By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
1500 B.C., Egypt: Scissors are invented.
1490, Italy: Leonardo da Vinci sketches male anatomical form. Butts are kinda hot-t-t.
1491-1986: Stuff, invariably, happens.
1987: George Michael highlights his own plump, round ass in the video for "Faith." Jealous, anyone?
1991, MTV Music Awards: Prince rocks the butt-out pants. World is never the same.
In fifth grade, after listening to Prince's "1999" with the scrutiny of a future English major, I delivered to my classmates the following prophecy: The world would end in 16 years. Prince said so. I seriously believed this, and I spent the next week or so in a morbid funk. I can't remember what shook me out of it, although possibly the groove to "Little Red Corvette," which brings me to this: For many of us, Prince provided a kind of soundtrack to our youth and young adulthood. I asked the Observer music staff what their favorite Prince song was and why. Here's what they wrote:
"When You Were Mine," Dirty Mind
To a 12-year-old in 1980, Prince's third album was the punk-a-funk-a-soul-a-roll pleasuredome, that thing you put on to find out what adults (and brothers and sisters, yee-uch) did when they got it on. He disowns this stuff now, having found God somewhere other than in a pair o' panties, but will never live down "When You Were Mine" because among his greatest singles, it's the greatest of all--catchy like barbed wire, funky like old sheets, heartbroken like only a teenager can get when his girlfriend hooks up with his best friend.
"Darling Nikki," Purple Rain
When Tipper Gore's anti-indecency patrol released a list of "bad" songs in the '80s, she indirectly told kids which bands were cool. When a lawyer on TV read the lyrics "I met her in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine," I immediately stole my sister's Purple Rain cassette. --Sam Machkovech
"I Would Die 4 U," Purple Rain
When I was younger, songs that incorporated choreography were "totally awesome." My friends and I especially liked songs using hand signs and numbers/letters. After listening to Purple Rain, I asked my sister, "Hey, what's 'masturbating' mean?" But that's the magic of Prince--he's a hot piece whose party music is so great most mothers won't mind the little ones pantomiming to tales of one-night stands and suggested suicide. --Merritt Martin
"Baby I'm a Star," Purple Rain
It was 1984, and I was an 8-year-old Catholic schoolgirl in a small Kansas town. I wanted to be Cyndi Lauper, and I wanted to marry Prince (or maybe Boy George). My Purple Rain poster was covered in tiny pink lip-gloss imprints, and I would sing and dance around my bedroom wearing a dangerous amount of bangle bracelets and the blue eye shadow left over from a ballet recital. --Shannon Sutlief
"Bat Dance," Batman
This wasn't a song so much as a string of dialogue from the first Batman movie, with Prince noodling around underneath it. Still, it's my favorite Prince jam. Why? Because I had to translate a song from English to Spanish in high school for a Spanish class assignment, and I chose this one. I got an A. It was easy. "Me llamo Batman..." --Zac Crain
"The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," Gold Experience
A highlight of the singer's late Warner Bros. era, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" is a lovely riposte to those shallow-listening prudes who hear only lust in Prince's work: "It's plain to see you're the reason that God made a girl," he sings humbly over a satin-sheeted bed of shimmering, soft-funk guitars. It's pure proposal material.