What an odd tipple “Dance 4 Me”, Prince’s new single, is. I say new, yet the track has been lurking around for a couple of years, having originally surfaced as part of the post-squiggle-Purple One’s three-album 2009 project, Lotusflow3r. Finally receiving an official global single release this past month—a slow but nevertheless worthy response to the track’s success as a club dance track, remixed by Icon—back-story, year of creation or reason for release aside, “Dance 4 Me” is one tasty peach.
Prince is – and has been for at least a decade—in that odd, altogether tricky position where everything he does is instantly cross-referenced backwards to some other phase of his supposedly bygone majesty. No doubt because once Purple Rain secured his monarchy, Prince went on to prove so relentlessly prolific, with each subsequent album seeing him (effortlessly) evolve through concentric style changes, that audiences can be forgiven for having come to accept that, at least part of his appeal – not unlike Bowie, but more in line with his then-chart rival, Madonna – was actually about change itself.
A conundrum which, upon first listen, Dance 4 Me cannot avoid. I’ll admit, seeing the generic dance culture sleeve, I was already wincing at what could so easily have been an after-the-fact stab for (at least a decade askew) dance music cool. Yet, stick with “Dance 4 Me” and within several plays I guarantee you’ll be back in love with Prince like it’s way before “1999” (sorry!). Because “Dance 4 Me” is less reaching throwback, more a mighty reminder of how utterly, bewilderingly fantastic Prince clearly still has the power to be when he bumps the funk and focuses that otherwise planet-sized talent of his down to classic pop single duration.
Like all the best brews, “Dance 4 Me” is a synergy of flavas - the first tantalization to come through is a hint of pre-“1999” Prince, via the track’s simplicity itself, chiefly its reliance on the vocal to deliver the main melody and, as a consequence, the return to prominence of that unmistakably choppy but concise, punctuating funk guitar. Not far behind in the simple mix – joy of all returning joys—is that undeniable signature electronic drum sound. (And it says something about Prince’s impact that the merest recall of that one, single drum sound raises great memories.) Then, within several lines of the first verse, you realize that, yes, Prince is still into phone sex and the belief that getting sweaty to music is a device of the Divine – all delivered by that Sign O’The Times joy, a vari-sped vocals, safely pitching Prince above common-or-garden perv into his a doe-eyed, forever forgivable, combi-sexual imp.
Somewhere in this infinite universe there’s a club which only jumps to Prince tunes: It never closes; it’s loud, psychedelically lit and filled to bursting with the hottest, grinding boys and girls. Do yourself a favor and call back in – you’ll wonder why you ever thought about leaving in the first place.
To quote Prince himself on “Dance 4 Me”: Hallelujah!