Sunday, April 30, 2017

Purple Power Rankings #433-421: Yes, "Poom Poom" is About What U Think It Is

"Hmm, tastes like...what was her name again?"
433. Until U're In My Arms Again (Newpower Soul, 1998)
--Aural diabetes. A ballad so saccharine, it would make Diane Warren puke.

432. My Little Pill (Old Friends 4 Sale, 1999)
--It's easy to look askance now at any reference to popping pills in Prince's music--and in his later years, there were many, even on otherwise upbeat tracks like "$". This leftover from the aborted I'll Do Anything soundtrack was probably the first, and it's easily the bleakest. This is what depression sounds like, and it was only slightly less disturbing then than it is now.

431. Somewhere Here on Earth (Planet Earth, 2007)
--Prince had an avowed distrust of cell phones, and it left him open to ridicule about continuing to reference obsolete technology ("In this digital age, U can just page me/I know it's the rage, but it just don't engage me"). The singer's Luddite tendencies aside, this cloying ballad simply ends up somewhere close to "Solo" in its overwrought attempts at emotion.

430. Circle of Amour (The Truth, 1999)
--Just when "The Truth" and "Don't Play Me" lead us to think we're tracking toward a more grown, honest lyrical bent over an acoustic instrumental bed, Prince blindsides the listener with an aural Skinemax feature masquerading as a French art film. Spoiler alert: Four girls ditch school for a circle-jerk. Sure, it's an effective encapsulation of teenage melodrama and ennui, but if you're going to try for pretty and poetic, don't drop the ball in the third verse ("4 hands in the place where the feet connect/Circle of sex").

429. Ronnie, Talk 2 Russia (Controversy, 1981)
--Prince's faith in music's power to change the world could come off as endearingly sweet or annoyingly naive. Examples of the former: "Still Would Stand All Time" or "Free." "Ronnie, Talk 2 Russia" is the nadir of the latter, the sound of a man quivering in fear even while he tries to fling tough-sounding doggerel at the leader of the free world ("Ronnie, if U're dead before I get 2 meet ya/Don't say I didn't warn ya"). The song is suitably frantic for the decade that gave us Reagan's "Star Wars" and "The Day After," but is still somehow less urgent than the party groove of "1999."

428. So Blue (For You, 1978)
--Like "Tangerine" in the previous post, "So Blue" isn't necessarily a bad song. It's just sort of...there. Stuck between the lively "My Love is Forever" and the "holy shit, this kid can play rock guitar too?" throwdown of "I'm Yours," a pretty yet cliche acoustic love ballad just won't stick in the memory banks for long. Clunky lyrics (you know, the kind an 18-year-old might write) like "I feel just like the sky/I'm so blue" don't help, though.

427. Emale (Emancipation, 1996)
"You wanna do WHAT with that money?!?"
--There's online chess, a robbery of some sort, a dude threatening to kill both a girl and her boyfriend...and somehow, this gets her wet? ("Read like a threat that crept in2 her like a sex machine") Cybersex was still quite the novelty in 1996, so no one was quite sure of the best way to do it. This, however, was most certainly not it.

426. Silly Game (Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, 1999)
--The lyrics read like a series of direct shots at ex-wife Mayte, especially after one reads through her book. Biased source material and all that, but the two are total he-said/she-said night-and-day opposite accounts of their relationship. Believe who you will. As for this song, it fits nicely into what I dub "The Self-Pity Suite," a depressing stretch on the back end of Rave that makes you want to shake Prince by the shoulders and tell him to LET IT GO, MAN! (Oh, sorry, "Letitgo, man.") Between this, "I Love U, But I Don't Trust U Anymore," and "Strange But True," there's almost no sense of fun left in an album that didn't have a ton of it to begin with.

425. Resolution (Planet Earth, 2007)
--There's that naive streak again. "The main problem with war/Is that nobody ever wins" sounds like a lyric written immediately after he finished a 3 AM screening of War Games. Despite the heavy subject matter, the song is hardly a head-knocking protest full of the same fire that propelled classics like "Fortunate Son" or "Masters of War." Instead, "Resolution" packs as much wallop as a cotton-wrapped pool noodle and makes a disappointing closer to the already spotty Planet Earth album.

424. Poom Poom (Crystal Ball, 1997)
--What happens when you've written so much about sex that you've officially exhausted the English language? This:

This isn't the mix that appears on the Crystal Ball collection, and fortunately, the original mix is only slightly less annoying than this infernal edit. Lyrically, the sex boasts were starting to wear thin by the time he penned rhymes like "4:58 and I'm hard straight/Licorice and goldenseal is all I ate/If U were here I wouldn't masturbate/Wishin' I was kin 2 your PoomPoom." Refer to a woman's genitalia as the "PoomPoom" a few too many times and masturbation may become a mortal man's only option.

423. Deconstruction (The Rainbow Children, 2001)
--Another patented Rainbow Children segue. It furthers the story and little else. Kind of like this write-up.

422. The Same December (Chaos & Disorder, 1996)
--A very long-winded renunciation of everything that should seem important in the music industry, like record sales and awards:
"There once was a golden idol that went 2 the winners/Needless 2 say, it didn't make 'em feel any less a sinner/Cuz the very next mornin' the whole damn world was the same/Yes it was/The idol's still shinin' but the voice inside it said,/"There ain't no winners in this game"
Pictured: the unamused.
Of course, the cynic might snark that "The Artist Formerly Known" had little memory of any of the industry's "golden idols" by then. Remember, though, this was still only a couple of years post-"The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," his last substantial commercial breakthrough before Musicology put him back on the map in '04.

421. Race (Come, 1993)
--This one's a shame, because the beat is one of the more effective hip-hop beds he'd ever produced, and Jearlyn Steele's "FACE THE MUSIC!" bellow is a truly galvanizing hook. Unfortunately, Prince starts rapping over it. "If the air is a little thick in this room 2nite/I reckon it's the result of an onslaught of separatist rookies/Overcome by this colorful sight" is the overly cluttered bar that kicks off an indictment of rappers who big up their race by denigrating others'. A noble sentiment, but Prince's rhymes are too sporadic to carry it effectively.

NEXT TIME: 12 minutes of porn soundtrack, a "Bohemian Rhapsody" knock-off, and environmental posturing. With extra cheese.

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