“Mommy…why’s everybody got a bomb?”
Back when I was in high school, I must have heard “1999” about a thousand times. Why? Because I went to high school in 1999, obviously. So naturally it was played at dances and pep rallies and whatever else. And you probably did to. It’s kind of a gimme.
But it also took on a sort of sinister tone, as there was some pre-millennium anxiety running rampant, what with the Y2K scare and doomsday predictions coming out of the woodwork. And, naturally, “1999” is about the end of the world. It’s the funkiest, sexiest song about doomsday ever written, but still, it’s about the endtimes.
Listening to it today, I get a sense of comfort, in a way. Released in 1982, “1999” reflected anxieties about a nuclear holocaust brought about through Cold War conflicts between the U.S. and the then-USSR. And this wasn’t the first time Prince alluded to the Cold War. 1981’s Controversy had a song called “Ronnie Talk to Russia.” And Dirty Mind, from a year before, ended with a song called “Partyup” in which Prince chants, “You’re gonna have to fight your own damn war/ ‘Cause we don’t wanna fight no more.” So, clearly this was something that was on his mind a lot.
It’s kind of on all of our minds right now, since our president is an irresponsible man-child with no impulse control and a penchant for baiting nuclear-armed countries into Twitter battles. It’s…unsettling. But hey, it’s also not the first time we’ve been in this weird position, even if before the situation was a bit different.
Prince’s solution, naturally, is to say “hey, we’re gonna die, might as well party.” And 1999 is equal parts party and mortality. It’s in a sense where the whole complex Prince figure comes together into one cohesive whole. There’s a lot of sex. To the contrary, some religion too. And there’s a lot of doomsday anxiety. Most of all, though, there’s a lot of funk. Synth-heavy funk at that. If you can’t dance to these songs, you are definitely doing it wrong. In fact, “DMSR” (which stands for Dance Music Sex Romance) is one of my favorite songs to play when I DJ. So. Damn. Funky.
In fact, pretty much every song here is outstanding. The whole first side—”1999,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Delirious”—is all hits. So yeah, there are worse ways to spend the endtimes than listening to 1999.
Sound Quality: Great