give us an AQ list that was too long. Using “Alphabet St.” as the reference, we ended up with a list of 39 AQ songs, which we considered to be about right for the purpose of determining the top 25 overall Prince songs.

The next question was how to decide which songs would be ranked in the first round as WC songs. For the individual album polls, we decided to take into account two factors: (1) how well each album did in the initial poll that ranked the albums, and (2) how many discs made up the CD version of the album. Ultimately, we have assigned 2 songs per disc to the top 11 albums, and 1 song per disc for the remaining albums. The top 11 from the album poll is significant both because it includes The Black Album, which is unusual in being a high-ranking album that produced no singles, and because it is a stable group no matter which Condorcet completion rule you select (this is a technical point that I could discuss further if anyone is interested). We also felt that it was appropriate to award more WC songs to SOTT in the first group and Crystal Ball and Emancipation in the second, since those albums contained much more music relative to the other albums in their respective groups. We are aware that other albums were double albums on LP even though they are single CDs, but the difference is not meaningful for albums that were designed for the CD format, and 1999, the only double album from the pre-digital era that was released as a single CD, happened to produce three WC songs due to a tie between “D.M.S.R.” and “Lady Cab Driver.” In all cases where there was a tie for a qualifying spot, we included the songs that tied, and we took the top 4 non-AQ songs from both SOTT polls, since we had to have a revote after the first SOTT poll was terminated prematurely, which means that there are actually 5 WC songs from SOTT. To round off the list of WC songs, we chose the top 5 non-AQ songs from the B-sides poll and from the final round of the miscellaneous songs poll.

Since it is possible that some albums have more excellent songs than their ranking in the overall album poll would suggest, we have also stipulated that if every song included from a particular album (or from the poll of B-sides or the final round poll of miscellaneous songs) makes the top 25 in the first round, we will include one additional song from that album or poll for each song that made the top 25 in the first round. To suggest a hypothetical example, if the top two tracks from The Black Album end up making the overall top 25 in the first round, we’ll include two more songs from The Black Album in the final round (specifically, “Rockhard In A Funky Place” and “Superfunkycalifragisexy,” the songs that ranked third and fourth in that poll respectively), in addition to the two that ranked in the top 25 of the first round. On the other hand, in the event that the one entry from Rave makes the top 25, we’ll include one more song from Rave (the title track, which came in at #2 in the Rave poll) in the final round, plus the song that made the top 25 in the first round. However, if one of the tracks from The Black Album makes the top 25 in the first round and the other doesn’t, only the track that made the top 25 will advance to the final round and no additional songs from that album will be included. And if the top-ranked song from Rave fails to make the top 25 in the first round, no additional songs from Rave will be added to the final round. The same goes for all the album polls, along with the B-sides poll and the final round poll of miscellaneous songs. Given the number and variety of songs that made the WC list, we don’t expect many additional songs to make the final poll through this rule, but we won’t find out until the first round is conducted.

We know that our methodology is not perfect. In two subsequent posts, I will list the songs that we’ve determined to be AQ and WC songs. You may notice that some of your personal favorites didn’t make either list. For example, one of my all-time favorite Prince songs is the Lovesexy title track, but it didn’t make the cut for either of these rounds (though it has a chance if both WC songs from that album make the top 25 in the first round). These two lists form a snapshot of what most people on the org think at this particular moment in Prince history; if this had been attempted 10 years before, or if it is attempted again at some point in the future, the lists might be quite different. However, we had to come up with a system that made sense to us, and no system is flawless. Since anyone can use the CIVS polling website for free, there’s nothing to stop any of you in the future from doing a new poll ranking a different set of songs using your own preferred method (and, in fact, Marco81 has already done this for the Montreux 2009 performances, which is great). I would just ask that everyone let Javi have the first crack at doing a comprehensive poll, since he’s put in a lot of effort for many months and accomplished something that proved too daunting for me.

