Ask any current artist who their musical inspirations are and Prince’s name is bound to be mentioned.
His fearless approach to music, and the hard work he put into each track, made him one of music’s most aspired-to artists. We’ve put together a list of songs from some of music’s biggest names who took their musical cues from the 57-year-old superstar.
Lace And Leather: If Prince’s “You’re filthy cute and baby, you know it” lyric from Cream had a theme song, this would be it. A saccharine sweet reimagining of Prince’s 1986 classic Kiss, with all the sly winks and coy giggles charm of the original.
Boys: The whispery carnal lust of this song directly channels some of Prince’s experimentations in minimalist pop/R&B.
Showdown: Are you seeing the running theme, here? While Britney’s biggest hits often evoked sonic memories of Janet and Michael, her quieter album tracks plugged directly into the seductive subtlety of Prince’s nastiest tracks.
Kiss It Better: Dubbed by many critics and fans as her “Purple Rain”, Rihanna evoked an equally 80s and 90s sound on the second single from ANTi. The slow groove and impassioned vocal delivery brings back a time where the hair was huge and the outfits were eccentric.
Sexuality: A direct reinvention of Prince’s 1981 track Controversy, the result is so similar to Prince’s trademark sound, it’s a wonder he didn’t slap a lawsuit on it. Maybe that’s why it was never released…
Skin: Take your pick of the many passionate slow jams Prince released throughout the 1990s, Rihanna sonically references them all here.
’03 Bonnie and Clyde: Beyonce’s Prince fangirl status first appeared on this smash hit. At 2:53, Beyonce take this 2Pac reimagining to the next level by sampling Prince’s 1987 gender-bending classic “If I Was Your Girlfriend”. Rearranging the meaning from a man trying to save a dead relationship to a pledge of loyalty to a new partner was a stroke of genius on an already iconic track.
No Angel: Beyonce brings a Princely falsetto to one of her most unusual tracks.
Rocket: This R&B extravaganza evokes some of Prince’s most emotional love/sex ballads such as Insatiable, Satisfied and Do Me Baby.
She Lives In My Lap: One of rap’s most eccentric figures, Andre 3000 spent most of Outkast’s 2003 double album smash Speakerboxxx/The Love Below evoking the Purple One, but no more than on this Rosario Dawnson feature track, which sounds like it came directly from Prince’s bizarre mid-90s release The Black Album.
Prototype: A dreamy, guitar-driven ode to newfound love brings to mind Prince’s more spiritual songs.
Uptown Funk: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars revisited Morris Day and Prince’s late 80s sound for this one, which probably had diehard Prince fans wondering how Housequake made it onto radio in 2015.
Gorilla: The NSFW lyrics, the fevered falsetto, the gigantic chorus, yep, Prince is written all over one of Mars’s sexiest singles.
Adorn: This song is everything 1980s R&B was, and it scored Miguel the most comparisons to Prince since D’Angelo.
Lost Without You: Before he was a total creep, Thicke made a name for himself in the early 2000s, crooning a number of Prince-esque sex anthems that went largely unheard due to his living in Justin Timberlake’s shadow.
Sex Therapy: These careful, confident songs serve as an example of the logical Prince successor Thicke might’ve become if he didn’t sacrifice talent for viral controversy.
Until The End Of Time: Justin Timberlake and Beyonce – two of pop’s most vocal Prince fans – rework The Beautiful Ones into a heartfelt ballad.
SexyBack: Justin’s lead single from his second album was a monster hit all on its own, but SexyBack’s robotic falsetto come-on’s evoke Prince’s straightforward sex anthem Gett Off.
Love Sex Magic: Like Rihanna’s Sexuality, Justin teams up with Ciara to create another remixed Controversy tribute.
California Gurls: We’re not sure either so we’ll let Perry explain: “It’s been a minute since we had a California song and especially from a girl’s perspective. We took the references of Prince, which is always a great reference, and some of the ’90s, almost house music references.” Okay.
Blow Ya Mind: Minaj samples Darling Nikki, possibly the most controversial song of the 1980s. Beyonce also reworked the track as a cute tribute to her musical BFF.
Hands To Myself: Selena’s breathy vocals seem perfectly made to cover Prince, but she took it one step further and created her very own Prince song.
Primetime: The Miguel feature was a stroke of genius for this already perfect song on a perfect album that actually features Prince himself.