Every Single Video Prince Ever Made
Prince was an astoundingly prolific artist, releasing nearly 40 albums under his own name(s), and thousands of songs for himself and others. His concerts were legendary, spellbinding from arenas to intimate clubs, flooring audiences around the world.
But videos? Prince was a lot more ambivalent about videos. He made dozens of them, some great, some... well, some were barely more than home videos he threw together with his friends or bandmates around Paisley Park.
It's in his videos, though that we see Prince's relationship with his music as a commercial artist. A few times, Prince really told a story or expanded on the narrative of a song using a video. In his performance-oriented videos, he was often mesmerizing, capturing much of what made Prince the best live pop musician of his era.
And importantly, it is in his videos that we see Prince exploring the edges of his identity and public persona. There are hints and clues of what Prince wanted to do next at almost every phase of his career. Frustratingly, though most of Prince's videos, including some of his very best, remained obscure, getting almost no airplay back when there were music video channels, or being distributed through one-off VHS video collections, CD-ROMs or uneven and short-lived video streams on Prince's websites. As a result, it's been almost impossible to evaluate Prince's videos as a whole body of work.
Until now. With the Prince estate's release of his entire video collection, in high resolution, some easily accessible for the first time ever, we get a different glimpse at Prince. While Prince's recorded albums seldom featured his absurd humor, his videos often gave free reign to Prince's sillier side. While many of his songs were solo productions where Prince (as his album credits so often proclaimed) produced, arranged, composed and performed the entire song, in his videos, he would often cast his bandmates, friends and proteges in roles where they would mime his work and represent facets of Prince himself. We even get to see Prince directing (or ghost-directing) a number of works, as he grew in ability and confidence as a director over the course of his career.
Now, the truth is, many of Prince's videos just aren't that great. Especially when considered in comparison to the sheer mind-boggling breadth of Prince's musical genius, or the groundbreaking video innovation of his pop contemporaries like Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Madonna, the fact that Prince has fewer truly extraordinary music videos is a stark contrast. But as with all things Prince, when he was doing his best, there was absolutely nobody better.
Here, then, is a look at all of Prince's music videos, in chronological order. There are 124 released during the 35 years of his pop career, and I've included the 2 estate-released videos as well. Many of these annotations on these videos began as an ongoing Twitter thread that I've been updating as the estate released new clips (Questlove said it was worthy of his NYU class!) but here I've updated and expanded all the information on each video, and covered the videos I omitted on Twitter, as well as a number which are not available on the streaming services, but which were released over the years.
I hope having the full library of Prince's videos available will help people appreciate the extraordinary breadth of his musical gift, and provide a new lens on not just how remarkably prolific he was, but how absolutely fearless Prince was in constantly exploring new aspects of his expression. Enjoy!
I Wanna Be Your Lover
Prince's first incontrovertible hit, from his second, self-titled album, featured an incredible look that nobody else could pull off. The open-necked blouse, with Prince still young enough to be openly aping Mick Jagger's prancing, also served to let a lot of new fans know that the new act they'd fallen for was, in fact, an individual man — not a group.
Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad
The first time Prince ever appeared in a video fronting a band, Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad is also the only appearance of early band member Gayle Chapman. The single dropped just as Prince was about to embark on his stint opening for Rick James on his 1980 tour, the biggest stage he'd yet commanded.
In the first video for his third album, Prince debuts a new look, an expanded band — including the first video appearance of Revolution stalwart Lisa Coleman on keys — and the stage set he'd use in that year's Dirty Mind tour. Also notable is one disappearance: pants. Prince is sporting bikini briefs, a dramatic way of introducing the coordinated looks he'd sport throughout the rest of his career, where the look on an album cover matched the looks on stage and the looks in his music videos.
Following on the heels of the Uptown single was this video for the title track of the Dirty Mind album. Filmed at the same time as the only other video of this era, the crowd stays excited throughout the clip, even as Prince shows off what must be his goofiest dance ever during the fade-out of the song, flailing his arm around while gripping his trench coat tight.
A huge upgrade in production values makes Controversy the turning point toward Prince's visual identity that launched him to superstardom in the 80s. There's a stained-glass window behind the set, just like on his hugely successful tour that year. The song itself is a thumping, all-time classic, and would remain a staple of his live sets for the rest of Prince's life. The band has nearly evolved into the Revolution with the addition of Mark Brown on the bass guitar, and Prince has his custom-tailored long trenchcoat with the studded epaulets already. The only thing missing? That slick custom coat is still colored black. A little splash of a signature color, and Prince was just about ready to show off the look he'd sport when he took over the world.