I have started this thread to give people a chance to comment on and discuss our methodology. When the polls are open, anyone posing questions about why and how we’re ranking these songs will be directed to this thread, in the hope that we can keep the actual poll threads free of controversy (except for the song “Controversy,” which made the AQ list). Some of you may find this project to be entirely pointless; that’s cool with us, and you don’t have to participate or even pay attention to our polls (though if you’ve read this far in this post, I’m guessing you have some interest). Others of you may not care about the details but may just want to vote on the songs, and that’s great! You don’t need to understand how we came up with the two lists in order to rank the songs. I’ve enjoyed voting in the polls and I hope others have as well; at least some of them have attracted a lot of participants.

The lists of AQ and WC songs will follow. If you happen to notice that any songs that meet our criteria above were somehow omitted from one list or the other, please let us know so that we can correct the error(s) before polling begins. We plan to start the first round poll in a couple of weeks.

Thanks!

Wow I love your idea, but that paragraph was so long and lugubrious, I with 4 degrees, could not concentrate long enough to read it. My eyes just kept glazing over no matter how hard I tried to focus ad concentrate. You seriously need to paraphrase this summary somewhat, as I am interested, but honestly, next time I have insomnia I am going to read this again.

Got some kind of love for you, and I don't even know your name
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Reply #17 posted 12/12/11 8:17am

Javi

Adorecream said:

electricberet said:

This thread explains the methodology for an upcoming Condorcet polling series that will rank Prince’s best songs, with the entries chosen based on the results of 39 individual polls conducted over the past six months. I am addressing this post to those who have participated in the earlier polls, or who would like to participate in the final rounds, and who want to understand or discuss the details of what we will be doing. If that’s not you, stop reading now and turn back before it’s too late—I’m sure there are other threads on the org that might be more fun. There is no need to understand all this in order to vote in the polls, but I’m posting the information here for any who may be curious.

With that warning out of the way, let me summarize how we got here for those who haven’t followed the Condorcet polls from the beginning. Earlier this year, I had the idea of starting a series of polls to rank all of Prince’s songs in a systematic way. There is a huge reservoir of knowledge on the org about Prince’s music, but the usual “favorite song” or “best song” threads that pop up regularly on here can’t lead to a meaningful ranking because there is no sophisticated mechanism to vote on the choices. I thought it might be interesting to use the free Condorcet Internet Voting Service (run by Cornell University) so that orgers could rank the songs on each Prince album as well as the various non-album tracks. Although I had to abandon the project after a few polls, fellow orger Javi courageously stepped in and has nearly completed the project. We have now conducted separate polls covering all of Prince’s official albums, the A-sides and B-sides of Prince’s U.S. singles, and other miscellaneous songs nominated by orgers. For a full list of the previous Condorcet poll threads with links, click here and scroll down:

http://prince.org/msg/7/370794

Now that the individual polls have been completed, we need to combine the results and hold final polling rounds to determine the best Prince songs overall in the opinion of the org. Javi and I have given considerable thought (perhaps too much thought) to the best way of accomplishing this. My stated goal at the outset was to determine the overall top 25 Prince songs. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, that number must have occurred to me subconsciously due to the way American college football teams are ranked: a topic which, I readily admit, has no significance for Prince’s music, although “Purple and Gold” shows that American football is not outside his field of interest. However, any other numerical cutoff would be equally arbitrary, and the system we’ve devised will result in a lot more than 25 songs being ranked in the final round, although the concept of the top 25 will play a role in our scheme (more on that below). We took our inspiration for the final rounds partly from a system that was helpfully proposed by orger UltraLash in the thread following the Crystal Ball poll, although we made some modifications to that proposal to better take into account all the data we now have.

One problem with ranking songs by such a prolific artist is that even a list of the best of the best will be very long, and we want to encourage people to vote by keeping the lists as short as reasonably possible. Ultimately, we decided that the final polling should occur in two rounds, and that the songs should be divided into two categories. The first category of songs are what we refer to as “automatically qualifying” (AQ) songs: songs that did so well in the individual polls that they will automatically make it to the final round without any intermediate vote. The second category of songs are “wild card” (WC) songs that did not do well enough to qualify as AQ songs, or could not be classified as they appeared on albums with no singles, but also performed well in the individual polls. The first round of polling would rank the WC songs, then the top 25 from that round would be matched up against the AQ songs in the final round. In addition, if all of the WC songs included in the first round from a particular album or poll make it to the top 25, one additional song from that album or poll will advance to the final round for every song that made the top 25 in the first round. This will result in two lists of songs that are fairly long, but (we think) not unreasonably so.

