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Thread started 01/27/21 1:09am

MattyJam

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Prince's inability to have a hit after 1995

This has always baffled me. Contrary to what some people say, I actually think he was still writing music which had huge chart potential. Songs like Wherever U Go Whatever U Do, Somebody's Somebody and Dance 4 Me could've been massive. And I don't buy that Prince didn't care about having a hit, when some of his music from 96-16 was very obviously tailor made to fit in with the contemporary music scene of the time.

I don't buy that it's an age issue, because it didn't stop his 80s contemporaries. So what was it that stopped him from having another hit when MJ and Janet still managed a few in the 00s and Madonna continued to achieve an abudance of chart hits until the radios stopped playing her a few years back.
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Reply #1 posted 01/27/21 1:26am

LoveGalore

Like before 1995, Prince's success depended on how invested he was in a project. Unfortunately, he never was. Couple that with spotty marketing for any album and his music really just being out of touch.

The songs you list are cool but not at all of their times.
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Reply #2 posted 01/27/21 1:35am

WhisperingDand
elions

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LoveGalore said:

Like before 1995, Prince's success depended on how invested he was in a project. Unfortunately, he never was. Couple that with spotty marketing for any album and his music really just being out of touch. The songs you list are cool but not at all of their times.

"Somebody's Somebody" is very 1996.

.

But for the most part, yes, Prince fans tend to bust out the "coulda been a hit" card with stuff that is merely catchy, not catchy and relevant for the year it was released (of which usually the same fans have disdain for all other relevant for the year styles/artists, soo....).

.

Anyway not having major label payola backing behind releases it is probably quite relevant.

[Edited 1/27/21 1:36am]

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Reply #3 posted 01/27/21 1:56am

leecaldon

He had major label backing on various one-off deals (although promotion was botched on the likes Emancipation and Rave). Do we think that hits would have continued if he had stayed with WB?

Most established artists eventually end up in a place where they no longer have hit singles (but still hit high in the charts with albums, like Prince) - Prince seemed to move away from hits a little earlier than some of his contemporaries (partly explained by the period of being predominantly 'indie' in 97-03).

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Reply #4 posted 01/27/21 2:24am

zobilamouche

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A couple of things that pop to mind...

After 95, and even earlier on, Prince was no longer shaping the music of an era but trying to mix contemporary sounds with his own style, which often resulted in something that wasn't here nor there. He was still unchallenged as a performer and musician, but not so as a writer. Statements in songs like "I AM the touch" actually proved that point more than it dismissed it.



Maybe he compromised more than he thought... and should have.



If you go through intverviews with people he worked with, and look at the path of many of the most cherished songs; most of them were a work in progress for years. Much of the material people love from the 80s originated years befor they actually were released.
Don't remember exactly who said it but someone from the Revolution stated that the pace of making Purple Rain the movie, from concept, acting classes, re-writes to filming, forced him to work longer on the music.



So, though he can write a hit at the drop of a dime, I have the impression that the quality of his later work would have benefitted from some time to grow. And as others stated; he should have stayed involved with his releases, even when they don't turn out to be a hit. If an artist seems to stop caring about his new music, how do you expect the general public to do so?


His preoccupation with the business side and the clash with Warners took the focus away of the music.



That was followed by his religion shaping his music with varying success but also with nonsense like the Taurus/Stake statements. The whole smokescreen around the death of hs child was weird and unhealthy.

He continued trying to be a pop star while he was coming to an age where he could have evolved into more persona themed music. Singing Lolita at his age is just odd and seems out of touch with reality. Maybe "Reflections" was a bit cheesy, but it was also gorgeous and relatable as well. It was one of the few songs that felt honest and linked to who he was as a person.

Certainly withe 3rdeyegirl and HNR1 (the Josh massacre), he seemed less motivated to make music for himself and more about coaching new talent and giving them a platform. Which is a great thing to do, but for me those two albums are uninteresting on every level.

[Edited 1/27/21 2:34am]

The HQ-er formerly known as krokostimpy.
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Reply #5 posted 01/27/21 3:25am

Blondies1973

zobilamouche said:

A couple of things that pop to mind...



After 95, and even earlier on, Prince was no longer shaping the music of an era but trying to mix contemporary sounds with his own style, which often resulted in something that wasn't here nor there. He was still unchallenged as a performer and musician, but not so as a writer. Statements in songs like "I AM the touch" actually proved that point more than it dismissed it.





Maybe he compromised more than he thought... and should have.