(There were a few signs that Prince's production team was still getting its act together in this pre-MTV era: check out the cameraman visible on stage left at 2:05.)
Prince at the peak of his No Pants Mode era, sporting his thigh-highs and briefs. At 2:30, Prince premieres his signature split, the move that would define his onstage presence during his greatest years of superstardom, and shape his life offstage long after he'd stopped doing that kind of dancing. But do stick around for the laser show at the end, as it evokes the lighting of Michael Jackson's Rock With You video from two years prior.
Now this is a superstar. Prince vaults into the stratosphere with the entire band (still not quite called the Revolution) sporting distinctive custom stagewear, nailing meticulous choreography for every note of the song, oozing sex appeal with each move, and becoming the purple force that would change the sound of pop radio for good. Standouts here are Jill Jones looking absurdly hot in a vaguely nautical hat, and the first time Prince showed off coordinated lighting synched to the motifs of the song.
Though this video was technically released first, it wouldn't get substantial airplay, or debut on MTV, until after his next video took off.
Little Red Corvette
More than any other, this is the video that made Prince a star. Alongside Michael Jackson, Prince would smash the color barrier at MTV through the sheer undeniable force of Litle Red Corvette's appeal. Beautiful, moody lighting carries through the whole video, making it look like nothing else on TV at the time.
Shot separately from the rest of the rest of the 1999 era videos, which had all been done in one session, Little Red Corvette was Prince's first video recorded on film. Bryan Greenburg, who directed the video, offered up a number of deeper insights into the creation of the video, including a cut sequence that would have featured Prince and Vanity tooling around in an actual little red Corvette. It's striking to think of Prince as just a 24-year-old still learning to do things like work with film cameras instead of videotape; he actually didn't realize he'd need to block out his dance moves with the cameraman, so when he did his signature split during the guitar solo, on the first take he had dropped below the frame of the camera.
It's also interesting to consider Prince's little spin moves in the pop culture moment of the time. Breakdancing was just starting to take off as a mass phenomenon, and even the few seconds of spinning Prince did in this video put him in the conversation as part of that movement, despite his having had almost no connection to hip hop.
None of that mattered, though, once the video premiered on MTV. The video rocketed the song up the charts, revived the fortunes of both the 1999 single and album, and set the stage for world domination. Suddenly, everything was purple.
This was one of the first videos that Prince's estate shared online, and it's a scorcher. Recorded as part of the same marathon shooting schedule that captured the videos for 1999 and Let's Pretend We're Married, this shows off Jill Jones at her best, an unparalleled foil for Prince. And with the full song running for well over 8 minutes, Prince can fully let his freak flag fly; by 7 minutes on, Prince is tied to the bed onstage, and it's not long until Lisa is flogging him with a cat-o-nine-tails.
This one did not get any MTV airplay in 1982, sadly.
Let's Pretend We're Married
Unlike its sibling video Automatic, Let's Pretend We're Married was actually released as a single, albeit more than a year after the 1999 album had come out. By this time, Prince was already fully in the midst of creating the Purple Rain album and film, so this song was only a minor hit on the charts and the video, synched to a shortened edit of the song, basically never got an official release until it showed up online.
When Doves Cry
Prince's most famous video, the debut of the Revolution (with the addition of Wendy Melvoin, the band was now complete), exciting footage that acted at the time as a trailer for the Purple Rain film that was then to come, and additional scenes that worked in the years that followed as a glimpse at what was cut from the movie. When Doves Cry had everything to bring Prince to the unprecedented plateau of having the number one film, album and single in the United States, all at the same time.
While the special effects at the end haven't necessarily held up as well as the rest of the clip, it was only appropriate that a song which sounded like nothing else on radio before or since was accompanied by a video that couldn't have been created by anyone but Prince. The full integration of Prince's visual identity into his presence across media was perfected with this song and the launch of Purple Rain. In the video, he sports looks that would show up in the film, on stage during the Purple Rain tour, and in other videos from the project. The Purple Rain album even came with a poster of the backdrop illustration from the end of the clip.
