Little Red Corvette
|"Little Red Corvette"|
US 7" single (1983)
|Single by Prince|
|from the album 1999|
|Released||February 9, 1983|
|Recorded||May 20, 1982 (basic tracking)|
August 11–12, 1982 (mixing)
1983 and 1984 (Purple Rain era studio sessions)
|Studio||Kiowa Trail Home Studio (basic tracking), Sunset Sound (mixing)|
|Length||5:02 (Album Version)|
3:08 (Single Version)
8:27 (Dance Remix)
|Prince singles chronology|
|Prince (UK) singles chronology|
"Little Red Corvette" is a song by American recording artist Prince. The song combines a Linn drum beat and slow synth buildup with a rock chorus, over which Prince, using several automobile metaphors, recalls a one-night stand with a beautiful but promiscuous woman. Backing vocals were performed by Lisa Coleman and Dez Dickerson, who also performs a guitar solo, the only instrumentation on 1999 not provided by Prince himself.
Released in 1983 as the second single from 1999, the song was at that point Prince's highest charting and his first to reach the top 10 in the U.S., peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also his first single to perform better on the pop chart than the R&B chart. Later, it was rereleased as a double A-side with "1999", peaking at number two on the UK Singles Chart in January 1985. Following Prince's death in April 2016, "Little Red Corvette" re-charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 29, rising to number 20 the following week. It has sold 1.08 million digital copies in the United States.
The initial US single was backed with album track "All the Critics Love U in New York", while UK releases featured "Lady Cab Driver" or "Horny Toad". An extended dance remix of "Little Red Corvette," featured on some 12" releases, was later featured on the 2006 compilation Ultimate.
"Little Red Corvette" is written in the key of D♭ major and moves at a tempo of 123 beats per minute in common time. Prince's vocals span from A♭2 to D♭7 in the song. The lyrics use car imagery as a double entendre for sex, also making use of horse-related imagery for similar purposes.
Jack Hamilton of Slate noted that the song is about "ambivalence, vulnerability, and fear" of casual sex. "It’s not about sex as fun...but rather about the entirety of the act: its physical, emotional, psychological, even spiritual dimensions. And uniquely, 'Little Red Corvette' isn’t really about anything other than sex." With its instrumentation of guitars, synthesizers, and a drum machine, Hamilton identifies "Little Red Corvette" as a post-disco song "in every respect."
"Little Red Corvette" (directed by Bryan Greenberg and released in February 1983) was Prince's second music video played on MTV. The first was "1999" the previous year before Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and after Musical Youth's "Pass the Dutchie".
Prince got the idea for the song when he dozed off in band member Lisa Coleman's 1964 pink Mercury Montclair Marauder after an exhausting all-night recording session. The lyrics came to him in bits and pieces during this and other catnaps. Eventually, he was able to finish it without sleeping.
Awards and accolades
- Rolling Stone ranked the song #108 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
- Dickerson's guitar solo was ranked #64 all time by readers of Guitar World.
- On Acclaimed Music the song is ranked the 181st greatest of all time as well as the third best of 1982.
- Uptown, 2004, p.41
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- "Kent Music Report – National Top 100 Singles for 1983". Kent Music Report. Retrieved August 5, 2020 – via Imgur.com.
- "Talent Almanac 1984: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 95 no. 52. December 24, 1983. p. TA-18.
- "Hot Rock Songs – Year-End 2016". Billboard. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
- Uptown: The Vault – The Definitive Guide to the Musical World of Prince: Nilsen Publishing 2004, ISBN 91-631-5482-X