If you go through intverviews with people he worked with, and look at the path of many of the most cherished songs; most of them were a work in progress for years. Much of the material people love from the 80s originated years befor they actually were released.
Don't remember exactly who said it but someone from the Revolution stated that the pace of making Purple Rain the movie, from concept, acting classes, re-writes to filming, forced him to work longer on the music.





So, though he can write a hit at the drop of a dime, I have the impression that the quality of his later work would have benefitted from some time to grow. And as others stated; he should have stayed involved with his releases, even when they don't turn out to be a hit. If an artist seems to stop caring about his new music, how do you expect the general public to do so?



His preoccupation with the business side and the clash with Warners took the focus away of the music.





That was followed by his religion shaping his music with varying success but also with nonsense like the Taurus/Stake statements. The whole smokescreen around the death of hs child was weird and unhealthy.



He continued trying to be a pop star while he was coming to an age where he could have evolved into more persona themed music. Singing Lolita at his age is just odd and seems out of touch with reality. Maybe "Reflections" was a bit cheesy, but it was also gorgeous and relatable as well. It was one of the few songs that felt honest and linked to who he was as a person.



Certainly withe 3rdeyegirl and HNR1 (the Josh massacre), he seemed less motivated to make music for himself and more about coaching new talent and giving them a platform. Which is a great thing to do, but for me those two albums are uninteresting on every level.



[Edited 1/27/21 2:34am]



I agree with this.

Musicology and Black Sweat are the two songs that stand out for the period. They ought to have had a greater impact.
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Reply #6 posted 01/27/21 3:28am

RJOrion

a "hit" isnt made by the artist alone...a "hit" record is a collaborative coordinated effort by artist, label, management, distribution, and media... Prince spent alot of years distancing himself from that process, and in turn burning those historical industry bridges...he paid dearly for it ... you cant draw SLAVE on your face and publicly bash the industry that has invested MILLIONS of dollars in you, and made you one of their poster boys and Golden Child...he bit the hand that fed him... that never works...thats why the hits stopped coming...it had little to do with the actual music...LOL at thinking good music alone will get you a "hit record"... you have to play the game...and its a VERY dirty game
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Reply #7 posted 01/27/21 4:16am

jaawwnn

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Agree with RJOrion.

Madonna played the game, signed 360 deals and was a good employee for her record label. They made money off her.

Prince continue to release constantly, demanded money upfront that would never be recouped unless his albums sold in their millions and when he did occasionally try to play the game he repeatedly threw his toys out of the pram six months later. He was never going to make a record company money.

Not saying playing the game suited Prince, god knows if he had forced himself to grin and bear it he might have passed a lot earlier, but these are the prices you pay for independence.

[Edited 1/27/21 4:19am]

"I think people ought to know that we're anti-fascist, we're anti-violence, we're anti-racist and we're pro-creative. We're against ignorance."
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Reply #8 posted 01/27/21 4:22am

zobilamouche

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jaawwnn said:

Agree with RJOrion.

Madonna played the game, signed 365 deals and was a good employee for her record label. They made money off her.

Prince continue to release constantly, demanded money upfront that would never be recouped unless his albums sold in their millions and when he did occasionally try to play the game he repeatedly threw his toys out of the pram six months later. He was never going to make a record company money.

I am surprised Musicology wasn't a hit based on the airtime he was getting though. Same with Black Sweat although i'd put that down the the aforementioned tantrums, he could have put the effort in to promote it.


I don't entirely agree though Prince clearly put himself in a bad spot. But Madonna and Prince are clearly different types of artists. Madonna is a pop chameleon that survives (survived?) by latching onto the sound of the moment, pulls in the right producers, uses every hip gimmick and by doing that places herself in the middle of the commercial pop circuit.

Prince wanted the hits but as a musician and more of an artistic soul, would never completely surrender to the flavour of the month. Although, that's why for me HRN1 was a dissapointment. By giving the producer chair to Josh it was a gimmicky production of Prince songs. It was his voice but hardly felt like his music.

[Edited 1/27/21 4:24am]

The HQ-er formerly known as krokostimpy.
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Reply #9 posted 01/27/21 5:10am

Phase3

Now days having a hit is not about having a great song,it is about the record company backing it then forcing radio to play it.
Just look at the top songs and artists now days.
Justin bieber,ariana granda...most of their music is terrible.
I believe if prince had stayed with Warner Bros he would have had many hit songs because they would promoted it better.Atleast he did win a award for "song of the heart".That their proved he could still write hits
[Edited 1/27/21 5:10am]
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Reply #10 posted 01/27/21 6:18am

Genesia

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RJOrion said:

a "hit" isnt made by the artist alone...a "hit" record is a collaborative coordinated effort by artist, label, management, distribution, and media... Prince spent alot of years distancing himself from that process, and in turn burning those historical industry bridges...he paid dearly for it ... you cant draw SLAVE on your face and publicly bash the industry that has invested MILLIONS of dollars in you, and made you one of their poster boys and Golden Child...he bit the hand that fed him... that never works...thats why the hits stopped coming...it had little to do with the actual music...LOL at thinking good music alone will get you a "hit record"... you have to play the game...and its a VERY dirty game


This.

