Thursday, May 21, 2020

"If I Was Your Girlfriend" by Prince

Song#:  3140
Date:  05/30/1987
Debut:  83
Peak:  67
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Prince scored his tenth Pop Top 10 hit with "Sign o' the Times," the first single from his double album of the same name. The song would also be his fifth #1 at R&B. While Prince wrote that tune specifically for the album, most of the other tracks were taken from three other unreleased projects including Dream Factory and the triple-disc Crystal Ball. This second single from the LP was originally intended for a Prince alter ego project titled Camille. It featured a sparse arrangement along with a vocal from Prince that was processed to make his voice sound higher and more androgynous. The tune wasn't quite as mainstream as his previous singles and that was certainly reflected on the Pop chart where it stalled early and disappeared after a few weeks. It was actually his worst result on the Pop chart since 1981's #70 "Controversy." It did better at R&B, but it stopped shy of the Top 10 at #12. The album was still selling well, but it really needed another hit to boost interest. That would come with the LP's third single.

ReduxReview:  The lingering question I've always had is why in the hell was this released as a single? Talk about a momentum killer. This tune had no business being a single. It picked up enough airplay to do okay at R&B, but I think that was just mainly driven by Prince's name and it being a follow-up to a big #1 hit. There was just no way this was going to do anything beyond that. It was too odd and esoteric with Prince's adjusted vocals and nary a memorable chorus to be heard. Now, is it a bad song? Not at all. It is actually a pretty cool track and it worked well on the album. I just thought it was silly to push it as a single when there were other more radio-friendly tracks available. It could have easily killed the run of the album along with sales, but Prince was lucky that further singles were strong enough to overcome this blip of bad judgement.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Prince's recording engineer for this album and others from this era was Susan Rogers. Rogers was not a musician herself, but fell in love with the technical aspects of recording music. After learning about sound equipment and the process of recording, Rogers secured a job as a technician for an audio company in L.A. A few years later she was working at Rudy Records studio, which was run by David Crosby and Graham Nash. When 1983 rolled around, through a connection she learned that Prince was looking for a new technician for his Minneapolis studio. Rogers got the job and made the move. Upon arrival, Prince informed Rogers that he didn't want her for the tech position, but wanted her to be the house engineer. She agreed and her first big project with Prince ended up being the classic Purple Rain soundtrack. Rogers stayed with Prince for the next five years through to the Sign o' the Times album. She would then go on to work with other artists as an engineer, but then also branched out to the producer's chair. Rogers would co-produce the 4x platinum selling 1998 album Stunt by the Barenaked Ladies, which included the #1 hit "One Week." Rogers would end up leaving the music business to pursue a Ph.D, which would lead to her being on the faculty at Boston's Berklee College of Music.


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