1999 (Prince album)

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1999 cover.jpg
Studio album by Prince
Released October 27, 1982
Recorded 1982
Studio Kiowa Trail Home Studio
(Chanhassen, Minnesota)
Sunset Sound Recorders
(Hollywood, California)
Length 70:33
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Prince
Prince chronology
Purple Rain
Singles from 1999
  1. "1999"
    Released: September 24, 1982
  2. "Little Red Corvette"
    Released: February 9, 1983
  3. "Delirious"
    Released: August 17, 1983
  4. "DMSR"
    Released: 1983 (promo)
  5. "Let's Pretend We're Married"
    Released: August 1983[5]
  6. "Automatic"
    Released: November 23, 1983

1999 is the fifth studio album by American recording artist Prince. It was released on October 27, 1982, by Warner Bros. Records. 1999 was Prince's breakthrough album, but his next album, Purple Rain, would become his most successful. The title track was a protest against nuclear proliferation and became his first top ten hit in countries outside the United States. The album was his first top ten album on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States (peaking at number 9, besting that peak at number 7 after his death in 2016) and became the fifth best-selling album of 1983 overall, eventually being certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA.


The album's opening title track, "1999", was also its first single and initially peaked at number 41 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[6] It was subsequently re-released following the huge success of its follow-up single and 1999's second track, "Little Red Corvette", which peaked at number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Shortly after being reissued, "1999" hit number 12[7] and has since become one of Prince's most recognizable compositions. The music videos for both "1999" and "Little Red Corvette" were significant as two of the first videos by a black artist to receive heavy rotation on the newly launched music video channel, MTV. The two tracks were later combined as a double A-side single in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number 2. A subsequent single from the album and its third chronological track, the rockabilly-influenced "Delirious", still managed top ten status in the United States at number 8, but a fourth, the double-sided single "Let's Pretend We're Married"/"Irresistible Bitch", got no further than number 52.

While "Little Red Corvette" helped Prince cross over to the wider rock audience, the rest of 1999 retains the funk elements featured in previous albums and is dominated by the use of synthesizers and drum machines. The album is, however, notable within Prince's catalogue for its wide variety of themes in addition to the sexual imagery which had already become something of a trademark on his previous work. "Automatic", extending to almost ten minutes, starts side three of the album with a prominent synthesizer melody and bondage-inspired lyrical imagery which, transplanted to the music video for the track (with a scene that depicted Prince being tied up and whipped by band-members Lisa Coleman and Jill Jones), had been deemed too sexual for MTV in 1983.

"Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)", an ode to a harsh lover, is the centerpiece of a preoccupation with Computer Age themes that would continue into future albums. This is also reflected in various aspects of the album's instrumentation, with Prince fully embracing the gadgetry and sounds of emergent electro-funk and 1980s sequencing technology on tracks like "Let's Pretend We're Married" and "All the Critics Love U in New York", songs that widen his use of synthesizers and prominently feature the use of a Linn LM-1 drum machine. Prince himself has cited the movie Blade Runner as an influence on the album's synth sound and the music videos produced for its singles.[citation needed] 1999 also contains two ballads in "Free", a delicate piano piece expressing patriotism and appreciation for American freedoms, and "International Lover", a slow-paced love song for which Prince received his first Grammy Award nomination in 1984 under the category of Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.[8]


The album's cover features elements from the front cover of Prince's previous album, Controversy; namely the eyes and the "Rude Boy" pin in the "1999", the jacket studs in the "R" and the smile in the "P". The "I" in "Prince" contains the words "and the Revolution" written backwards (as "dna eht noituloveR"), both acknowledging his backing band and foreshadowing the next four years of his career. The "1" in the "1999" has an almost phallic shape, perhaps reflecting the heavy sexuality of much of his material up to, and even after, that particular album's release.[citation needed]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Blender 4/5 stars[9]
Entertainment Weekly A–[10]
The Guardian 5/5 stars[11]
Pitchfork 10/10[12]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[13]
Slant Magazine 5/5 stars[14]
Spin Alternative Record Guide 8/10[15]
The Village Voice A–[2]

1999 received widespread acclaim from critics. The album's critical and commercial success secured Prince a place in the public psyche, and marked the beginning of two years of heightened fame via massively successful tours, hit singles and a Hollywood movie. According to the Rolling Stone Album Guide, "1999 may be Prince's most influential album: Its synth-and-drum machine-heavy arrangements codified the Minneapolis sound that loomed over mid-'80s R&B and pop, not to mention the next two decades' worth of electro, house, and techno."[16]

In 2003, the TV network VH1 placed 1999 49th in its list of the greatest albums of all time.[17] The album was also part of Slant Magazine's list "The 50 Most Essential Pop Albums"[18] and the magazine listed the album at #8 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[19]

In 2003, the album was ranked #163 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time while in 1989 it was ranked the 16th "100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s".[20]

