Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thriller vs Purple Rain

Jackson could dance, oh yes, and his film clips were well produced and engaging, but in Year 8 / Year 9 at the time of Thriller's release I was more a Prince fan than a Michael Jackson fan. As far as black solo artists were concerned, young teenagers at the time had to pick one in a Holden vs Ford manner. I was in the Prince camp. Purple Rain was guilty of self-aggrandising twaddle, and the film was fucking shithouse, but I dunno, the music had edge. So just like St. Kilda vs Geelong this week - two unbeatable titans up against each other - allow me to pitch these two mammoth records against each other.

First Quarter
'When Doves Cry' vs 'Billie Jean'

One is about a relationship breakup, one is about a false relationship and paternity claim. Both have random 'yeeep' and 'hoo' squeals to punctuate the lyrics.

Both rely on a very basic thump-shuffle beat with stripped back music in the verses, then a catchy singalong anthemic chorus. However, once we get past the first chorus of BJ, there's not much to look forward to. It just stays the same, unless you happen to be watching the film clip where you have the moonwalk to look forward to, whereas WDC has the arpeggio synth build up in the final verse and chorus.

BJ has more vocal range, but WDC has better lyrics. WDC also boasts a more global theme (we've all had relationship failures, and not so many paternity confusions).

Winner: When Doves Cry

Second Quarter
'Let's Go Crazy' vs 'Beat It'

These are the more upbeat rockier songs from the albums. LGC is about living life to the fullest and being a bit reckless because yo' gunna die 1 day, and BI is about trusting in your own strengths and not letting yourself be bossed about. Both reasonable themes for a song.

BI is a very tidy pop-rock song, again with the polished film clip with great dancing. It's got a great stupid chorus that 14 year old boys can sing along to while punching the air, and with it's kind 'gang in da hood' feel it's delightfully rough n tough, while still being safe.

LGC is kinda more sleazy than tough, and Prince, obviously keen to show off his music talents, muddies the song with way too many instrumental quirks, but where he gets an edge on MJ is with the 'sermon' at the start complete which church organ (and that distinctive Prince beat kicking in after about 45 seconds) and that awesome fucking outro where his guitar solo is so fucking rock ... Led Zep and Hendrix would be proud to have composed it.

In body, maybe BI wins the battle, but as a whole piece, LGC wins.

Winner: Let's Go Crazy

Third Quarter
'Thriller' vs 'Purple Rain'

Though they are very different musically, they need to go head to head because they are a) The title tracks and b) The epics of each album.

Thriller is about monsters in the dark (with sexual undertones) and PR is about trying to keep a relationship together.

Yet again, both with the epic choruses, but Thriller is to dance to, where as PR is all about swaying your cigarette lighter in the air.

As a lighter-sway song, PR does the trick, and 'Purple' rain is an intriguing visual, but when it comes to intruguing visuals you can't beat monsters comin' at ya in the dark. Add to that, even I remember being totally hooked on the Thriller film clip when I first saw it in its entirety (I would've been about 13).

I'm not such a big fan of the Thriller chorus though... it's a bit lame after such a good build up, but then again, Purple Rain goes on just a little bit too long. Prince made his point early, and gives us nothing more other than endless chorus repetition.

Winner: Thriller

Fourth Quarter
'The Beautiful Ones' vs 'The Lady In My Life'

This is the battle of the slow love songs. Both are boring as batshit and ruin both albums. These are the ones you skip over. Lyrics are also awful.


And I Will Keep You Warm
Through The Shadows Of The Night
Let Me Touch You With My Love
I Can Make You Feel So Right
And Baby Through The Years
Even When We're Old And Gray
I Will Love You More Each Day
'Cause You Will Always Be The Lady In My Life

From TBO:

Paint a perfect picture
Bring 2 life a vision in one's mind
The beautiful ones
Always smash the picture
Always everytime
If I told u baby
That I was in love with u
Oh baby, baby, baby
If we got married
Would that be cool?
U make me so confused
The beautiful ones
U always seem 2 lose

Which is worse? I'm not sure. Both should be arrested. Both of them go for an excrutiating 5 minutes as well. But, I'm going to have to give the nod to Prince, mainly because he at least gives us that sonic boom-beat to hook on to during the song, and if you were going to have a shag while listening to these two songs, you'd probably go Prince because he at least sounds like he knows what he's talking about, whereas MJ is not convincing as a Romeo figure.