We decided to use the poll of A-sides from U.S. singles as a reference to determine the cutoff for the AQ list. Prince and his management were likely to choose what they considered his best songs to be released as A-sides on singles in his home market. While Prince’s fans haven’t always agreed with those decisions, the A-sides that are in fact popular on the org must be among his very best songs. Therefore, any song that did well in our A-side poll, or any album track, B-side, or unreleased song that ranked higher than such a song in one of the other polls, should automatically be included in our final round. Anticipating this, we included certain reference A-sides in the non-album song polls. To decide the cutoff for which songs should make it to the AQ round, we eventually settled on “Alphabet St.,” which ranked #13 in the A-sides poll and was used as a reference track in the miscellaneous song polls. Any song that beat or tied “Alphabet St.” in any of the polls is an AQ song, and any song that beat or tied a song that beat “Alphabet St.” in any of the polls is also an AQ song. We chose “Alphabet St.” not because we are particularly fond of that song (though it is catchy enough), but because using a higher-ranked song would have resulted in an AQ list that we considered too short, and using a lower-ranked song would give us an AQ list that was too long. Using “Alphabet St.” as the reference, we ended up with a list of 39 AQ songs, which we considered to be about right for the purpose of determining the top 25 overall Prince songs.

The next question was how to decide which songs would be ranked in the first round as WC songs. For the individual album polls, we decided to take into account two factors: (1) how well each album did in the initial poll that ranked the albums, and (2) how many discs made up the CD version of the album. Ultimately, we have assigned 2 songs per disc to the top 11 albums, and 1 song per disc for the remaining albums. The top 11 from the album poll is significant both because it includes The Black Album, which is unusual in being a high-ranking album that produced no singles, and because it is a stable group no matter which Condorcet completion rule you select (this is a technical point that I could discuss further if anyone is interested). We also felt that it was appropriate to award more WC songs to SOTT in the first group and Crystal Ball and Emancipation in the second, since those albums contained much more music relative to the other albums in their respective groups. We are aware that other albums were double albums on LP even though they are single CDs, but the difference is not meaningful for albums that were designed for the CD format, and 1999, the only double album from the pre-digital era that was released as a single CD, happened to produce three WC songs due to a tie between “D.M.S.R.” and “Lady Cab Driver.” In all cases where there was a tie for a qualifying spot, we included the songs that tied, and we took the top 4 non-AQ songs from both SOTT polls, since we had to have a revote after the first SOTT poll was terminated prematurely, which means that there are actually 5 WC songs from SOTT. To round off the list of WC songs, we chose the top 5 non-AQ songs from the B-sides poll and from the final round of the miscellaneous songs poll.

Since it is possible that some albums have more excellent songs than their ranking in the overall album poll would suggest, we have also stipulated that if every song included from a particular album (or from the poll of B-sides or the final round poll of miscellaneous songs) makes the top 25 in the first round, we will include one additional song from that album or poll for each song that made the top 25 in the first round. To suggest a hypothetical example, if the top two tracks from The Black Album end up making the overall top 25 in the first round, we’ll include two more songs from The Black Album in the final round (specifically, “Rockhard In A Funky Place” and “Superfunkycalifragisexy,” the songs that ranked third and fourth in that poll respectively), in addition to the two that ranked in the top 25 of the first round. On the other hand, in the event that the one entry from Rave makes the top 25, we’ll include one more song from Rave (the title track, which came in at #2 in the Rave poll) in the final round, plus the song that made the top 25 in the first round. However, if one of the tracks from The Black Album makes the top 25 in the first round and the other doesn’t, only the track that made the top 25 will advance to the final round and no additional songs from that album will be included. And if the top-ranked song from Rave fails to make the top 25 in the first round, no additional songs from Rave will be added to the final round. The same goes for all the album polls, along with the B-sides poll and the final round poll of miscellaneous songs. Given the number and variety of songs that made the WC list, we don’t expect many additional songs to make the final poll through this rule, but we won’t find out until the first round is conducted.

