Controversy (song)

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1981 U.S 7" single
Single by Prince
from the album Controversy and The Hits 2
Released September 2, 1981 (original)
1993 (Hits 2)
March 29, 2004 (2004 release)
Recorded Uptown, Sunset Sound, Hollywood Sound, 1981 (original)
Hawaii, December 2003 (2004 release)
  • 3:39 (7-inch edit)
  • 7:14 (album)
  • 6:06 (2004 release)
Writer(s) Prince
Producer(s) Prince
Prince singles chronology
"Dirty Mind"
"Let's Work"
Prince (UK) chronology
"Gotta Stop (Messin' About)"
"Let's Work"
Prince (1993) chronology
... "The Most Beautiful Girl In the World"
Prince (UK) (1993) chronology
"The Most Beautiful Girl In the World"
Prince (2004) chronology
"Controversy (Live in Hawaii)"

"Controversy" is a song by American musician Prince, the lead single and title track to his 1981 album.[1] One of his most respected classic funk songs, "Controversy" addresses certain speculation about Prince at the time such as his sexuality, gender, religion, and racial background, and how he could not understand the curiosity surrounding him.


The song has two main verses, a few choruses, with the title repeated throughout the track. Towards the middle he recites the Lord's Prayer in full, which fueled the fire for some to say the song was blasphemous. Toward the end is a repeating chant of "People call me rude / I wish we all were nude / I wish there was no black and white / I wish there were no rules." The song is straight funk with a steady 4/4 drumbeat, synthesized bass, guitar, and keyboards. The song was backed with "When You Were Mine", from his previous album, Dirty Mind.

In 1993, in support of The Hits/The B-Sides, "Controversy" was once again released in the UK as a single, this time as a two-disc EP containing several hits not on the collection. CD1 includes the edit of "Controversy", the William Orbit remix of "The Future", "Glam Slam", and "D.M.S.R.". CD2 includes the edit of "Controversy", "Anotherloverholenyohead", "Paisley Park", and "New Power Generation (Part II)". Like the "Peach" single, CD1 was a special foldout package with a place holder for CD2, which was sold separately. "Controversy" was also released on a 7" picture disc.

"Controversy" is considered Prince's breakthrough hit in Australia, where it peaked at number 15. In the US, "Controversy peaked at number 3 on the Black singles chart and number 70 on the Hot 100.[2] Also, along with the track, "Let's Work", "Controversy" was the first of seven number ones on the dance chart for Prince.[3]

Official Versions[edit]

  • "Controversy" (7 inch Edit) / (Single Version) - 3:39
  • "Controversy" (Album Version) - 7:14
  • "Controversy" (2004 Release) - 6:06

Live in Hawaii[edit]

"Controversy (Live in Hawaii)" is a digital single made available for sale on Prince's website on March 29, 2004. The single consists of a live performance of the song: "Controversy", recorded on tour in Hawaii in 2003. The track also saw a limited release as a CD single, only available as part of a Prince in Hawaii Gift Box, available from Prince's retail outlet.



Chart (1981) Peak
Netherlands Singles Chart 28
Australian Singles Chart 15
US Billboard Hot 100 70
US Billboard Hot Black Singles 3
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs 1


  1. ^
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 471. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 357. 
Preceded by
"Menergy" / "I Wanna Take You Home" by Patrick Cowley
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
(with "Let's Work")

November 14, 1981
Succeeded by
"You Can" / "Fire in My Heart" by Madleen Kane