These days, fandoms take for granted that an artist will have an "era", where their entire public persona is fully aesthetically integrated across every public medium. This song, and this video, is where that concept was first demonstrated in pop culture. With When Doves Cry, Prince birthed not just one of the biggest hits of all time, but the template for multi-media artistic coherence that became the standard for every major artist.
And through it all, there's tons of purple, paisley and the subtle appearance of a peculiar and portentous little symbol. Just two months before this video was recorded, Prince had been in a studio all by himself, writing, recording, performing and producing every single sound on the track. By a month later, when the video debuted, he'd become one of the biggest stars in the world.
I’ve always found the construction and production of the song mesmerizing, so 2 years ago, I asked Prince about how he recorded the song. https://t.co/MeCYzmwcAd— anildash (@anildash) March 2, 2018
No surprise, he didn’t exactly give a straight answer. But his joking response was maybe even better for preserving that mysterious aura Prince always cultivated. pic.twitter.com/VebaZI5lHN— anildash (@anildash) March 2, 2018
(You can check out a short edit of the When Doves Cry video, too, but why would you want to?!)
Let's Go Crazy
Mirroring much of the opening scenes of the Purple Rain film, the video for Let's Go Crazy is one of the best performance videos that Prince and the Revolution ever made, while also functioning as an irresistible trailer for the film. And though it's over-edited in the final cut of the video (this was at the dawning of the hyper-fast-cutting MTV editing style), Let's Go Crazy is the first video to feature Prince soloing on his guitar in true rock god mode.
Amazingly, Prince's signature song is among the very few of his videos that's not available from his official channel. There is a fan upload of the video, which is almost exactly the scene from the film where he performs the song; there may have been some rights issues to including the video on the official channel since it is, in essence, simply an excerpt from the film.
Though the official video is underwehlming, it's best when accompanied by this clip about Prince's legendary 2007 Super Bowl halftime performance, where Prince commanded the heavens to unleash a genuine Purple Rain, and pulled off the most dominating victory of any Super Bowl ever.
You'll want to know the amazing story behind Prince's conception of Purple Rain; I've written a detailed history of his influences and inspirations for the masterwork here: I Know Times Are Changing.
I Would Die 4 U
Prince at the height of his stardom, in his very first live performance video, featuring an expanded Revolution that incorporates Sheila E. and her band, setting the stage on fire in front of 20,000 fans.
Baby I'm A Star
Flowing seamlessly from the I Would Die 4 U video, since it was recorded at the same concert in Maryland in November of 1984, the Baby I'm A Star is the Purple Rain tour at its most indulgent and over-the-top, giving the band a full work out for more than 13 minutes straight.
You might think it goes on too long, but check out where you're at by 11 minutes in, where Prince is going harder than James Brown in his cues to the band, controlling the dozens of people on stage and in the crew with just the twitch of his hand. Unstoppable!
Take Me With U
Another scorching live performance, Take Me With U finds Prince and the Revolution at the height of their fame, during the Purple Rain tour, when they broke records selling out every seat in The Summit in Houston 5 times in one week.
In lieu of Appolonia's duet vocals as on the recorded song, the song becomes a rocking jam session with Prince's searing guitar solo rocketing into another gear with an interpolation of his own "Controversy" at the 3-minute mark. Add in some weird but fun special effects that make you feel like you're flying through the air while Prince shreds on his guitar, and it's hard not to love this one.
4 The Tears In Your Eyes
As the phenomenon of the Purple Rain movie and tour wound down, Prince found himself in a more pensive mood. When the entire industry focused its attention on the USA for Africa effort, Prince chose to contribute a new song to the album rather than join in the "We Are The World" singalong. And in lieu of showing up for the mega-concert staged by USA for Africa, he decided to contribute an exclusive video for that new song: 4 The Tears In Your Eyes.
An unabashedly spiritual song, the version released on the charity album was a conventional rock arrangement, but the video was a very human, pensive acoustic version with just Prince, Wendy and Lisa. It was almost never aired again after the day of the USA for Africa concert.
Also notable here: this is where Prince debuted a totally new look after Purple Rain. The short hair, black and white film, and conventional trenchcoat (sans signature purple and spiky epaulets, after years of sporting the look) seemed to presage the sober aesthetic he'd adopt the following year for much of his work around the movie Under the Cherry Moon.
Now, Prince might have cut his hair off after the Purple Rain tour, but that doesn't mean he was happy with how it turned out. You see, he'd also bleached it, perhaps trying to use his hair to indicate just how dramatically he was changing direction after the mega-success of his last album. But when it looked a mess, he decided to dye it back to black, with an end result that looked like a wig.
