Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course).
There's no possible way to do a 12 by... for Prince as a performer. I'd have to be more like 48 by... But, if we look at songs the Kid has written or co-written for other artists, then 12 is a perfectly reasonable number. I've tried to include songs that were pretty much exclusive to the artist that did them.
1. Stevie Nicks - Stand Back (from The Wild Heart, 1983) Though not credited, Prince Rogers Nelson definitely had a hand in this one. Just listen to those synths and the funky guitar and it'll become a little more apparent.
2. The Time - Jungle Love (from Ice Cream Castles, 1984) So prolific was the Artist that he had to create other bands to showcase his songs. Thus was born The Time, and this unforgettably primal anthem.
3. Shelia E - The Glamorous Life (from The Glamorous Life, 1984)
Maybe one of his most memorable instrumental hooks, and that's saying something. They lyrics contains strange shifts in point of view, so don't try to figure out the message. I've been working on it for years.
4. Sheila E - A Love Bizarre (from Romance 1600, 1985)
Over 12 minutes long and worth every moment, but it's a shame the single version isn't available on iTunes. At any rate, this is probably the most involved Prince gets in any of the songs on the list, singing back-up and offering some trademark screams near the end.
5. The Bangles - Manic Monday (from A Different Light, 1986)
Shimmery pop inspired by a crush.
6. Kenny Rogers - You're My Love (from They Don't Make Them Like They Used To, 1986)
What's interesting is that just as his own music was becoming more innovative and strange (Kiss came out the same year), the tunes Prince wrote for others were as straightforward and palatable as apple pie.
7. Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U (from I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, 1990)
This one was written in 1985 for The Family, but Sinead did this cover of that version and the rest is history.
8. Tevin Campbell - Round and Round (from Graffiti Bridge, 1990)
Was he emulating his proteges Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis? Maybe a little, but adding a soulful voiced young Campbell to the heavy beat dance music was a stroke of genius, and also showed Prince could roll with the times.
9. Martika - Love...Thy Will Be Done (from Martika's Kitchen, 1991)
The Toy Soldiers singer got under Prince's wing for her second album and he gave her this pop gospel song.
10. Joe Cocker - Five Women (from Night Calls, 1991)
"It took five women to get you off of my mind / It took five months of plenty good wasted time / But it just took five minutes when I saw your face again / To fall in love all over." An immaculate blues tune worthy of Ray Charles or Eric Clapton that once again shows the versatility of the Purple One. Cocker's strong vocal doesn't hurt anything.
11. Celine Dion - With This Tear (from Celine Dion, 1992)
Written in epic, melodramatic style, With This Tear is a lighter-waver. One can't help wishing to hear the man himself sing it though.
12. El Debarge - Tip O' My Tongue (from In the Storm, 1992)
Great beat? Check. Funky little horn riff? Check. Sexual innuendo? Yep. Random Biblical references? Uh, yeah.