The Reproduction of a new breed
There has been much talk recently of Prince’s ‘comeback’. The truth is weather he likes the phrase it is in fact comeback, albeit commercially. With the album charting at number 3 in the US, Musicology has all but gone gold and may well go platinum and heralds the mark of unknown territory to the fans who have bought up his output over the last 10 years. Prince now back on the radio, the Billboard charts, and is selling more concert tickets than anyone else, so to suggest it is not a comeback of some sorts is quite frankly nonsense. What we have now are ‘old’ fans re-invigorated to the cause and even plenty of ‘rookie’ ones. It is with the rookie fans where Prince’s future stardom lies.
If he wants to retire on a decent pension, he can live off releasing the odd live recording and some more of his vast backlog to his existing fan-base that has over the past decade been watered down so much that only a hardcore survive. His hardcore are still sizeable enough for Prince not to consider his longer term future to be a problem. So why does he crave stardom then? Personally I don’t think he sought it when he wrote Musicology, as he was still set to release it under his NPG Records label even if the larger companies were not interested. It was ‘that’ performance on the Grammys got him signed. Out of the limelight for so long he had forgotten what true media attention was like, with the press writing more about his music than his name. Now Prince has re-discovered that long lost fame, he is loving every minute of it, because as only a Prince fan knows, not only is this experience unreal to them that they can declare in public that they are a Prince fan, they all still rightly appreciate it will not last forever. Prince knows his ‘rookie’ fans are fickle and will follow him as long he is an ‘it’ artist and because they simply be unable to accept that his next album will be too different to them. Everyone knew of Prince’s existence 20 years ago and yet his new ‘fans’ never gave it a thought to get to his back catalogue until now. Because it is good music? No. It’s because everyone is talking about it.
How can anyone honestly be surprised that the greatest performer alive today has actually put out a good record, are people really that slow in letting the penny drop? This ‘limelight’ period – lets call it – could well be a temporary blip; wasn’t everybody was into dinosaurs in 1992, and then Titanic in 1997, so it’s now Prince in 2004. Could he sell out 6 dates the Staples Center on his old fan base – no. Roll on the theatre venues of 2005 when Prince’s ‘purple period’ is back, because as certain as death and taxes, it will, but he and his hardcore will be around long after the masses have moved on to their next fad and Prince remains “number 1 at the bank”.