We don’t mourn artists because we knew them. We mourn them because they helped us know ourselves.
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Reply #11 posted 01/27/21 6:28am

emesem

In the late 90s Prince was a 40/50 year old man who couldnt decide whether he wanted to appeal to teens and 20 year olds or people his own age.

He'd go from writing something like "Dont Play Me" but then at the same time try to incorporate already stale rap (Doug E Fresh???), tried to grab a bit of the Neo Soul thing for minute but then was dragging Larry Graham and Chaka Khan around like a 50's revival show.

It wasnt until 2001 with TRC and more so with Musicology it just felt like his attemps at "hits" were just going through the motions and he really didnt care anymore (which was IMHO a good thing). I actually found his "old man at da club" schtick kinda fun.

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Reply #12 posted 01/27/21 6:31am

Musze

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Dance 4 Me was SUCH a missed opportunity in that regard.

I Love U, But I Don't Trust U Anymore...
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Reply #13 posted 01/27/21 7:39am

Poplife88

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Genesia said:

RJOrion said:

a "hit" isnt made by the artist alone...a "hit" record is a collaborative coordinated effort by artist, label, management, distribution, and media... Prince spent alot of years distancing himself from that process, and in turn burning those historical industry bridges...he paid dearly for it ... you cant draw SLAVE on your face and publicly bash the industry that has invested MILLIONS of dollars in you, and made you one of their poster boys and Golden Child...he bit the hand that fed him... that never works...thats why the hits stopped coming...it had little to do with the actual music...LOL at thinking good music alone will get you a "hit record"... you have to play the game...and its a VERY dirty game


This.

Yep, this sums it up right here.

We're gonna need a bigger boat
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Reply #14 posted 01/27/21 8:35am

funkbabyandthe
babysitters

It's the chasing a hit mentality that ruined his music after 96 when that was no longer realistic.

He might have had one or two minor hits but anything more than that? No.

He would have been better off just making good songs, not trying to score commercial success.

Also yes, he might have done ok with a few RUTJF songs, but he didnt know how to be nice to Clive Davis or play that game so they dropped the ball on that album.
[Edited 1/27/21 8:36am]
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Reply #15 posted 01/27/21 8:42am

LoveGalore

funkbabyandthebabysitters said:

It's the chasing a hit mentality that ruined his music after 96 when that was no longer realistic. He might have had one or two minor hits but anything more than that? No. He would have been better off just making good songs, not trying to score commercial success. Also yes, he might have done ok with a few RUTJF songs, but he didnt know how to be nice to Clive Davis or play that game so they dropped the ball on that album. [Edited 1/27/21 8:36am]

He did play nice. Arista had major internal problems. Clive wasn't even there a year later.

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Reply #16 posted 01/27/21 8:51am

ChocolateBox31
21

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Prince(r.i.p.) had number#1 albums well into the 2000's. His last single hit was barely a year before he transitioned with "1000 X's & O's"(Whom got quite a bit of radio play & chart success). Plus radio & chart hits is ALL politics with the same microwave hits been played every hour..


Prince(r.i.p.) had a conference with LA Reid(whom was interested in working with him) but he didn't like the MUZIQ that Prince(r.i.p.) presented him and told him flat to his face!

Prince(r.i.p.) still was making WAY more money post 95 then he did in his entire years at WBR.

[Edited 1/27/21 14:37pm]

"That mountain top situation is not really what it's all cracked up 2 B when eye was doing the Purple Rain tour eye had a lot of people who eye knew eye'll never c again @ the concerts.just screamin n places they thought they was suppose 2 scream."prince
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Reply #17 posted 01/27/21 9:52am

antonb

Do you remember those days? Prince was pretty much an outcast during that period. Warner bros and other companies and radio stations didnt want to know. He played wembley stadium not long before when still under warners. He was still a big artist, then came the name change etc and it all changed very quickly. If he would have stayed at warners as prince he would have still been a so called major artist with more hits i recon

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Reply #18 posted 01/27/21 9:53am

Vannormal

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MattyJam said:

This has always baffled me. Contrary to what some people say, I actually think he was still writing music which had huge chart potential. Songs like Wherever U Go Whatever U Do, Somebody's Somebody and Dance 4 Me could've been massive. And I don't buy that Prince didn't care about having a hit, when some of his music from 96-16 was very obviously tailor made to fit in with the contemporary music scene of the time. I don't buy that it's an age issue, because it didn't stop his 80s contemporaries. So what was it that stopped him from having another hit when MJ and Janet still managed a few in the 00s and Madonna continued to achieve an abudance of chart hits until the radios stopped playing her a few years back.