That wouldn't have been so bad, except that's the look he was sporting during one of his most famous videos ever: Raspberry Beret. Prince had first fought to not put out any video for the song, then tried to have it only be an animated video (the animation did end up being featured prominently in the clip), and finally eventually consented to appearing in the video. Accompanied by some of his best tailoring and costuming ever, with the absolutely beautiful cloud suit that perfectly evoked the song's vibe, the video helped put Prince back atop the charts almost instantly.
Despite the success, a lot of folks in the Prince camp (including members of the Revolution!) felt his hair looked like Liza Minelli in the clip, as they've mentioned in interviews. Prince himself felt that his hair evoked the style sported by Lou Ferrigno, who was then portraying The Incredible Hulk on the 80s TV show.
If you've ever had a bad haircut and hated your bangs, Raspberry Beret is the Prince song for you. (And keep your eyes peeled for a way-before-Nirvana Pat Smear in the background of the clip, too!)
Prince finally got his wish to disppear from his video, ironically on the song that would give a name to one of the most lasting parts of his legacy. Unfortunately, the video was essentially never released, and even diehard fans could only find bootleg copies of it that were sourced from a rare promo video years made by his record label years after the song came out.
Much of the public perception of the album Around The World In A Day (which included Paisley Park) was that it was Prince's "psychedelic" album. Though the influence of The Beatles and others on the album's sound has been a bit overstated, if this video had come out back then, its unabashed evocation of the aesthetics of 60s psychedelia would have undoubtedly cemented the idea that Prince had just been trying to evoke that era. Maybe it's better, then, that this video never came out at the time, allowing Paisley Park to come to represent a vision that is purely Prince's.
Now this is what I'm talking about: one of Prince's greatest videos ever. Prince and the Revolution, in the south of France, going all-out on the funkiest jam from the Around the World In A Day album— America.
It's damn near 10 minutes long, and you will be knocked on your ass when, at 8 minutes in, after scorching guitar solos and an unbelievably funky horn section, Prince runs back and takes over the drum set. If you've ever met anybody who says, "I don't get why people like Prince so much?", show them this video. If they don't get it then, they can't be helped.
(Why were the Revolution in France? Well, as was always the case during the 80s, Prince had already moved on to his next project while he was supposed to be promoting the current one. They were filming the movie Under the Cherry Moon, the inspiration for his next album, Parade.)
One of Prince's biggest videos, and maybe because it's the first one where fans got to see that Prince was really, really funny. Effortlessly sexy, mugging constantly for the camera, and featuring a stripped-down set that's as minimal as the song itself, Kiss was delightful, efficient and funky.
Like When Doves Cry, Raspberry Beret, and Paisley Park before it, the video for Mountains has Prince and his band bluescreened in front of a video background. Like Take Me With U, there's footage of flying through the skies (though much more appropriate to the lyrics of this song). But this time, there's a cinematic breadth to the video, both due to the expansive arrangement of the song, and the presence of irresisible personalities like Kristin Scott Thomas and Jerome Benton, both of whom joined Prince in Under the Cherry Moon — the film for which this song and video were created.
In contrast to the minimalism of Kiss, this is the maximalism of the Revolution at its biggest, adding in horn players, dancers, and Prince's biggest sound yet.
Girls & Boys
Unlikely as it may seem, one of the Revolution's funkiest songs ever is also its most elegant video ever. The expanded band shows up decked out in tuxedos and ball gowns, strutting to the unforgettable baritone saxophone riff that anchors the song. After weeks of filmng and recording in the south of France, Prince and the Revolution look as comfortable as if they'd been there their whole lives, breaking out some simple but delightful choreography at the song's fade.
But the highlight has to be Prince and Jerome Benton riffing as only they can, at 3:12 in the video. It's still absurdly funny after decades, and again shows a side of Prince's sense of humor that casual fans almost never got to see.
A wonderful glimpse into one of the most important concerts of Prince's career, his 1986 performance at Detroit's Cobo Arena on June 7, 1986 — his 28th birthday, a new maturity that was hinted at by one of the first times we ever see Prince ina suit and tie. The song was one of Prince's best slow-burning songs of the era, and as the final video appearance of the Revolution it marks the end of an incredible era.
