“Purple Rain:” The Most Iconic Album of the 1980s?


The 1980s embodied a musical heyday: Artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Bon Jovi were in their primes. But one artist topped the rest with the release of their 6th studio album: Prince and “Purple Rain.” The album won multiple Grammies, held the top spot on the Billboard top 200 for 24 weeks, and even had a unique lasting impact: the implementation of the Parental Advisory stickers.

While the album itself is often touted as one of the best albums in history (Rolling Stones rated it 8th in their “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list), a number of the songs were incredibly well-received by critiques and audiences. The first song on the album, “Let’s Go Crazy,” peaked at number one in the pop charts and was played at Princes’ now-iconic Super Bowl halftime show. The rough, unaltered guitar contrasts the upbeat and pop-esque synths that were a staple on the album. The contrasting sounds give a unique feel that is both rock and pop, making the track one of the standouts on the album.

The sixth song off of the album, “When Doves Cry,” does something incredibly unique not only for Prince but also for the entire time period: it removes an overarching guitar and removes the bass entirely. This leaves the synths, the drums, and the vocals to carry the majority of the song. However, in the final minutes of the song, Prince’s signature guitar returns to have an intense riff. While risky, the song comes together and is another one of the centerpieces of the album.

The final track from the album is the album’s namesake, “Purple Rain.” Widely regarded as Prince’s best song, the guitar takes a lighter, more melodic approach, and the track as a whole is the most powerful on the entire album. The song in its entirety is nearly nine minutes long, with a mix of guitar, bass, piano, drums, and synths that revolutionized the pop music scene. The song is the most pivotal song of Prince’s illustrious career and is one of the best songs ever created.

This does raise the question the article presents: is it the iconic album of the 1980s? The unbelievable impact the album had on Prince, catapulting him into stardom and allowing his music career to truly take off. The album also had a more lasting impact, with the lyrics of “Darling Nikki” (the fifth song on the album) sparking outrage over their risqué lyrics. This led to the aforementioned implementation of Parental Advisory stickers on all albums with explicit content.

Prince is no doubt one of the most influential artists of the 1980s, and his impact reaches long after the end of the 1980s. Prince proved to the world that pop and rock can be mixed successfully and individually in a way that no other people could.