-

Compare those mediocre four songs you mentioned and comppare them with the real hits he had earlier on on the top of his game.

There's your answer.

-

Anther more complex answer is a mixture of all this :

-

1. I believe he was desperate for a hit, up until he started to move into the instrumental and jazz directions, towards the end of the nineties.

-

2. Also keep in mind the moniker he named himself with his dispute, the preaching, the complaining about the record industry & money after he signed one of the biggest contracts back then, and a lot of other things that were treated exactly with disinterest, or were just bad choices...

-

3. / 4. / 5. / etc... plus; Prince's über control freakishness, his constant change of mind,

the different labels, bad choices for protégés, and badly maintained great protégés,

uninspired band changes, and not to forget ...

the Larry thing, the jehove thing, the ban of curse words and nastyness, the bad business of Paisley Park, his marriages and the death of his child, the keeping up appearances about that horrifying event of his dead child during the interview with Oprah (poor Mayte), the routine sounding tours later on in his life where he basically lived on only playing hits, barely ever promoting a new album by playing theses songs live, ...

-

9. His relationship with the press in general; first he avoided them, then when things went slow, he all of sa sudden started to do nothing but press and TV, but actually had very little (interesting) to say.

-

10. His hidden drug addiction (not to forget), which probably/possibly had a big influence on all this. Though I'm not an expert.

-

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves.
And wiser people so full of doubts"
(Bertrand Russsell 1872-1972)
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Reply #19 posted 01/27/21 10:23am

Phase3

Let me add that not immediately releasing "Fall in love tonight" as a single right after the New girl show appeared after the superbowl was a big missed opportunity for a hit song.I believe that could've been a hit but instead I think it was released maybe 2 months afterwards?
Even casual prince fans I know enjoy that song
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Reply #20 posted 01/27/21 11:14am

SantanaMaitrey
a

He had a hit with Musicology, didn't he?
O tempora! O mores!
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Reply #21 posted 01/27/21 11:32am

MattyJam

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Vannormal said:

MattyJam said:

This has always baffled me. Contrary to what some people say, I actually think he was still writing music which had huge chart potential. Songs like Wherever U Go Whatever U Do, Somebody's Somebody and Dance 4 Me could've been massive. And I don't buy that Prince didn't care about having a hit, when some of his music from 96-16 was very obviously tailor made to fit in with the contemporary music scene of the time. I don't buy that it's an age issue, because it didn't stop his 80s contemporaries. So what was it that stopped him from having another hit when MJ and Janet still managed a few in the 00s and Madonna continued to achieve an abudance of chart hits until the radios stopped playing her a few years back.

-

Compare those mediocre four songs you mentioned and comppare them with the real hits he had earlier on on the top of his game.

There's your answer.

-

Anther more complex answer is a mixture of all this :

-

1. I believe he was desperate for a hit, up until he started to move into the instrumental and jazz directions, towards the end of the nineties.

-

2. Also keep in mind the moniker he named himself with his dispute, the preaching, the complaining about the record industry & money after he signed one of the biggest contracts back then, and a lot of other things that were treated exactly with disinterest, or were just bad choices...

-

3. / 4. / 5. / etc... plus; Prince's über control freakishness, his constant change of mind,

the different labels, bad choices for protégés, and badly maintained great protégés,

uninspired band changes, and not to forget ...

the Larry thing, the jehove thing, the ban of curse words and nastyness, the bad business of Paisley Park, his marriages and the death of his child, the keeping up appearances about that horrifying event of his dead child during the interview with Oprah (poor Mayte), the routine sounding tours later on in his life where he basically lived on only playing hits, barely ever promoting a new album by playing theses songs live, ...

-

9. His relationship with the press in general; first he avoided them, then when things went slow, he all of sa sudden started to do nothing but press and TV, but actually had very little (interesting) to say.

-

10. His hidden drug addiction (not to forget), which probably/possibly had a big influence on all this. Though I'm not an expert.

-


You don't sound like a fan, at all. Just sayin.

