Wednesday, September 26, 1984

Prince released “Purple Rain” as a single

First posted 11/17/2019.

Purple Rain

Prince & the Revolution

Writer(s): Prince (see lyrics here)


Released: September 26, 1984


First Charted: September 21, 1984


Peak: 2 US, 12 CB, 12 RR, 4 RB, 18 AR, 6 UK, 3 CN, 41 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 1.0 US, 0.69 UK, 1.69 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 193.40


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

“Purple Rain” was the third single from Prince’s monstrous 1984 soundtrack of the same name. It followed two #1 songs – “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” It peaked at #2, but after Prince’s death in 2016, it re-charted, hitting #4. In the UK, the revived song hit #6, two spots above its original peak, and in France it went to #1 after the original stalled at #12. WK

Prince originally reached out to Stevie Nicks to write lyrics for what was then a country-tinged 10-minute song. She said, “I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. It’s too much for me.’” NME She’s also said she suspected he wanted a relationship with her. SF He eventually wrote three verses – one about his parents, one about Apollonia (his girlfriend at the time and co-star in the movie), and his band mates. NME In the movie, Prince’s band mates Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman complain that he never uses any of their material. The move ends with him taking the stage and introducing the song as being written by them. SF

Coleman said the song symbolized “a new beginning. Purple, the sky at dawn; rain, the cleansing factor.” NME Prince explained it by saying, “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple…purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.” NME The idea echoed a theme from his “1999” song two years earlier in which he sang “…could have sworn it was Judgment Day, the sky was all purple…” WK However, the phrase was first used in America’s 1972 hit “Ventura Highway” and the line “Sorry boy, but I’ve been hit by purple rain.” SF

Prince also reached out to Journey’s Jonathan Cain because he was worried the song sounded too much like the band’s “Faithfully” ballad. Cain was okay with it, noting that songs only shared a few chords. NME He told Prince, “I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.” SF

The song was recorded live at a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theatre on August 3, 1983 at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis. NME The songs “I Would Die 4 U” and “Baby I’m a Star” were also recorded at the performance and used on the Purple Rain soundtrack. WK The song was also memorably featured in his Super Bowl halftime show in 2007 – while it was raining.


Resources and Related Links:

Awards:


Friday, September 14, 1984

Madonna performs “Like a Virgin” at the MTV Video Awards

First posted 11/14/2019.

Like a Virgin

Madonna

Writer(s): Billy Steinberg/Tom Kelly (see lyrics here)


Released: October 31, 1984


First Charted: November 16, 1984


Peak: 16 US, 15 CB, 13 RR, 29 AC, 9 RB, 3 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU
(Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 2.14 US, 0.93 UK, 3.19 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 67.0


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

One could potentially mark September 14, 1984 as the date when Madonna became a superstar. Over the last year, she’d had three top twenty Billboard pop hits with “Holiday,” “Borderline,” and “Lucky Star.” However, the title track from her sophomore album launched her into the stratosphere. She premiered the song on the aforementioned date at the first MTV Video Music Awards. When she writhed on the floor in a wedding dress, the world took notice of her no-holds-barred sexuality. It was “one of the seminal moment in the history of MTV” SF and “one of the most iconic pop performances of all time.” WK

The song wasn’t originally written for Madonna, or even a female singer. Lyricist Billy Steinberg wrote the song from personal experience. He said it wasn’t about truly being a virgin, but about the positive feeling that came with a new relationship. At a meeting with Warner Brothers Record’s Michael Ostin, Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the song’s co-writer, they played a demo of the song and told him they weren’t sure who it would fit. Ostin happened to have a meeting with Madonna the next day and thought it would be perfect for her. BR1

Ostin said, she “went crazy, and knew instantly it was a song for her.” WK Madonna said, “I certainly wasn’t a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be like a virgin? I liked the play on words; I thought they were clever.” WK She said she never realized it would become one of her signature songs. WK

Producer Nile Rodgers, best known for being in Chic (“Le Freak”), didn’t want Madonna to record the song initially. He didn’t think the title was, as he told the Los Angeles Times, “the all-time catch phrase. But after about four days I couldn’t get the song out of my head.” BR1 Audiences couldn’t get it out of their heads either. “Like a Virgin” became her first of 12 #1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and the biggest song of 1984. WHC


Resources and Related Links:

  • Madonna’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 524.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 113.
  • WK Wikipedia

Awards:


The First MTV Video Music Awards: September 14, 1984

Originally posted September 14, 2012.

image from vibe.com

Barely three years old, MTV launched its first video music awards in 1984. They handed out the awards on September 14 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in a show hosted by Bette Midler and Dan Akyrokyd. The big nominees of the night were The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” (winning for Best Cinematography) and Herbie Hancock’s “Rock-It”, each with eight nominations. Cyndi Lauper received nine total nominations for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (6) and “Time after Time” (3).


Hancock was the big winner of the night taking home five trophies (Special Effects, Concept Video, Most Experimental Video, Art Direction, Editing). The Cars took the prize for Video of the Year with “You Might Think”. Best Male Video went to David Bowie’s “China Girl” while Lauper’s “Girls” won for Best Female Video. ZZ Top’s “Legs” garnered the award for Best Group Video and their “Sharp Dressed Man” snagged Best Direction.

Other “Moonmen” awards – they were nicknamed for the astronaut statuette inspired by MTV’s then-logo – went to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (Best Overall Performance, Best Choreography, Viewers’ Choice), the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” (Best New Artist), Van Halen’s “Jump” (Best Stage Performance).

In addition to performances from Bowie and ZZ Top, Tina Turner, Huey Lewis & the News, Rod Stewart, and Ray Parker Jr. all performed. However, it was Madonna who stole the show with her performance of “Like a Virgin” during which she slunk around on the floor in a wedding dress.

Note: seven of the videos which won awards that night appear on the DMDB list of the top 100 videos of all time: “Thriller” (#2), “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (28), “Every Breath You Take” (29), “Rock-It” (30), “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” (34), “You Might Think” (39), and “Legs” (97).

Resources and Related Links: