Controversy (Prince album)

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Controversy
Studio album by Prince
Released October 14, 1981
Recorded Uptown, Sunset Sound, Hollywood Sound, 1981
Genre Funk, pop, new wave
Length 37:15
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Prince
Prince chronology
Dirty Mind
(1980)
Controversy
(1981)
1999
(1982)
Singles from Controversy
  1. "Controversy"
    Released: September 2, 1981
  2. "Let's Work"
    Released: January 6, 1982
  3. "Do Me, Baby"
    Released: July 16, 1982
  4. "Sexuality"
    Released: 1982

Controversy is the fourth studio album by American recording artist Prince. It was released on October 14, 1981, by Warner Bros. Records.

Music and lyrics[edit]

According to Blender magazine's Keith Harris, Controversy is "Prince's first attempt to get you to love him for his mind, not just his body", as it "refines the propulsive funk of previous albums and adds treatises on religion, work, nuclear war and Abscam."[1] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic also remarked on its music in how it "continues in the same vein of new wave-tinged funk on Dirty Mind, emphasizing Prince's fascination with synthesizers and synthesizing disparate pop music genres".[2]

Controversy begins with its title track, which raises questions that were being asked about him at the time, including his race and sexuality. The song "flirts with blasphemy" by including a chant of The Lord's Prayer. "Do Me, Baby" is an "extended bump-n-grind" ballad with explicitly sexual lyrics, and "Ronnie, Talk to Russia" is a politically charged plea to President Ronald Reagan. "Private Joy" is a bouncy bubblegum pop-funk tune, "showing off Prince's lighter side", followed by the "childlike treatment of evil" in "Annie Christian", which lists historical events such as the murder of African-American children in Atlanta and the death of John Lennon. The album's final song, "Jack U Off", is a synthesized rockabilly-style track.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[2]
Blender 4/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A−[4]
Entertainment Weekly B+[5]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[6]
Spin (8/10)[7]
Virgin Encyclopedia 3/5 stars[8]

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, music critic Stephen Holden wrote that "Prince's first three records were so erotically self-absorbed that they suggested the reveries of a licentious young libertine. On Controversy, that libertine proclaims unfettered sexuality as the fundamental condition of a new, more loving society than the bellicose, overtechnologized America of Ronald Reagan." He went on to say, "Despite all the contradictions and hyperbole in Prince's playboy philosophy, I still find his message refreshingly relevant."[3] Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic in a generally favorable review for The Village Voice, in which he wrote that its "socially conscious songs are catchy enough, but they spring from the mind of a rather confused young fellow, and while his politics get better when he sticks to his favorite subject, which is s-e-x, nothing here is as far-out and on-the-money as 'Head' or 'Sister' or the magnificent 'When You Were Mine.'"[4]

Controversy was voted the eighth best album of the year in the 1981 Pazz & Jop, an annual critics poll run by The Village Voice.[9]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written, composed, and arranged by Prince

Side one
  1. "Controversy" – 7:15
  2. "Sexuality" – 4:21
  3. "Do Me, Baby" – 7:43
Side two
  1. "Private Joy" – 4:29
  2. "Ronnie, Talk to Russia" – 1:58
  3. "Let's Work" – 3:54
  4. "Annie Christian" – 4:22
  5. "Jack U Off" – 3:09

Personnel[edit]

  • Lisa Coleman - backing vocals (on "Controversy", "Ronnie Talk to Russia" and "Jack U Off"), keyboards ("Jack U Off")
  • Dr. Fink - keyboards ("Jack U Off")
  • Bobby Z. - drums ("Jack U Off")
  • All other vocals and instruments performed by Prince.

[10]

Singles and Hot 100 chart placings[edit]

  1. "Controversy"
  2. "When You Were Mine"
  1. "Let's Work"
  2. "Ronnie, Talk 2 Russia"
  3. "Gotta Stop (Messin' About)" (U.S. 12")
  1. "Do Me, Baby"
  2. "Private Joy"
  • "Sexuality" (German/Japan/Australia single)
  1. "Sexuality"
  2. "Controversy" (DEU, JAP)
  3. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" (AUS)

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United Kingdom (BPI)[11] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[12] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart Position
Australian Kent Music Report[13] 55
U.S. Billboard 200[14] 21
U.S. Billboard R&B Albums[14] 3

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1982) Position
U.S. Billboard Pop Albums[15] 59

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Harris, Keith (June–July 2001). "Every Original CD Reviewed - Prince". Blender (Alpha Media Group) (1). 
  2. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Prince: Controversy at AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2011 (2011-09-15).
  3. ^ a b c Holden, Stephen (January 21, 1982). "Prince: Controversy". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media) (RS 361). ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (November 30) (New York). Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  5. ^ Browne, David (September 21, 1990). "Purple Products". Entertainment Weekly (Time) (#32). ISSN 1049-0434. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  6. ^ Hoard (2004), p. 655. Portions posted at "Prince: Album Guide". RollingStone.com. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  7. ^ Weisbard, Eric (October 10, 1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide (1st ed.). Vintage. ISBN 978-0-679-75574-6. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise 4 ed.). Virgin Books. ISBN 978-1-85227-923-3. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  9. ^ "The 1981 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice (February 1) (New York). 1982. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  10. ^ http://princevault.com/index.php/Album:_Controversy
  11. ^ "British album certifications – Prince – Controversy". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 2, 2014.  Enter Controversy in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  12. ^ "American album certifications – Prince – Controversy". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 2, 2013.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  13. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  14. ^ a b "Allmusic: Controversy : Charts & Awards: Billboard Albums". allmusic.com. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Billboard.BIZ: Top Pop Albums of 1982". billboard.biz. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2014. 

References[edit]

  • Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 

External links[edit]