Kiss (Prince song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
US 7-inch single
Single by Prince and the Revolution
from the album Parade
B-side"♥ or $"
ReleasedFebruary 5, 1986[1]
RecordedApril 27–28, 1985
StudioSunset Sound
Length3:38 (album version)
3:46 (single/video version)
7:16 (extended version)
Prince and the Revolution singles chronology
Music video
"Kiss" on YouTube

"Kiss" is a song composed, written, and produced by American musician Prince. Released by the Paisley Park label as the lead single from Prince and the Revolution's eighth studio album, Parade (1986), on February 5, 1986, it was a No. 1 hit worldwide, holding the top spot of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks. The single was certified gold in 1986 for shipments of 1,000,000 copies by RIAA.[3]

The song is ranked No. 85 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2021, No. 464 in 2010, and No. 461 in 2004.[4] NME ranked the song at No. 4 in their list of The 150 Greatest Singles of All Time,[5] and voted "Kiss" the best single of 1986.[6]

Following Prince's death in April 2016, the song re-charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 28 and jumped to No. 23 a week later. The song also reached No. 2 on the French Singles Chart. As of April 30, 2016, it had sold 1.33 million digital copies in the U.S.[7]

Age of Chance and Art of Noise also released versions of the song that were critical and chart successes.

Development, production and release[edit]

"Kiss" started as a rough acoustic demo, with a verse and chorus written by Prince. He gave his demo to the funk band Mazarati (who approached him in the first place for an extra song for their debut album), and they worked on it with producer David Z at Sunset Sound Studio 2, while Prince was busy working in the studio next to them, Studio 3.[8] Z recalls having one of the band members play a piano part inspired by Bo Diddley's song "Say Man".[9][10] In the Sound On Sound article for "Kiss", he recalled programming the song's beat on a LinnDrum drum machine, but the Mixonline article he refers to a Linn 9000.[10][9] However, it's unlikely either of them were used as the drums sound more like the LM-1, Prince's usual drum machine.[11] In the end, Prince decided to finish the song, retaining David Z's unique, funky rhythm and background vocal arrangements by Mazarati's Bruce DeShazer and Marvin Gunn (David Z recounts how the band had expected a songwriting credit, and were "pissed" when it did not materialise);[9] he removed the bass line, and added the signature guitar and falsetto vocal. For the distinctive "ah-wah-ah" backing vocals, David Z adapted vocals by Brenda Lee - one of the biggest US chart toppers in the Sixties - from her 1959/1960 hit "Sweet Nothin's", a single from her eponymous album.[9] To make up for the absence of bass, the kick drum was run through an AMS RMX-16 reverb on the non-linear setting.[8] The underlying "keyboard chop" in the background is an acoustic guitar (played by David Z.) run through a Kepex noise gate triggered by the hi-hat track on the multitrack tape - this effect, however, was rather difficult to recreate live on keyboards.[8][10][12] The final, minimalist song was a hard sell to Warner Bros., but upon Prince's insistence, the song was released and added to Parade.[13]

Despite Warner Bros. not wanting to release it as a single, "Kiss" became Prince's third number-one US hit, following 1984's highly successful "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy". It was also a big hit across the Atlantic, reaching number 6 on the UK Singles Chart. The song won Prince another 29th Annual Grammy Awards for Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and was nominated for Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.[14] The song became a staple at Prince's concerts and was usually sung partially by the audience.

The 12-inch single of the song is an extension of the album track. The extended section is based on the funky guitar line and contains much fuller instrumentation than the main track, including bass guitar, organ and horns. New lyrics are present from Prince, along with Jill Jones, that end with a humorous dialogue between a wife and her husband watching Prince on television. The B-side of "Kiss" was "♥ or $" ("Love or Money"), sung in a processed, higher-pitched vocal, which Prince would later use for his Camille material. The song relates to the theme in Under the Cherry Moon, and a bit of the song was heard in the film, as was a bit of the extended version of "Kiss". The extended "Kiss" was included on 2006's Ultimate; "♥ or $" was recently re-released as a digital B-side on iTunes.