Sign O' The Times
As was his custom in the 80s, Prince continued his streak of releasing a new album each year, and in 1987 he marked the launch of his most ambitious effort yet with a video that was perhaps his most modest ever. Reflecting his growing ambivalence about the trappings of MTV-based celebrity, which had prompted him to release 1985's Around the World in a Day with no lead single or video preceding the album, his dramatic video for Sign O' The Times, lead single for its eponymous album, not only didn't feature Prince — it didn't feature any humans at all.
In its way, the Sign O' The Times video presaged the lyric videos of the YouTube and social media age, and served to center everyone's attention onto the lyrics of the song, one of Prince's most starkly political messages to that point.
U Got The Look
Flipping from nearly invisible and focused on the world to front-and-center and outrageously sexy, Prince used the release of U Got The Look to feature an excerpt from the extraordinary Sign O' The Times concert film. Prince is all decked out in a fur coat, hoop earring and heels, and his duet partner Sheena Easton shares his peach and black palette as well as impeccable tailoring.
It's a fairly standard mid-80s high-production performance video, but the exuberance of the performance (and scandalously sexy appearances by the likes of musical director/percussionist/goddess Sheila E. as well as tour dancer Cat) elevates it to a perfect time capsule of the era.
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
Perhaps the best "pure" rock single of this era of Prince's career, the effervescent an unabashed pop of I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man hints at the romantic triangle that forms the nominal story of the Sign O The Times concert film, but this video is the one to watch if you want to see what is perhaps Prince's greatest band operating at its most ruthlessly powerful. Aside from the JB's at the peak of their run with James Brown or Tina Turner at her majestic best, it is almost impossible to find a document of a band making this much work look this effortless. (And do be sure to watch the entire concert film for the long version of this track — the bluesy breakdown and weeping guitar solo stand proud alongside Prince's very best solos ever.)
Alphabet St. is an extraordinarily colorful and hyper-saturated vision, reflecting Prince's desire that everything from the music to the visuals to the clothing design of the song should evoke a cartoon in its garishness and vibrance. But following a spiritual (and professional) reckoning after the cancelled release of his notorious Black Album just a few months earlier, Alphabet St. was clearly meant to reset Prince's persona for a new era.
The effects and extensive text overlays are very clearly of their era, but Prince's extreme eccentricity in everything from his choice of costume to his burying of hidden messages throughout the video keep the video from seeming as dated as it otherwise might. Indeed, the repetition and hyperactive editing of the clip make it one of the first of Prince's videos that seem to presage today's meme-based media.
Something of an obscurity due to the relative lack of chart success of the single, Glam Slam is perhaps best regarded as a document of Prince's most ambitious effort of the 80s, the Lovesexy album and tour. The album was an extremely challenging work, attempting to introduce his giant audience to a deeply personal, if somewhat obtuse, spiritual vision. And the accompanying tour was extremely ambitious in its staging, as becomes obvious in the Glam Slam video, which features the entire band choreographed in-the-round as they were on the tour. Add to that an entire string section, Prince's first coterie of male backup dancers, and elaborate spandex-ridden costumes, and the overall effect is a definite sense that more is more.
I Wish U Heaven
A delicate, almost minimal melody closes out the Lovesexy era for Prince, with a series of surreal and evocative objects working to pull us into a dreamlike state. One of the most effects-heavy videos Prince ever made, the clip was directed by Jean Baptiste Mondino, enjoying his heyday in the years between his directing of Tom Wait's "Downtown Train" and Madonna's "Justify My Love".
It's too bad "U Got The Look" was already taken, because this is a look. Prince latched into the Batmania that took over the world in 1989, and extended the mythos of the Burton/Keaton/Nicholson (and Basinger) film into a truly bizarre, brilliant visual that nobody else in the world could ever have attempted, let alone pulled off so well that it became a staple of both MTV and radio.
It's hard to itemize everything that's absurd and amazing about this clip. It's the first appearance of "Gemini", the half-Batman, half-Joker character that Prince had imagined as a persona on his soundtrack album. It's the first onscreen appearance of studio nerd Prince, alternating between geeking out on his samplers, keyboards and computers, and then hopping on top of the console to shred on one of his custom guitars.
It only gets weirder from there. An army of dancing Jokers and Batmen, a phalanx of Vicki Vales, and allusions to everything from Frank Miller's seminal Dark Knight to the theme song of the campy 60s Adam West series to, well... what we all imagined Paisley Park must have looked like?
