First posted on February 26th, 2012 on The Cold Slither Podcast - CW post link
Of all the tiny, effeminate, African-American mainstream pop culture mega-stars of the 1980’s and 90’s, few drew as many comparisons as Prince and Michael Jackson. For me however there was never any comparison. As a kid I was a huge Michael Jackson fan, in fact, Thriller was one of the first three albums I ever owned. I have distinct memories of listening to that record, especially the title track and especially the Vincent Price part
But it was so much more than a record. The video was like a miniature horror movie with pop music. It was epic! I remember the disclaimer in the beginning with Michael’s declaration that the video was just for fun and he didn’t believe in the occult and was neither a zombie or a werewolf…or something like that. After all, the last thing Michael Jackson would ever have wanted to do was develop a negative public reputation. I even remember standing in a department store (probably Service Merchandise) in front of a wall of TVs, playing Thriller’s behind the scenes featurette. It demonstrated the makeup choreography and everything else that went into making such a groundbreaking music video.
The reason I never compared the two as a kid is that I didn’t even have any idea who Prince even was. Apparently, for some reason my parents thought that songs like “Darling Nikki” and “Erotic City” weren’t suitable for their kid to listen to! That being the case, my knowledge of the music and career of Prince has been sadly lacking…until now. Through my assigned research for the Cold Slither Podcast, I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about the life and times of the royalty turned pop star Prince Albertinican.
The son of King Albertinican ruling monarch of all of Purpletopia, was always a little…different. He never showed much interest in his training and would sometimes skip his royal classes all together. At times it seemed as though he didn’t even want to be groomed to eventually rule Purpletopia, and truth be told he didn’t. His love above everything else, was music. He traveled to the Americas to pursue musical training causing outrage among the noble class of his country. The scandal eventually forced his father to public disown the young prince and remove all royal titles.
Meanwhile the Prince who now had begun to defiantly use Prince as his stage title had started to make quite a name for himself in the United States pop music scene. Capitalizing on Americas love of shirtlessness, his music videos were constantly at the top of whatever list measures the success of music videos! It looked as though this dishonored prince would rule after all. There was only one thing standing in his way. It seemed that in the United States, pop music already had royalty…it had a king named Michael Jackson.
It seemed that with every move Prince Made, that dastardly Jackson was one step ahead of him. Prince wrote a hit song, Michael wrote a mega hit! Prince got a sweet endorsement deal with the RC Cola Soda-Pop company and Michael Jackson gets an even better deal with Pepsi. Prince sets the hearts of millions of teenage girls on fire. Michael sets his hair on fire! It seemed there was nothing he could do to get the better of MJ. Then one weekend in an RC Cola (he had a lifetime supply) -fueled eruption of creativity Prince created one of the most staggeringly triumphant records to ever get into the unworthy hands of Mr. and Mrs. America. That album had everything the hits just kept coming.
The world held it’s breath to see how Jackson would respond. And respond he did. Thriller, as an album sold mildly the darker turn in the lyrics put some people off and nearly everyone was afraid of tiger cubs
What put Michael Jackson’s Thriller over the top was the music video for the title track. America suddenly had Thriller-mania and even Prince’s constant lack of shirts where not enough to help his video steal any of Michael Jackson’s thunder.
|Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was everything in the 80's.|
What Prince needed was a huge overproduced special effects music video extravaganza of his own! He needed a signature purple rain video. It would have supernatural elements but no monsters. Monsters were played out already. And besides, it was common knowledge that prince was deathly afraid of the dark. What he needed was a “Prince” video full of flair…full of sex appeal…full of Prince.
Here was the pitch:
It opens with a shirtless (of course) Prince wearing only tight leather pants and an ascot. He is on a picnic date with three women on a beach. The women all of whom are for some reason barely covered by sheets, feed him grapes and dab the sweat from his brow with silk scarves.
He begins to ask them if they would all like to be his “steady girl” when suddenly storm clouds fill the air and the skies open up with a downpour of the most beautiful purple rain imaginable. Prince, realizing that the violet rain will trigger his transformation gets so upset that he has to fan himself with a paper plate.
Before the eyes of the horrified (and by horrified, I mean turned on) women his leather pants rip apart and his legs are replaced by a glistening purple mermaid tail. He crawls (seductively) to the ocean shore and disappears head on into a crashing wave. There was no huge constantly imitated dance sequence. In the Purple Rain Video, when Prince transformed into a Mer-Prince it mostly consisted of him playing a seashell guitar, singing sexy lyrics to dolphins and writhing inappropriately on a coral reef.
Under the sea he swims and swirls amid sparkling lights and brightly colored bubbles chasing mermaids who giggle and play hard to get. Eventually in a twist ending the women on the beach are able to turn themselves into mermaids as well through the sheer force of their sex-drive. And Mer-Prince and the 85 Mer-Loves of his life frolic into the distance, beneath the briny deep.
To the lucky few who saw the purple rain music video, it stands alone as one of the greatest triumphs of any performers career in the history of the world. Had it aired the video itself may have actually replaced music entirely, such was it’s majesty. People who saw only seconds of it we said to have wept with joy for weeks afterward.
In the end however, it turned out that the Studio President’s Father had been killed by a mermaid and the whole project was scrapped.
They decided to just make a feature length movie about a singer instead.