Revolution bassist Brownmark claims to have co-written the song with Prince: he most likely wrote the second verse as the first verse was on the demo Prince provided himself and Mazarati with to work from. Despite being promised a songwriting credit by Prince, he never got any proper credit and didn't receive any royalties from it.[15][12]


The song is written in the key of A major and has a tempo of 112 beats per minute in common time.[16]

Critical reception[edit]

Robert Hilburn from Los Angeles Times wrote, "The single combines an ever-so-cool update of a classic James Brown guitar-accented funk riff with witty lyrics that suggest a bit more humility in Prince's sexually aggressive posture. You don't have to be rich to be my girl, he advises. You don't have to be cool to rule my world. Even the put-downs are tinged with humor: Act your age, not your shoe size, he tells one prospective lover."[17]

Music video[edit]

The accompanying music video for "Kiss" was filmed on February 13, 1986 at Laird International Studios in Culver City, California,[18] and directed by Rebecca Blake. In the plot of the video, Prince appears in a half shirt and leather jacket and then all shirtless and performs dance choreography in a hall. The trousers he wears are strip-off pants. He is accompanied by the veiled dancer Monique Mannen wearing black lingerie and sunglasses while Revolution member Wendy Melvoin sits playing guitar.


"Kiss" is widely considered one of Prince's finest songs. In 2016, Paste ranked the song number two on their list of the 50 greatest Prince songs,[19] and in 2022, American Songwriter ranked the song number three on their list of the 10 greatest Prince songs.[20]

In 2022, it was included in the list "The story of NME in 70 (mostly) seminal songs", at number 28: Mark Beaumont wrote that with this song, "Prince took his crown while the Hip-Hop Wars raged".[21]

Track listings[edit]

  • 7-inch single
  1. "Kiss" – 3:46
  2. "♥ or $" – 3:57
  • 12-inch single
  1. "Kiss" (extended version) – 7:16
  2. "♥ or $" (extended version) – 6:50
  • CD single
  1. "Kiss" (extended version) – 7:16
  2. "Girls & Boys" – 5:30
  3. "Under the Cherry Moon" – 2:57
  • Digital download
  1. "Kiss" (Daft Punk Remix) — 4:49


Credits from Duane Tudahl, Benoît Clerc and Guitarcloud[22][23][24]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Age of Chance version[edit]

Fon 12-inch sleeve by The Designers Republic, orange printing
Single by Age of Chance
from the album Beneath The Pavements The Dancefloor
B-side"Crash Conscious"
ReleasedNovember 1986 (1986-11)
StudioFon Studios, Sheffield
  • Fon (AGE-5)
  • Virgin (outside UK)
Age of Chance singles chronology
"Bible of the Beats"
"Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Noise"

An industrial[62] cover of the song was released in November 1986[63] by Age of Chance. Bass player Geoff Taylor described it as: "We basically removed the sex and replaced it with lump hammers."[64]

The band worked out the music from hearing it in clubs and consulted Smash Hits for the lyrics,[65] although they changed them substantially.[66]

The band first recorded the track for a Peel session in June 1986, when the Prince version was still in the UK charts. They were inspired by The Fire Engines having covered Heaven 17's "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" for their first Peel session while that song was still in the charts. John Peel got many listener requests to play Age of Chance's version of "Kiss" again,[67] and it made No. 2 in Peel's Festive Fifty for 1986.[68]

The single version was recorded at Chakk's Fon Studios in Sheffield and released on the Fon label in the UK in November 1986. Its success led to a contract with Virgin Records, who released the single in the rest of the world.[69]

The single was accompanied by a video which received some airplay on MTV in the United States.

The sleeve was one of the first major productions by The Designers Republic, helping make their reputation. It was available in white, pink, orange or green.[64]

The band recorded a remix called "Kisspower" with Alan Smyth of Fon Studios in November 1986, using Fon's Akai S900 sampler. It included samples from the Prince original, Bruce Springsteen, Run–D.M.C. and other artists. Virgin wanted to release it but it was vetoed by Simon Draper of Virgin America over copyright concerns.[67] It was eventually released as a run of 500 white label promotional copies.[64] If released, it would have been one of the first mainstream sample-based singles, six months before "Pump Up the Volume" and "Say Kids What Time Is It?".[69] "Kisspower" was acclaimed as a "landmark" and a "cut'n'paste trailblazer" by musician's magazine Electronic Sound.[67]

Critical response[edit]