The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.[21] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[22]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Prince.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "1999" 6:15
2. "Little Red Corvette" 5:03
3. "Delirious" 4:00
Side two
No. Title Length
4. "Let's Pretend We're Married" 7:21
5. "D.M.S.R." 8:17
Side three
No. Title Length
6. "Automatic" 9:28
7. "Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)" 4:02
8. "Free" 5:08
Side four
No. Title Length
9. "Lady Cab Driver" 8:19
10. "All the Critics Love U in New York" 5:59
11. "International Lover" 6:37
Alternate formats
  • Originally released on vinyl as a double LP (the first of a number of double sets from Prince), 1999 was cut to a single vinyl edition in some countries; Brazil, for example, opted to issue the release as two separate vinyl albums, 1999 I and 1999 II.[23]
  • The original compact disc version of the album was also cut, omitting "D.M.S.R.". There is a disclaimer on the back cover of the original compact disc pressing that reads "To enable the release of 1999 as a single compact disc, the song DMSR has been omitted from the original LP edition".[24] Later compact disc pressings (from a 1990 reissue onward) included the track.
  • On the cassette release, "Free" was placed after "D.M.S.R." to end the first side, balancing out the lengths of both sides of the cassette.


While not performance credited for the studio recordings, band members Doctor Fink (keyboards), Bobby Z. (drums) and Brown Mark (bass) do appear in the music videos.


  • "1999" (#12 US, #4 US R&B, #25 UK)
  1. "1999"
  2. "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?"
  1. "Little Red Corvette"
  2. "All the Critics Love U in New York"
  1. "Delirious"
  2. "Horny Toad"
  1. "Automatic"
  2. "Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)"
  1. "Let's Pretend We're Married"
  2. "Irresistible Bitch"



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[37] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[38] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[39] 4× Platinum 4,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Prince: 1999 > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (December 28, 1982). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  3. ^ a b Hill, Michael (December 9, 1982). "Prince: 1999". Rolling Stone. No. RS 384. Wenner Media. ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on July 17, 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Format Team (April 21, 2016). "A Visual Celebration of Prince Through His Album Covers". Format. 
  5. ^ "45cat - Prince - Automatic / Something In The Water (Does Not Compute) - Warner Bros. - Australia - 7-29520". 45cat. Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  6. ^ "Longbored Surfer - 1983". longboredsurfer.com. 
  7. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard. 
  8. ^ Weiss, Shari (April 21, 2016). "Grammys Mourn Prince – See Statement From Grammy Awards Recording Academy". Gossipcop.com. Retrieved April 24, 2016. 
  9. ^ Harris, Keith (June–July 2001). "Every Original CD Reviewed - Prince". Blender. No. 1. Alpha Media Group. 
  10. ^ Browne, David (21 September 1990). "Purple Products". Entertainment Weekly. No. #32. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  11. ^ Price, Simon (April 22, 2016). "Prince: every album rated – and ranked". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  12. ^ Johnston, Maura (April 30, 2016). "Prince: 1999". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 1, 2016. 
  13. ^ Hoard (2004), p. 655. Portions posted at "Prince: Album Guide". RollingStone.com. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  14. ^ Henderson, Eric (12 December 2003). "Prince: 1999". Slant. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  15. ^ Weisbard, Eric (10 October 1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide (1st ed.). Vintage. ISBN 978-0-679-75574-6. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  16. ^ "Prince: Biography". Rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on 21 October 2006. 
  17. ^ "Rock On The Net: VH1: 100 Greatest Albums". www.rockonthenet.com. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  18. ^ "Vital Pop: 50 Essential Pop Albums". Slant Magazine. 30 June 2003. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  19. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s | Feature". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  20. ^ "163 | 1999 - Prince". The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on March 6, 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  21. ^ "News Release: 2008 Grammy Hall of Fame® Inductees Announced" (PDF). The Recording Academy. December 19, 2007. p. 4. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 16, 2008. 
  22. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2. 
  23. ^ "1999". sleevographia2.free.fr. Archived from the original on 11 March 2005. 
  24. ^ "Prince – 1999". discogs.com. 28 April 2008. Notes. Retrieved 28 April 2008. 
  25. ^ "Album: 1999 - Prince Vault". Archived from the original on July 11, 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  26. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  27. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 38, No. 25" (PHP). RPM. August 20, 1983. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Prince - 1999" (ASP). MegaCharts. dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  29. ^ "charts.org.nz Prince - 1999" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Prince > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  31. ^ a b "Allmusic: 1999 : Charts & Awards: Billboard Albums". allmusic.com. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Top 40 album DVD és válogatáslemez-lista – 2016. 22. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  33. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Prince – 1999". Hung Medien. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  34. ^ "Prince > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 30, 2016. 
  35. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1983". billboard.biz. December 31, 1983. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1984". billboard.biz. 1984-12-31. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Prince – 1999". Music Canada. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  38. ^ "British album certifications – Prince – 1999". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 2, 2014.  Enter 1999 in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  39. ^ "American album certifications – Prince – 1999". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 2, 2013.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH


  • Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. 

External links[edit]