Throwback Thursday: Purple Rain (1984)

Above: Prince's funkadelic rock opera Purple Rain hit theaters in 1984

What: Purple Rain

When: 1984

Starring: Prince, Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day

Soundtrack includes: Let’s Go Crazy, Darling Nikki, When Doves Cry

Reason for the throwback: July 27 marked the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain hitting theatres, while the album of the same name reached that milestone a month earlier and it feels like the right time to recognize the brilliance of both.

I’m not here to tell you that Purple Rain is a great movie because it’s not, but there are some things about the film you have to appreciate, and I’m not just talking about the lake scene.

This is basically a concert movie wrapped in a love story, dressed in a frilly blouse with lots of black and purple and leather. Today’s equivalent would be Katy Perry turning a “concert documentary” into a a fictional story where she has a love interest and a rival, but the majority of the movie is her crushing it on stage. While concert films and musicians crossing over into acting is more common these days, Purple Rain was a pioneering effort when it came out.

And the very best soundtracks in the history of soundtracks, spawning two No. 1 hits and a couple other gems that are have stood the test of time.

“Let’s Go Crazy” is on the short list of “Top Side One, Track One Songs” and kicks off my personal “Get Hyped” mix. Twenty years later, you still can’t help but bounce around when it comes on. If that song comes on and you don’t get excited, there is a chance you’re dead.

“When Doves Cry” is an absolute classic – there’s no two ways about it. The video is iconic, it’s a very singable tune in many sections (outside of the high notes) and sonically it’s on a different level with the plinky synthesizers and lack of bass.

“Darling Nikki” is a sleeper too – a steamy, naughty little ditty that got Prince in some trouble and is one of the songs responsible for the Parental Advisory stickers/labels that have become ubiquitous on album covers over the last 20 years.

Add in “I Would Die 4 U” and the titular track and you see why most critics revere it as one of the best soundtracks ever.

Plus, Purple Rain introduced me to Morris Day and The Time and they served as the jump off point for a musical “Six Degrees of Separation” that connects to artists that featured heavily in my formative years like Usher, Boyz II Men, and Janet Jackson. Plus, the little shuffle step dance move Morris Day and Jerome break out during “Jungle Love” is still very much in my repertoire when I hit the dance floor after a couple adult beverages during wedding season.

For still being an influential hit on multiple platforms 20 years later, Purple Rain is today’s throwback.

Game… blouses!

Tags: Prince, TBT

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