In a world where we have a high-production-value comic book movie coming out every 3 weeks, it's hard to emphasize exactly how outrageous and incomprehensible this video seemed at the time. But as I noted in the years-long Twitter thread that I've been writing about the song, at three decades later, Batdance seems like it perfectly predicted the era of viral videos and how to market a superhero franchise with a meme-ready production.
29/47,619 With its frenetic editing & many Easter eggs, Batdance’s video feels like it was made for the meme era. https://t.co/lzNRNYqFIU— anildash (@anildash) August 25, 2017
An amusing bit of trivia: Batdance was directed by Albert Magnoli, who had, a little over 5 years earlier, also directed Purple Rain.
Given how successful the Batman project was commercially, and how much Prince had invested in creating characters like Gemini, it's not surprising we saw his Batman universe continue into another video. The song was in some ways a pastiche of 1999 (which it had replaced in the Batman film), but given its prominence in scenes with Jack Nicholson, it was a no-brainer to choose for a single.
The scope and scale are astounding for a Prince video — there are countless extras, and from the minute Prince walks in (whistling "The Arms of Orion", also from the Batman soundtrack), the stakes keep going up. There's Joker-level mayhem throughout, Prince shows off his (genuine) ability to play a piano while lying on top of it, and just a year after Michael Jackson had ended part of his Moonwalker home video by pretending to balk at Bubbles the chimp wearing a Prince t-shirt, the Partyman video features... a chimp.
Now up, Prince’s most elaborate video ever: the extended version of Partyman, which includes this playful nod to MJ. https://t.co/WaEGGyrPUl pic.twitter.com/4nefvtSUux— anildash (@anildash) September 1, 2017
Though MTV only ever aired the single edit of the clip, the extended version is now widely available to stream, and it does full justice to the full madness Prince had pictured for the song. And though the song closes with a title saying, "This ain't over..." (or まだ終わりじゃないよ) it's sadly the last we'd see of Gemini in a video.
Again veering from a massive production to something intimate and seductive, we come to one of Prince's very best seduction ballads, Scandalous. This clip clearly sets the stage for what D'Angelo would escalate a decade later with Untitled, though Prince appears here in a red jumpsuit instead of his birthday suit.
Though it's his most minimal video ever, employing just some simple lights, a microphone stand, and creative editing of Prince's solo performance, it perfectly suits the song and sets the song apart from not just its placement on a superhero soundtrack, but the rest of Prince's entire catalog. It's no wonder this was one of the rare times when a shot from a video became the cover of the single it was meant to promote.
Thieves In The Temple
Though the lead single for "Graffiti Bridge" was a decent hit, nothing about the radio version of the single hinted at the weirdness of the fully-extended music video, which goes meta towards the end, with Prince watching video footage he directed himself, overlaid at times with a strange and nearly context-free text screed. Despite the admittedly low production values at times, it's fascinating and hints at how Prince was taking greater control in his work at the time, going fully independent with his media creation within Paisley Park.
(The much more common short version of the video is available, of course.)
New Power Generation
Similar to how the video for "Purple Rain" is just a clip of that performance sequence from the film, this is just a nearly-exact excerpt of how the song appeared within the Graffiti Bridge film. This is a little more obviously filmed on the sound stage at Paisley Park, and even includes extras from the set pretending to be band members for Prince, lending the entire proceedings an unusual sense of contrivance in a way that Prince generally tried to avoid.
The Question Of U
Given that the song was never even released as a single, it's no surprise that "The Question Of U" was one of Prince's rarest videos. It's a scintillating live performance from the 1990 Nude tour's stop in Tokyo, a stand of shows that Prince long cited for how much he appreciated the respectful and enthusiastic response from the crowd.
Gett Off marked a resurgence in Prince's career, not just after the uneven commercial success of the prior few years, but for the warm embrace that MTV offered to his new era, starting with a video that still makes obvious why it caused a scandal at the time.
Gett Off (Houstyle)
The early 90s saw a rise in major pop artists reacting to the splintering of radio formats by releasing remixes for nearly every major audience. But while some artists cynically chased trends with phoned-in remixes, Prince characteristically used it as a chance to let his muse fly, creating entire EPs worth of musical suites touching on every popular dance genre of the era. As this was also the dawn of Prince's most experimental phase of his career for distribution, packaging and formats, we saw a genuine cornucopia of Gett Off releases.
