Jacqueline Oud - Culture

Prince: doctor in Musicology

Since April the 19th, Prince is back again on the stage and prepares his come back into the charts too. His new CD Musicology is considered as a good Prince CD so the stars seem to announce him some sparkling moments.

Long time no see?

According to some sources it is already almost 10 years ago that Prince produced an album. This may seem correct, but one should not forget the smaller albums he produced and who were distributed by his own label, the NPG, or with a smaller label company. He produced also some albums under the other names than Prince. Remember Symbol, Slave, TAFKAP (The Artist Formerly Known As Prince)

So to be correct, we can state that Prince still is as busy as ever. How about his albums, maybe they have passed without much noise, Rainbow Children and N.E.W.S., and his worldtour for the Rainbow Children, or his Projects with the new Power Generation and the recording studio Paisley Park? Should you have missed out on the two albums, they are really worth purchasing as they express the Prince creativity and propose some very subtil moments.


After having listened to Musicology I definitely recognise the various styles of the Purple Prince. In fact to be honest, that is what I find a bit frustrating, because it is Prince as we already know him. There is nothing really new in his style. Nothing shocking, nothing that pushes the limit. Since we are used with Prince and his new CD’s, they come combined with something new. This can be seen as more confirming his styles.

The songs on Musicology are various and very nice. We recognise the qualities of Prince in the art of mixing the sounds, the styles of his voice and his instruments. Its is clear that we do notice the various songs go by, as there is a clear change in each song. From his funky style - Cinnamon Girl - we go to a jaz and blues style - Dear mr Man. We pass some good party melodies and the end of the CD with Reflexion we confirm that the texts are very well written. We recoginse in the lyrics that Prince has changed from his Purple Rain period.

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Cover CD Prince: Musicology

There is no way we can say that Musicology is not nice and it will probably reach a large audience. For the real fans of Prince it is however a pity that there is nothing new in this album. Even the jazzy style was already introduced in N.E.W.S or for the lucky few, in the CD "One Nite Alone .. The Aftershow: It Ain’t Over".

Prince and Marketing

Prince is since quite some time very seriously busy with his New Power Generation. Together with his own studio Paisley Park this is his central headoffice for new ideas. As states his website, Prince is clearly not lacking ideas. Being very well aware of nowadays technology and internet he proposes a direct access and downloads as from this website. Even though Sony distributes Musicology, NPG has kept all rights for the distribution of the album by internet.

Being still compared with the major pop artists and seen as a non-contested genius, he also proves to manage nowadays IT solutions. For a real Prince fan, the access by his official website is the only way of staying informed of any new real funky and original input.
Prince seems to choose very seriously for his way of distribution. Working for this album with Sony has been a clear choice too, especially given the type of music it proposes. Musicology is for a large audience, Sony can bring this to him. Musicology has therefor been largely promoted and with the smaller labels ther is not enough budget to follow-up. On the contrary, the previously released Prince albums by the smaller labels, were not the same type of music and the promotion was more by word to mouth. We can thus notice a very clear strategy on a product differentiation.

Prince is generally not very keen on working with major Distributers. Remember his problems with Warner Bros. The problem in the contract with Warner Bros. was also the main reason for Prince to produce under different names. With Sony he seems to have managed to negotiate a one shot contract but rumours abound and are not that certain. We’ll see, all depends on the benefits that Musicology will bring.

As to increase the sales of Musicology, The CD also proposes a booklet of 28 pages and a video [1] This proves another way to avoid too much downloading or copying, which seems to be the current evil of the music industry.

Are you looking for Prince?

One thing is for sure, Musicology is a genuine Prince album. See it as a flashback on the past success from Prince and you will be satisfied. Are you looking for someting brilliant from Prince, than you better stay tuned to his website and focus on his smaller productions. You might be dissapointed in finding something that already sounds familiar to you, though you may like it all the same. Whatever way, Prince will still suprise us with new ideas. Though he might have reached 45 years and lost some of his wild hairs he still has all his creativity. As sang Sinaed O’Conner, "Nothing Compares 2 U" so hopefully your reign may continue.

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[1This is done in the French verion of the CD at least.

[19 April 2004]

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