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Reply #22 posted 01/27/21 12:19pm

datdude

by "hits" i assume you mean pop? Somebody's Somebody and 1000 XOXO were in heavy rotation on black radio. the latter was definitely a top 20 hit, the former i'd have to check

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Reply #23 posted 01/27/21 1:35pm

nayroo2002

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Phase3 said:

Let me add that not immediately releasing "Fall in love tonight" as a single right after the New girl show appeared after the superbowl was a big missed opportunity for a hit song.I believe that could've been a hit but instead I think it was released maybe 2 months afterwards? Even casual prince fans I know enjoy that song

I didn't like that song, but everyone elso who had no idea who Prince was did!

You are right on that missed op!!!

"Whatever skin Ur in
we all need 2 b friends"
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Reply #24 posted 01/27/21 1:36pm

nayroo2002

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RJOrion said:

a "hit" isnt made by the artist alone...a "hit" record is a collaborative coordinated effort by artist, label, management, distribution, and media... Prince spent alot of years distancing himself from that process, and in turn burning those historical industry bridges...he paid dearly for it ... you cant draw SLAVE on your face and publicly bash the industry that has invested MILLIONS of dollars in you, and made you one of their poster boys and Golden Child...he bit the hand that fed him... that never works...thats why the hits stopped coming...it had little to do with the actual music...LOL at thinking good music alone will get you a "hit record"... you have to play the game...and its a VERY dirty game

That about the jist of it!

"Whatever skin Ur in
we all need 2 b friends"
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Reply #25 posted 01/27/21 1:37pm

nayroo2002

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zobilamouche said:

A couple of things that pop to mind...

After 95, and even earlier on, Prince was no longer shaping the music of an era but trying to mix contemporary sounds with his own style, which often resulted in something that wasn't here nor there. He was still unchallenged as a performer and musician, but not so as a writer. Statements in songs like "I AM the touch" actually proved that point more than it dismissed it.



Maybe he compromised more than he thought... and should have.



If you go through intverviews with people he worked with, and look at the path of many of the most cherished songs; most of them were a work in progress for years. Much of the material people love from the 80s originated years befor they actually were released.
Don't remember exactly who said it but someone from the Revolution stated that the pace of making Purple Rain the movie, from concept, acting classes, re-writes to filming, forced him to work longer on the music.



So, though he can write a hit at the drop of a dime, I have the impression that the quality of his later work would have benefitted from some time to grow. And as others stated; he should have stayed involved with his releases, even when they don't turn out to be a hit. If an artist seems to stop caring about his new music, how do you expect the general public to do so?


His preoccupation with the business side and the clash with Warners took the focus away of the music.



That was followed by his religion shaping his music with varying success but also with nonsense like the Taurus/Stake statements. The whole smokescreen around the death of hs child was weird and unhealthy.

He continued trying to be a pop star while he was coming to an age where he could have evolved into more persona themed music. Singing Lolita at his age is just odd and seems out of touch with reality. Maybe "Reflections" was a bit cheesy, but it was also gorgeous and relatable as well. It was one of the few songs that felt honest and linked to who he was as a person.

Certainly withe 3rdeyegirl and HNR1 (the Josh massacre), he seemed less motivated to make music for himself and more about coaching new talent and giving them a platform. Which is a great thing to do, but for me those two albums are uninteresting on every level.

[Edited 1/27/21 2:34am]

Check

"Whatever skin Ur in
we all need 2 b friends"
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Reply #26 posted 01/27/21 2:05pm

skywalker

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It had little to do with Prince's music and more to do with the promotion/selling of his music. Prince wasn't really "working" with WB anymore in this regard. He uncoupled himself from the machine. Thus, he didn't get all the perks that go with being one of WB darlings. Record companies didn't invest enormous amounts of $$$$$ into him like they used to, thus....no "hits". Prince stopped playing the game by the rules and so he wasn't rewarded accordingly.

"New Power slide...."
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Reply #27 posted 01/27/21 2:16pm

nayroo2002

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https://prince.org/msg/7/426481

didn't he go to LA Ried to get it on radio?

"Whatever skin Ur in
we all need 2 b friends"
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Reply #28 posted 01/27/21 2:37pm

ChocolateBox31
21

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rolleyes

"That mountain top situation is not really what it's all cracked up 2 B when eye was doing the Purple Rain tour eye had a lot of people who eye knew eye'll never c again @ the concerts.just screamin n places they thought they was suppose 2 scream."prince
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Reply #29 posted 01/27/21 3:44pm

sambluedolphin

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Musicology the album was massive at the time, top 5 most counties. Also Cinnimon girl was top twenty.

Prince 2010 Good Luck for Future & Tour
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