Little Red Corvette

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"Little Red Corvette"
Prince LRC.jpg
US 7" single (1983)
Single by Prince
from the album 1999
ReleasedFebruary 9, 1983[1]
RecordedMay 20, 1982 (basic tracking)
August 11–12, 1982 (mixing)[2]
1983 and 1984 (Purple Rain era studio sessions)[3]
StudioKiowa Trail Home Studio (basic tracking), Sunset Sound (mixing)
Length5:02 (Album Version)
3:08 (Single Version)
8:27 (Dance Remix)
LabelWarner Bros.
Prince singles chronology
"Little Red Corvette"
Prince (UK) singles chronology
"Little Red Corvette"
"When Doves Cry"
Music video
"Little Red Corvette" on YouTube

"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.[7]

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[8] and moves at a tempo of 123 beats per minute in common time. Prince's vocals span from A2 to D7 in the song.[9] The lyrics use car imagery as a double entendre for sex,[10] also making use of horse-related imagery for similar purposes.[6]

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."[5] With its instrumentation of guitars, synthesizers, and a drum machine, Hamilton identifies "Little Red Corvette" as a post-disco song "in every respect."[5]

Music video[edit]

"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".[11]


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.[12] The lyrics came to him in bits and pieces during this and other catnaps. Eventually, he was able to finish it without sleeping.[13]

Awards and accolades[edit]



  1. ^ Uptown, 2004, p.41
  2. ^ Tudahl, Duane.
  3. ^ Rowman et Littlefield, 2018.pp 4-5.
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Prince – 1999". Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Hamilton, Jack. "Prince Was Our Bard of One-Night Stands, and "Little Red Corvette" Was His Masterpiece". Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Hip Hop Single Sales: Prince, Desiigner & Drake". HipHopDX. April 30, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  8. ^ "Little Red Corvette by Prince @ Song Key Finder". Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  9. ^ Prince. "Prince "Little Red Corvette" Sheet Music in Db Major (transposable) - Download & Print". Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  10. ^ "25 Essential Prince Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  11. ^ Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides Ltd. p. 819. ISBN 978-1-84353-105-0.
  12. ^ Torchinsky, Jason (2016-04-24). "Everybody Was Wrong About the Car That Inspired Prince's 'Little Red Corvette'". Jalopnik. Gawker Media. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
  13. ^ Leeds, Alan (1993). CD insert booklet. Prince The Hits 2.
  14. ^ "Acclaimed Music Top 10,000 songs". Acclaimed Music. July 15, 2018.
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. p. 239. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA from mid-1983 until June 12, 1988.
  16. ^ a b c Trust, Gary; Caulfield, Keith (April 25, 2016). "Prince's 'Purple Rain' Is the Week's Top-Selling Song, as 6 of His Classics Re-Enter Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  17. ^ "Kent Music Report – National Top 100 Singles for 1983". Kent Music Report. Retrieved August 5, 2020 – via
  18. ^ "Talent Almanac 1984: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 95 no. 52. December 24, 1983. p. TA-18.
  19. ^ "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

External links[edit]