Prince: five self-penned classics

The prolific songwriter also created hits for others, friends and strangers. Here are five of the best.

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I Feel for You, Chaka Khan

Prince won a Grammy Award for this song in 1985, six years after he recorded it. I Feel for You was written for the jazz vocalist Patrice Rushen, who didn’t use it, so the song ended up on his eponymous 1979 album. But it eventually became a monster hit in 1984 for Chaka Khan, who was certainly well-connected – her version featured Stevie Wonder on harmonica and Melle Mel (from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) as the rapper.

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Manic Monday, The Bangles

In 1983, Prince created his own girl band, Vanity 6, which became Apollonia 6 when lead singer Vanity was replaced by actress/singer Apollonia. He wrote Manic Monday for them but decided that Apollonia’s voice was too weak to do the song justice, and instead offered it to Los Angeles girl band The Bangles. Their 1986 song differed markedly in tone from his demo but became the first of the band’s numerous hit singles.

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Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O’Connor

This enormous hit has an intriguing postscript. Nothing Compares 2 U was written for Prince’s side project, The Family, but remained little known until O’Connor covered it in 1990. That single became such a massive global smash that Prince invited the Irish singer to his house and – according to O’Connor – asked her to tone down her bad language in interviews, which resulted in an argument, then a physical fight.

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Love… Thy Will be Done, Martika

Californian singer Martika enjoyed a sizeable hit with her 1988 breakthrough single Toy Soldiers, but approaching Prince to work on her second album was still a bold move. Remarkably, it worked – he wrote and produced four songs on the 1991 record Martika’s Kitchen, including this spiritual ode to the “L” word, which started out as a spoken prayer. It secured her another hit – but the album was less successful and Martika faded.

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Sugar Walls, Sheena Easton

Sheena Easton was an unlikely muse for Prince, and this was an extraordinary change of direction for the squeaky-clean Scottish singer who rose to fame as a wide-eyed teenager on the BBC documentary series The Big Time in 1980, an early example of the reality-TV genre. Written under Prince’s pseudonym of Alexander Nevermind, Sugar Walls was a US top 10 hit in 1984.

Published: April 23, 2016 04:00 AM

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