We know that our methodology is not perfect. In two subsequent posts, I will list the songs that we’ve determined to be AQ and WC songs. You may notice that some of your personal favorites didn’t make either list. For example, one of my all-time favorite Prince songs is the Lovesexy title track, but it didn’t make the cut for either of these rounds (though it has a chance if both WC songs from that album make the top 25 in the first round). These two lists form a snapshot of what most people on the org think at this particular moment in Prince history; if this had been attempted 10 years before, or if it is attempted again at some point in the future, the lists might be quite different. However, we had to come up with a system that made sense to us, and no system is flawless. Since anyone can use the CIVS polling website for free, there’s nothing to stop any of you in the future from doing a new poll ranking a different set of songs using your own preferred method (and, in fact, Marco81 has already done this for the Montreux 2009 performances, which is great). I would just ask that everyone let Javi have the first crack at doing a comprehensive poll, since he’s put in a lot of effort for many months and accomplished something that proved too daunting for me.

I have started this thread to give people a chance to comment on and discuss our methodology. When the polls are open, anyone posing questions about why and how we’re ranking these songs will be directed to this thread, in the hope that we can keep the actual poll threads free of controversy (except for the song “Controversy,” which made the AQ list). Some of you may find this project to be entirely pointless; that’s cool with us, and you don’t have to participate or even pay attention to our polls (though if you’ve read this far in this post, I’m guessing you have some interest). Others of you may not care about the details but may just want to vote on the songs, and that’s great! You don’t need to understand how we came up with the two lists in order to rank the songs. I’ve enjoyed voting in the polls and I hope others have as well; at least some of them have attracted a lot of participants.

The lists of AQ and WC songs will follow. If you happen to notice that any songs that meet our criteria above were somehow omitted from one list or the other, please let us know so that we can correct the error(s) before polling begins. We plan to start the first round poll in a couple of weeks.

Thanks!

Wow I love your idea, but that paragraph was so long and lugubrious, I with 4 degrees, could not concentrate long enough to read it. My eyes just kept glazing over no matter how hard I tried to focus ad concentrate. You seriously need to paraphrase this summary somewhat, as I am interested, but honestly, next time I have insomnia I am going to read this again.

The series of polls conceived by electricberet is difficult to equal in seriousness and attention to detail, which is one of the things that I found attractive in it (apart from the fact that I love lists and polls! wink ). This is not what you usually find in the internet. It's a much thought over project and, in my opinion, the individual polls we have already made and the final poll we'll carry out this week, which will result in a list of the best Prince songs, constitute a very rich resource, actually one of the richest (if not THE richest) I've seen in the org since I'm a member.

So, reading this explanation may be difficult or not, but the fact is that we Prince fans should appreciate the thorough and meticulous work invested in this project by electricberet.

And it has been great fun!

Anyway, you have been following the polls, so you probably knew what the whole thing was about before this thread was created. wink

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Reply #18 posted 12/12/11 9:07am

SanDiegoFunkDa
ddy

I still think the 14 minute Computer Blue is the best song he ever recorded. It captured a rare time where his creativity blossomed and he was free to record whatever he wanted because of the success of 1999.

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Reply #19 posted 12/12/11 10:09am

electricberet

avatar

I should point out one thing: the new version of Extra Loveable (or is it Extraloveable) came out after we had done the polls for which the new song might have qualified. So the version of Extra Loveable that qualified for the final list is the old unreleased version. However, most of the songs in the final poll have been rearranged by Prince at one time or another for live performances that are available on bootleg. So I think the best approach in voting is to vote for the song based on the version you like the best. The only song where we specified a particular version is "Old Friends 4 Sale," and that is because both versions of that song were ranked in separate polls, and the original version qualified but the revamped version on The Vault did not.

I know our methodology isn't perfect, but it has produced a pretty damn good list of songs however you look at it. I'm looking forward to seeing which ones make the top of the list. I hope everyone who's interested will take the time to vote in the final poll, as this sort of thing may not be attempted again for a long time.

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #20 posted 12/12/11 10:14am

electricberet

avatar

SanDiegoFunkDaddy said:

I still think the 14 minute Computer Blue is the best song he ever recorded. It captured a rare time where his creativity blossomed and he was free to record whatever he wanted because of the success of 1999.