A rush-released video compilation (described as a video maxi-single) included full videos for every remix of the song, beginning with this house mix of the song.
Violet The Organ Grinder
Though it starts from a musical bed that's a remix of Gett Off, Violet the Organ Grinder is its own complete (and delightful!) song, with a distinct and perverse video vibe all its own. Truly a hidden gem amongst the wave of Gett Off videos.
Moving even further afield into Gett Off remixes, we get what is essentially a home video of Prince goofing off with his bandmates (and the requisite bevy of beautiful young women) around the pool at his house and in various parts of Paisley Park. You can notice that Chanhassen (where Prince lived and worked at the time) was still fairly undeveloped and the area around the studio still looked like empty fields.
Oh and, uh... Prince wears a bikini with suspenders while rollerskating around his pool.
Clockin’ The Jizz
This is more the closing credits for the Gett Off maxi-video single than it is its own song, but it repeats the "watching Prince watch his home movies" meta-weirdness that we first saw in the extended video for Thieves in the Temple the prior year. Good if you like Prince being very weird.
Though it's seldom the first Prince song that people think of as one of his biggest hits, Cream was actually a rare number one single for Prince, and the video was a big part of the reason why. Strongly supported by MTV, and featuring a lot more obvious production and choreography than a lot of Prince's more bare-bones home video clips of the era, Cream is a charmer despite (because of?) its salacious undertones.
(This is one of those videos that has a short edit, which omits all of the introductory drama.)
Diamonds And Pearls
Perhaps Prince's most elegantly-shot video, the clip for Diamonds and Pearls is ethereal and sweet, a stark contrast to the unabashed ribaldry of the Gett Off video and the still-pretty-horny energy of Cream. We'd never seen Prince blowing bubbles and smiling at kids before, and the dreaminess of the visuals held up so well that many later video montages used elements of this clip to show Prince's more romantic side.
Money Don't Matter 2 Night (Spike Lee version)
As Prince responded to the political environment of the early 90s, with war on the rise and the economy in decline, he connected with Spike Lee (whose Malcolm X Prince had helped fund) and asked him to do a video for his contemplative, mature "Money Don't Matter 2 Night". What resulted was Prince's most directly political, charged video to that point, taking the straight text of "Sign O' The Times" to the next level with Lee's characteristic direct-to-camera address.
Money Don't Matter 2 Night (performance version)
Before Lee's version of "Money Don't Matter" was filmed, Prince had shot videos for most of the songs on Diamonds and Pearls, and this "performance" version of the song shows off the band to great effect, albeit without the directness of Lee's video.
Though the Diamonds and Pearls video collection includes a video for this song, it oddly is just the album track for the song overlaid on a live performance from London. Here's that live performance instead.
Clearly filmed with the same "let's make dirty home movies" attitude that informed so many of the Gett Off remixes, Randee St. Nicholas returns to film Prince carrying out exactly what people imagined he'd be doing at Paisley Park.
Willing And Able
Another delightful-but-undersung album cut from Diamonds and Pearls, this song has the odd distinction of perhaps being one of Prince's most-seen videos of all time, despite not having even been released as a single. The track was played in the introduction to the Super Bowl in 1992, airing in front of one of the largest audeinces who'd ever see a Prince clip, until his own Super Bowl halftime performance in 2007.
Interestingly, this clip from the Diamonds and Pearls video collection isn't really available online; that's not too much of a loss since it's just an excerpt of the song and is almost more skit than music video.
Call The Law
This is more an NPG song than a Prince song (perhaps why it was relegated to a b-side) but the video is notable for showing far more of Paisley Park than had been seen publicly to that point.
Live 4 Love
A pretty good live performance video from the final London show of the Diamonds and Pearls tour.
Another really fun example of Prince going completely off the plan to make a video on his own, well before his record company was done promoting the prior Diamonds and Pearls album, and rush-released as a video single after he dropped the song as a birthday present to himself in 1992.
It continues a few of his fascinations from the era, including filming his cars and his garage at Paisley Park. This clip also set the stage for his increasing proclivity for filming a video for every song on an album, whether they were going to be released as singles or not.
