Guest Blogger: Ronald Wielink
Like many my age, I enjoyed the ‘Purple Rain’ album and singles (even went to see the movie) but I pretty much skipped the ‘Around the World In a Day’ and ‘Parade’ era. I really got into Prince listening to a cassette tape of ‘Sign O’ The Times’ in 1987 that a friend of mine copied for me. I really enjoyed ‘Lovesexy’, went to see the tour (my first stadium concert ever) and by 1989 I could be counted as a member of the Prince army – from that point on Prince became a big part of my life. Not in a fanatic way, but more like an always present thing, a bit like a distant family member. So being the newly-converted fan I was in 1989, ‘Batman (Motion Picture Soundtrack)’, or briefly ‘Batman’, was my first highly anticipated Prince record as a Prince fan. Meaning that I went to the record store with before-mentioned friend to buy the album on the day of its release. Because yes, that’s how you got the new music. Things were quite different in that pre-internet era. The best way for me to describe it is “less information”. Less information about what’s happening in the Prince world. New music, legally and illegally, needed to be obtained in a physical format (copied on cassette or purchased). Of course there was also much less Prince than we have now – hardly any interviews and just the 11 albums from roughly the first decade of his career (but what a decade it was!). With Prince now passed away, things will be different. In this age, you can say that fandom is quite different. There has hardly been a day in the last years that passed with bits of information on things Paisley. With the final tour doing its rounds in Australia, New Zealand and North America, the tension and anticipation of “when will he come to Europe” was already building up. Similarly with the ever-present question of “when will the new album come”. Unfortunately the answer to both will now be “never”. Lacking that almost constant anticipation – it’s weird to know that that’s gone. And with Prince being the only artist I’m really a fan of, it’s gone for me forever. Back to today’s record.
I must admit that my memory is too bad to recall what I thought of the ‘Batman’ album almost 30 years ago but I’ve always really liked “Batdance”.
“Batdance” was a number one 1 hit in the USA, as well as a top 5 hit in other countries, in all fairness you can say it was helped by the marketing and publicity push of the Batman movie. Still, I guess you can say it’s an a-typical number one hit. It’s a bit of a weird song. It’s certainly not a medley, it’s some sort of a collage song, leaning heavily on “borrowing” from other songs on the ‘Batman’ album (“The Future” and “Electric Chair”), from the B-side of the same release here (“200 Balloons”) and from then-unreleased track (“Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic”). There are the groove changes and there’s very little in terms of original lyrics. Although the original lyrics that are there are memorable: “Keep Bustin'”, “Hey duckie, let me stick the 7 inch in the computer”. The borrowing and self-referencing is something that is a very Prince-like thing to do. There is the b-side “2 Whom it may concern” in which he is doing a similar thing. Also multiple songs on albums have a reference to the other songs of that album – “Push”, “New Powersoul” and “Ol’Skool Company”.
The B-side is a “classic” Prince B-side, not available on the ‘Batman’ album. A very nice funky tune. Prince has created many songs with number titles – this one specifically was inspired by the film and is a reference to the 200 years existence of Gotham City.
Which brings me back to the beginning of this post. A few weeks ago I watched the Batman film. Prince’s input is hardly noticeable: there are two songs and if you listen real carefully, there’s an instrumental theme based on “Scandalous”. On the other hand, on this album (and this song and its music video) Batman is all over the place. Apparently, the shows in 2016 started with the Batman Theme because that was the very first song he learned to play. I think that on some “deep” level, he had a strong connection with the entire Batman concept. With Prince gone, it’s a pity that we will never experience these type of “projects” as something new anymore.
The B Side:
The Billboard Charts:
|Chart||Debuted||Debut Pos.||Peak Pos.||Wks on Chart|
|Hot Black Singles||6/17/89||65||1||15|
|Top Rock/Album Rock Tracks||7/1/89||30||18||7|
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