Actually, we ranked the official version of "Computer Blue" and the longer unreleased versions in separate polls, and both qualified for our final poll. However, we decided to list the song only once in the final poll, because there are many other songs that exist in multiple versions of different lengths ("Gett Off" is a particularly obvious example), and we didn't rank all of those separately. After our poll is done, someone else could start a poll to rank all the different versions of "Computer Blue" or any other song. For this poll, just vote based on how much you like your favorite version.

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #21 posted 12/14/11 5:38pm

Adorecream

Javi said:

Adorecream said:

Wow I love your idea, but that paragraph was so long and lugubrious, I with 4 degrees, could not concentrate long enough to read it. My eyes just kept glazing over no matter how hard I tried to focus ad concentrate. You seriously need to paraphrase this summary somewhat, as I am interested, but honestly, next time I have insomnia I am going to read this again.

The series of polls conceived by electricberet is difficult to equal in seriousness and attention to detail, which is one of the things that I found attractive in it (apart from the fact that I love lists and polls! wink ). This is not what you usually find in the internet. It's a much thought over project and, in my opinion, the individual polls we have already made and the final poll we'll carry out this week, which will result in a list of the best Prince songs, constitute a very rich resource, actually one of the richest (if not THE richest) I've seen in the org since I'm a member.

So, reading this explanation may be difficult or not, but the fact is that we Prince fans should appreciate the thorough and meticulous work invested in this project by electricberet.

And it has been great fun!

Anyway, you have been following the polls, so you probably knew what the whole thing was about before this thread was created. wink

Sorry, u are right its very fascinating and properly done. And I know its hard, as Prince has released so many great songs and albums, theres always going to be the fact we are all realy spoiled for choice

Got some kind of love for you, and I don't even know your name
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Reply #22 posted 12/14/11 5:59pm

electricberet

avatar

Adorecream said:

Javi said:

The series of polls conceived by electricberet is difficult to equal in seriousness and attention to detail, which is one of the things that I found attractive in it (apart from the fact that I love lists and polls! wink ). This is not what you usually find in the internet. It's a much thought over project and, in my opinion, the individual polls we have already made and the final poll we'll carry out this week, which will result in a list of the best Prince songs, constitute a very rich resource, actually one of the richest (if not THE richest) I've seen in the org since I'm a member.

So, reading this explanation may be difficult or not, but the fact is that we Prince fans should appreciate the thorough and meticulous work invested in this project by electricberet.

And it has been great fun!

Anyway, you have been following the polls, so you probably knew what the whole thing was about before this thread was created. wink

Sorry, u are right its very fascinating and properly done. And I know its hard, as Prince has released so many great songs and albums, theres always going to be the fact we are all realy spoiled for choice

Thanks! Javi has opened the final polling round:

http://prince.org/msg/7/372586

I hope that everyone who's voted in one of the earlier polls will take the time to vote in this one. There are a lot of songs to rank, but you'll know them all (or almost all) by heart.

The Census Bureau estimates that there are 2,518 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently living in the city of Long Beach.
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Reply #23 posted 12/15/11 5:58am

Javi

Adorecream said:

Javi said:

The series of polls conceived by electricberet is difficult to equal in seriousness and attention to detail, which is one of the things that I found attractive in it (apart from the fact that I love lists and polls! wink ). This is not what you usually find in the internet. It's a much thought over project and, in my opinion, the individual polls we have already made and the final poll we'll carry out this week, which will result in a list of the best Prince songs, constitute a very rich resource, actually one of the richest (if not THE richest) I've seen in the org since I'm a member.

So, reading this explanation may be difficult or not, but the fact is that we Prince fans should appreciate the thorough and meticulous work invested in this project by electricberet.

And it has been great fun!

Anyway, you have been following the polls, so you probably knew what the whole thing was about before this thread was created. wink

Sorry, u are right its very fascinating and properly done. And I know its hard, as Prince has released so many great songs and albums, theres always going to be the fact we are all realy spoiled for choice

No problem! I just meant that a project like this is difficult to conceive and carry out, and that it is far more valuable if it's made thoroughly.

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