In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, in honor of Prince’s pair of new albums, we’re picking our favorite songs from the Purple One.
Prince’s pair of ’70s albums may have been the world’s introduction to the Minneapolis R&B phenomenon, but it was Dirty Mind, his first album released in the ’80s, that showed he was a pop sensation strutting toward a breakout. Much like 1979’s Prince, his Purpleness’ third album saw him handling the bulk of the instrumentation, and even as Dirty Mind shifts from funk to R&B to contemporary pop, it’s all united by its maker’s consuming aura.
“When You Were Mine” shows Prince in peak pop form, as a hip-shaking backbeat lays the groundwork for his funky falsetto, after a synth line introduces—and eventually restates—the song’s persistent hook. The track wouldn’t end up being one of Dirty Mind’s singles, but it would be thrust into the spotlight when Cyndi Lauper’s cover of “When You Were Mine” was released as the seventh single from her debut smash, She’s So Unusual. Lauper’s lauding of the track wouldn’t come until 1985, a year after Prince released Purple Rain and bathed the world in lavender, but it served as a reminder that Prince was always a superstar in the making, even if at the decade’s start he was just a one-man revolution.