Winner: The Beautiful Ones


Obviously, Jackson's presence in world culture is bigger, and his influce on music history is also a lot bigger - he is largely responsible for the so-called 'RnB' genre that sullies pop music today, with its vocal gymnastics, compulsory dance proficiency and lame, lame lyrical content. But on music alone, Prince wins in my mind.

But I would like to point out that back in 82-84 at High School, there were other pop artists that were comparable. Madonna, obviously, but whack in Culture Club and Duran Duran as well, even Frankie Goes To Hollyood, The Police, and of all of the above, in hindsight, FGTH had the most innovative sound.

But let's also not forget that I grew up in Australia, and I tell you this (and Lewd Bob, who went to Generic High with me may agree): no bands at our school were bigger or more adored than Chisels, Oils, INXS and Angels. If they weren't in your Top 5, you got beaten up.


kitten said...

I am firmly in the Prince camp.

And from my personal collection in the 80's I would have to add The Cure, Madness, Tears for Fears, Alison Moyet and Bon Jovi.

Perseus said...

Oh yes, at the time I was also leaning towards The Cure, New Order, Talking Heads... but they were not as mainstream or as massive at Generic High as Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson, or even Midnight Oil and Chisels.

Springsteen's 'Born In The USA' was around that time as well. That was fucking massive, but I never got into it.

Lewd Bob had the 'Dancing in the Dark' 12"!

ToneMasterTone said...

Although the albums that broke them were Thriller and Purple Rain respectively, their earlier albums were better.

Off the Wall is better than Thriller, and 1999, Dirty Mind and perhaps Controversy are better than Purple Rain I would strongly argue.

Later, of course, Prince made Parade and Sign of the Times, both of which I would argue are better albums than Purple Rain.

And I can't believe you mentioned Beautiful Ones without praising to high heaven the ridiculously good outro that has Prince going on about "Do you want him? Do you want me? Because I want you." That's the best singing Prince has ever done in his career!

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Nebraska was better.

Desci said...

I think this is my favourite TSFKA post ever.

Also, When Doves Cry is one of my favourite songs. Especially when it's left well alone by wiggly-voiced chubby black kids, Quindon Tarver.

Perseus said...

TmT: Yes, 'Controversy' and 'Dirty Mind' are my two favourite Prince albums, and I'm even a fan of the often maligned 'Lovesexy'. The ending of 'Beautiful Ones' is a bit cheesy, and anyway, I can rarely get to the end of the song.

Desci: Gee, you're easily pleased. Wait til you see my forthcoming battle royales - Cats vs Dogs, Princess Di vs Princess Mary and Lasagne vs Pizza.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

England vs. Australia.

First Test starts next Wednesday.

Perseus said...

The Ashes and Tour de France.... sporting heaven. Cannot wait.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I expect long, detailed posts on each day's play.

Pepsi said...

Depeche Mode were huge then too weren’t they?

I always though Prince was the real musician and MJ was the entertainer, though they both went a bit odd in the end.

Speaking of Prince, did any of you folk get to see the Bennetts Lane show in 2003?

I'll miss the first test unfortunately, I’ll be on a beach in Langkawi somewhere.

I’ll just call out my post match comment already, “Sack the Captain”.

kitten said...

I was also going to add Bruce Springsteen, but only because its the first album I remember making out to (it was his music not mine). But on that basis I have to give special mention to George Michael's Faith as being another memorable soundtrack to my love life ....

So what was the first album you remember making out/fucking to?

Perseus said...

My first pash was at the cinema: 'Beastmaster.'

wari lasi said...

At the risk of agreeing with Desci, nice post Pers. Your depth of knowledge on this stuff is impressive.

I'm not much of a muso, but whilst acknowledging MJ's obvious talent, I think Prince (isn't he called something weird like some symbol now?) was the better musician. Hasn't he also written songs for heaps of other people, like Celine Dion? I dunno, just something I remember reading. His stuff just seems more "complex".