2 Whom It May Concern
This was the first time Prince did a video for one of his favorite conceits, creating music montages that sampled all the songs on an album as a promo for buying that record. Worth watching just to hear Prince say, "On Paisley Park/Warner Brothers CD and cassette". It was clearly shot after most of the other music videos for the Love Symbol album, since it includes excerpts of them, but it was early enough in the promo cycle for the album that the DJ booth that Prince is sitting at has the older version of his signature symbol.
My Name Is Prince
Having just signed a mega-deal with Warner Brothers, Prince was definitely determined to put their money to use, with a series of expensive videos for the new Love Symbol album kicking off with this elaborate production that includes video vignettes with Kirstie Alley, a staged riot, and a lot of shots of a flaming barrell in an alley.
Love 2 The 9's
This was never a single, despite being a standout song on the Love Symbol album. But after a few decades, putting Mayte Garcia (later Prince's first wife) in an abaya before having her strip down so she can "make that booty boom" makes it pretty difficult to appreciate the musical merit of the track.
The Morning Papers
This is a great pop rock song, especially if you pretend you don't notice the lyrics are very obviously about an age-inappropriate relationship, but to me this video has always been the one where we saw grunge music rise to such incredible cultural impact that Prince actually wears a flannel vest under his normal Prince clothes in the video.
There's a nearly-incoherent storyline to the Love Symbol album (it's a mishmash of Kirstie Alley dialogue and Prince being cryptic on the phone) and the appearance of more of that storyline threatens to derail the video for The Max, but it's saved by lots of fun performance clips, both from the studio and from live shows that Prince and the NPG did in 1992. (Weirdly, the audio for the clip is the album track with fake audience noise dubbed on top.)
A rare reggae (-ish) song in Prince's catalog, it's a shame the video isn't as distinct, suffering from some of the sameness for a lot of the Love Symbol videos, with a lot of similar footage cut into a fun-but-slight set of vignettes of Prince and Mayte cavorting about in footage that's tinted, what else, blue.
They did manage to avoid illustrating Prince's mention of Evian with a literal bottle of water, though!
Eye Wanna Melt With U
This one was never played on MTV or anywhere else, due to the inexplicable inclusion of a number brief shots of nude models in the video. Prince really liked this song (it was the last added to the album, and he cut some segues to make it fit) so he apparently went all-out for the video, bringing back the roller skates from the Gangster Glam video, adding in a golden Phantom of the Opera mask and a few same-sex kisses that would have been moderately scandalous to pop audiences who were seeing the release of Madonna's Sex Book the same year.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from "Eye Wanna Melt With U" is the innocence of "Sweet Baby", musically of a piece with mid-tempo tracks from the era like "Money Don't Matter 2 Night", and visually looking like an ad for a travel agency.
This one's another semi-live performance video. Returning to the Tokyo Dome (where 1990's "Question of U" video was made), Prince shows his continued appreciation for his Japanese fans with a concert video that includes a lot of footage of Prince and the band tooling around Tokyo. (Also includes obligatory footage of Prince and a hot model.)
The coda to the song features a rap (🥴) by Carmen Electra, who had an album released on Prince's label that year. This is her only appearance in a Prince video, though she literally phones in her participation in the clip.
This is nice, a little performance video on the stage at Paisley Park.
Prince clearly ascribed a ton of meaning to this video; it formed both the album cover art for the Love Symbol album as well as the cornerstone of the (barely coherent) narrative arc of both the album and its accompanying video collection. The kids playing young versions of Prince and Mayte are cute!
This is a very stripped down studio performance, but it's clear that Prince and his minimal band are having a lot of fun playing this track that would later become a staple of his live sets.
This was the first of what would become a string of Prince "videos" that were actually just montages of old footage that labels cut together to promote new songs when they came out. It's fine for what it is.
Nothing Compares 2 U
This is a weird one, it's a combination of archive footage of Prince alongside live footage from the 1991 performance at Paisley Park that was released on Prince's 1993 greatest hits box set.
Days Of Wild
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Beautiful)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Mustang Mix)
When 2 R In Love
Eye Hate U
Rock 'N Roll Is Alive! (And It Lives In Minneapolis)
Dinner With Delores
The Same December
I Like It There
Betcha By Golly Wow!
The Holy River
The Greatest Romance Ever Sold
How Wit U (Nasty Girl Remix)
U Make My Sun Shine
When Eye Lay My Hands On U
The Daisy Chain
Call My Name
Te Amo Corazón
The Song of the Heart
(There's a totally different version that's a Verizon ad, too.)