Jul 11, 2010

Prince and the old power generation: how TAFKATAFKAP's 20TEN doesn't make me LOL

So Prince has given away his new album via a newspaper whilst pronouncing a death sentence on the internet, that great enemy of old-school journalism?

Nice. The Daily Mirror has shoe-horned plenty of pre-release publicity into its rag, one example of which was an "interview" by Peter Willis which reaffirmed by belief that all old rock stars need euthanising, or at the very least, pickling alive.

It's not Willis that got me riled per se. An associate editor (or whatever he is) is bound to toe the newspaper's grubby little line. This is the same man who once followed orders to post a story claiming Michael Jackson thought he might catch Aids from the Blarney Stone.

But that didn't stop me going paisly purple with rage as I read his "rare insight" that proferred no insight other than, yes, TAFKATAFKAP is loopier than the symbol that used to represent him.

Prince, says Willis, is "a living legend who has sold more than 100 million albums over 30 years." Point of order: I doubt he's at the 100 million mark yet; if you know the figure, do leave a comment below. A few years ago, he had notched up 80 million sales, which means he is outsold by many including Cher, Chicago and Julio Iglesias.


While we're on sales, his 2006 album 3121 sold only 80,000 copies, while his follow-ups have numbered in the hundreds of thousands. It's hardly stratospheric. Oh, plus the few million more given free with newspapers and now lying in the billion-tonne pile of unrecycled plastic clogging up our planet.

Sorry, dwarfman, I'm filling your head with numbers, and that can't be good for you.

He is a legend, but he is a legend frozen in time. His last three albums have garnered an average Pitchfork review of 5.2, so I'm seriously doubtful it's a "return to his early blistering form which captivated millions of fans around the world".

I might be wrong: I haven't let the album soil my ears yet. It could be his best album for 23 years, putting his comeback "on a par with Elvis reinventing himself in Las Vegas in 1968." Not my words: I hope Tony Parsons' review was in no way biased.

He has now released 19 consecutive singles (Prince, not Tony) without hitting the UK top 40. The run of failure is even longer in the US. Compare that with the culturally-reviled Cliff Richard whose singles still consistently chart well. Where are your fans, Prince?


Ah yes, the fans, the millions of captivated fans mentioned in Willis' piece.

Unofficial fan site Prince.org has less than 4,000 active members. As for his official sites, Prince's history is checkered. You'll already know about the Webby award preceding the closure of his New Power Generation Music Club. But do you remember his paid membership site LotusFlow3r which was, by all accounts, enough to make a dove cry?

These says, he has no official website. In short, it's not the internet that is over: it is Prince's love for his fans.

The short lilac duke will do well from this album, no doubt because of the hype from impotent bloggers such as myself. But before you reach for any one of the dozens of files already on Rapidshare for this "newspaper-only" album, think on this...

Here's a man who declared "all these computers and digital gadgets are no good", instead placing his trust in the purital worldview of an autocratic organisation that abuses its members. He consistently refused to answer Peter Willis' questions and at one point even grabs his wrist to stop him writing. Man of the people, Mr Rogers Nelson.


And you should see his documentary collection. Does Prince truly buy into the hard-line evangelical Christian view about Hurricane Katrina being the fault of a sinful America? It's alluded to - only just - in the Daily Mirror interview, but for some reason, Willis doesn't push him on it. Oh... wait... um...

He needs to be asked these questions because that kind of pop despot personality weirdness belongs to a wacko-Jacko land that has no place in our new-power internet world of shallow-and-wide fanship, that fabled world of tweety democracy that offers few all-dominating cultural heroes (and when it does, they're quickly stamped out, euthanised and, indeed, pickled).

One last guilty thought about Prince, who is no doubt scanning this on his Google reader whilst chucking quietly at his anti-internet public persona. I do feel quite bad. A closed-minded electronic music blogger slagging off the symbolian sexmuppet? It's like shooting fish in barrel.

Sorry about that, but to be honest, you harpooned yourself, you paisley berk.


Adrian Slatcher said...

I'm not sure what you're getting so annoyed about. Prince left the mainstream along time ago, and his most recent records have been mainly for long term fans. Since (the excellent) 3121 his work has been listenable, but hardly groundbreaking. Like Paul McCartney or Elvis Costello or any number of artists who were once mega, his new records are bought by a small group of fans who quite like to hear what he's up to. He could certainly sell a lot more records if he reissued his back catalogue sympathetically - but seems uninterested in revisiting the past. Given that his last album was only released in the US, and so cost me a bit on import from eBay, getting it for under a quid with the mirror is certainly an improvement. Funniest thing is that the Mirror (as did the Mail beforehand - don't forget) thinks its getting something of value when its likely its UK sales would be in the tens of thousands at best. If you like Prince, you'll like the new album, but there's no great return to the blistering six album sequence between 1999 and Lovesexy. I'd love it if he collaborated with someone - got a decent producer in - issued a cracking live album/boxset - raided the vaults for a deluxe edition of Parade - but it seems he isn't going to. Having done the free trick twice with 2 different newspapers I'm not sure if he can/will do it again. It certainly won't be cheap for the newspapers themselves. It seems, apart from the CD-to-landfill thing (which is hardly Prince's fault), there's nothing much worth getting worked up about.

anclove said...

I'm with Fats on this one. The man is a cartoon character.

Fat Roland said...

B Runner - You're right, of course. It's not worth getting worked up about, which is why I describe myself as "impotent" in the piece. My rage is undirected and useless, a bit like Prince's music itself.

I do wonder why the Mirror and the Mail (I had mentioned his previous freebie but it got cut in the final edit) think this free CD thing is such a great idea. It must work for them, though, otherwise they wouldn't do it. Same for Prince.

If the Chilis can do Californication, Kylie can do Light Years and Bowie can do, um, Earthling, surely Prince can reinvent himself and become interesting again.

Prince and Jamie Lidell. *That's* a collaboration that needs to happen. Seriously: it's not too much of a stretch to imagine A Little Bit More with Prince's vocals.

Tim Footman said...

“...but it got cut in the final edit”

Blimey, you do take this blogging lark seriously, innit? ;-)

Fat Roland said...

Three drafts this one. THREE BLOODY DRAFTS. In real journalism, that would have been twenty drafts and a pissed off sub-ed.