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Gangster Glam and Voyeurism: Prince & the New Power Generation - "Insatiable"

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Monday, Dec 16, 2013
On this track, Prince seems slightly more interested in the video-recording than in the act itself. “Doesn’t my body look good in the shadows?”, he asks her.
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Prince and the New Power Generation

Diamonds and Pearls

(Warner Brothers; US: 1 Oct 1991; UK: 1 Oct 1991)

The album’s third single (of six), “Instatiable” is a classic Prince late-night, slow-jam love-making ballad—of which his discography holds fewer straight-ahead examples than you might imagine. This is one of those, though, like “Do Me Baby”, the classic example from his earliest albums. Like that song, “Insatiable” is long—nearly seven minutes—and immediately sets a slow pace and bedroom setting.

Prince starts right out singing sweet-nothings up and down in a way that for him resembles moaning, before starting: “Turn the lights off / Strike a candle / No one that I’ve ever / Knows how to handle my body / The way you truly do”.
Note the chaste blank space he leaves after “ever”. He does something similar, though much crasser, with the line “I’ll show you my / If you show your”, this time the blank spaces filled in by a one-syllable musical phrase and a two-syllable one.

Note also the fact that he describes her as being in control, not him, probably the first time on this album that he’s truly revoked control, if we believe that it’s what’s happening here. He says, she makes him unable to stop himself, “insatiable”. An interesting moment of singing is the downward spiral of his voice on the spoken-sung line, “Even if I wasn’t thirsty I would drink ever drop”.

This being Prince, this straight-ahead ballad isn’t that straight-ahead. They’re videotaping the whole thing (“Tonight we video!”), and as befitting the album, he’s as interested in the image as what they’re actually doing. He seems slightly more interested in the video-recording than the act itself. “Doesn’t my body look good in the shadows?”, he asks her at one point.

He tells her, “You are my every fantasy”, but do we believe him? This scenario seems quite tame by Prince’s standards. And he seems torn about whether she’ll be “nasty” enough for him. At the end of the song, he’s surprised to find out she was.

Though for this album he’s already been accompanied at every step by twins named Diamond and Pearl, here he’s cavorting with the more ordinary-named Martha. He repeats her name several times. The music nerd in me tries to imagine her as the same character in Tom Waits’ song “Martha”. Is this where her life has taken her in the years since Tom Frost has seen her?

Previous entries:

*“Daddy Pop”
*“Diamonds and Pearls”
*“Willing and Able”
*“Gett Off”
*“Walk Don’t Walk”
*“Money Don’t Matter 2 Night”

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