On release, the single achieved Single Of The Week in Sounds 15 November 1986, which described it as "The first white band on an independent label to deliver a record that successfully crosses the alertness of hip hop and electro" and emphasised the quality of the artwork.[63]

Greil Marcus in The Village Voice 10 March 1987 called it a "trash masterpiece ... Instant party, with an edge of menace."[70]

Simon Reynolds described the single in Blissed Out: The raptures of rock as "anti-anti-pop, a gesture against indie stasis."[71]

Track listings[edit]

  • 7-inch (Fon AGE-5)[72] (Virgin VS-951)
A. "Kiss" (Prince & The Revolution) – 3:04
B. "Crash Conscious" (Elvidge/Howson/Perry/Taylor) – 2:54
  • 12-inch (Fon AGE-T-5)[73] (Virgin VS-951-12)
A. "Kiss" – 3:06
B1. "Kiss" (Collision Cut) remixed by Crush Commander – 4:11
B2 "Crash Conscious" – 2:55
  • 12-inch Jack-Knife Remixes (Fon AGE-L-5)[74]
A. "Kiss" (Sonic Crush Symphony) remixed by D.J. Chakk
B1. "Kiss" (Your Move America) remixed by D.J. Chakk
B2. "Kiss" (Leeds V The Bronx) remixed by D.J. Chakk
B3. "Crash Conscious"
  • 12-inch "Kisspower" (Fon AGE-X-5) (promo)[75]
A. "Kisspower" – 6:55
B. "Kisspower" – 6:55

Chart history[edit]

The single reached No. 1 on the UK Indie Charts in late 1986.[62] It spent 11 weeks on the mainstream pop charts in the United Kingdom, starting at 6 December 1986 and peaking at No. 50 in early 1987.[76]

In New Zealand it charted for four weeks, peaking at No. 21.[77]

In the United States, it spent six weeks on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart, peaking at No. 35 on 23 May 1987.[78]

The Art of Noise featuring Tom Jones version[edit]

UK 7-inch sleeve
Single by Art of Noise featuring Tom Jones
from the album The Best of The Art of Noise
ReleasedOctober 28, 1988
Art of Noise singles chronology
"Dragnet (The '88 Mix)"
"Paranoimia '89"
Tom Jones singles chronology
"I Was Born to Be Me"
"Move Closer"

In 1988, British synthpop group the Art of Noise released a cover of the song, featuring Welsh singer Tom Jones on vocals. Jones had added the song to his Vegas live show and the Art of Noise contacted him after seeing him perform it on TV.[79]

The song became the band's biggest hit to that point, reaching No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart (higher than the original in that country), top 10 in several countries and No. 18 on the US dance chart.[80] It was also No. 1 in New Zealand and Spain.

The song alternates between two distinct rhythms: a fast-paced 4
rock beat, panned entirely to the left channel; and a half-speed quiet storm-inspired percussion section. The guitar and horns break in the middle of the track musically references the themes to Dragnet and Peter Gunn (two songs the Art of Noise covered with much commercial success) as well as their own breakthrough hit, "Close (to the Edit)" and "Paranoimia", their 1986 collaboration with Max Headroom. Jones changes the lyric line of "Women, Not Girls rule my world" to "Women and Girls, rule my world."

This version was later included as part of an episode of the series Listed on MuchMoreMusic, which was on the Top 20 cover songs. It can also be heard during the main title sequence of the movie My Stepmother Is an Alien as well as a scene in Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy.[citation needed]

Track listings[edit]

  • 7-inch single
  1. "Kiss" – 3:30
  2. "E.F.L." (The Art of Noise) – 5:15
  • 12-inch single
  1. "Kiss" (The Battery Mix) – 8:17
  2. "Kiss" (7-inch version) – 3:30
  3. "E.F.L." – 5:15
  • CD single
  1. "Kiss" (7-inch version) – 3:30
  2. "E.F.L." (The Art of Noise) – 5:15
  3. "Kiss" (The Battery Mix) – 8:17


Other covers[edit]

The song had 46 covers ranging from Pop (Anna Kidd, Mikayla Ayres) to Soul (Jeff Michel) and Jazz (Aleksandra Crossan).[101]


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  • Uptown: The Vault – The Definitive Guide to the Musical World of Prince: Nilsen Publishing 2004, ISBN 91-631-5482-X

External links[edit]