That said, they're both (well one was) really fucking strange. Must come with genius I suppose.

Fad MD said...

Nebraska was better.


No real music sticks in my head as the first pash or anything, but I do remember doing a lot of nasty stuff to Dark Sid of the Moon. But I think I'vealready outed myself as a Floyd freak.

Perseus said...

The nastiest thing I've done during Dark Side Of The Moon is complained that it's Floyd's most over-rated album other than The Wall.

Give me Meddle and Animals any day.

Melba said...

Agreed. Prince was my choice of, er, may-un, versus Michael. Loved that album. But can I say here and now: I hate Talking Heads. Always have. Always will.

Also, I'll take suggestions, please, for what to cook as a main for a French-inspired Tour Dinner Party me and mine have every year? Lapin is out, as is boeuf de bourgignon.

Thanking you.

Anonymous said...

Also, I'll take suggestions, please, for what to cook as a main for a French-inspired Tour Dinner Party me and mine have every year?

French Toast. Absolute winner.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Cook what the French eat, when they eat out.

Pizza or Vietnamese.

Perseus said...

Eat what the Tour de France cyclists eat. Steroids and gatorade.

Melba said...

Thanks you guys. Really helpful.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Our pleasure, Melba.

Now you can discuss "third period communism" while you tuck into your pizza and spring rolls with added steroids

Mr E Discharge said...

Hasn't he also written songs for heaps of other people, like Celine Dion?

Wouldn't be nice to live in a world where you could have a thread about Music without some cunt mentioning Celine Dion?

Just once?

Melba said...

You're trying to solicit more comments for the failed mid-week history lesson over here, Ramon?

OK then. To help you out, because you helped me with the French dinner, I'll go and leave a comment. Or a question.

Happy now?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...


wari lasi said...

Wouldn't be nice to live in a world where you could have a thread about Music without some cunt mentioning Celine Dion?

Sorry Mr E. I didn't say I was a fan, just that I thought Prince wrote something for her.

I'll go now

Perseus said...

Prince wrote "Nothing Compares 2 U" for Sinead O'Connor, and "Manic Monday" for The Bangles.

The Bangles were shit, but that Susanna Hoffs chick was freaking hot.

Louche said...

Melba - Boeuf Bourguignon, try Stephanie Alexander's recipe if you have The Cook's Companion.

Prince is the superior musician, however Michael had more kid cachet in the 80s when I was 8 and he was at his prime.

Pepsi said...

The Bangles were shit

I always liked their Big Star cover.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Tractor poem tomorrow, BTW.

patchouligirl said...

Melba, what about Coq au vin? and Pommes gratin dauphinois. I make these often (even though I probably can't spell them). And crepes for dessert.

shitbmxrider said...

All this mention of 80's music, and no praise of the Synth-pop stylings of Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones?

For shame!

Melba said...

I had thought of the coq au, PG, might do that. And those potatoes too, yum. Louche, thanks for the suggestion, but we've done the beouf many a time. Yes, from the Stephanie book. It's a good one. Yum.

Yum. We have some left-over Green Fairy from a couple of years ago. Hope she's travelled well.


Leilani said...

I loved Prince and Michael Jackson equally (although the Off the Wall years were my faves) and I won't hear of the two of them having to duke it out. Although a physical tussle between the two of them would no doubt look like a girly slap fight. And a little Weekend at Bernie's now one of them is dead.

Melba, what about a cassoulet? Can be prepared ahead of time and is delicious. Also something along the meringue lines for dessert. I have a great recipe for a hazelnut torte that is always a winner. Although I think that one might be German.

And happy belated birthday Perseus. My last birthday was of equal significance and I had the best party ever. I'd throw another one next time if I could only afford it.

Anonymous said...

I believe Prince and Michael Jackson mated with each other to produce two of Jackson's kids, Prince Michael Jackson and Prince Michael Jackson II (aka Blanket).

Lewd Bob said...

If that were the case Boogey, then they would have named them The Kid Formerly Known As Michael I and TKFKAM II.