"Alphabet St" - Prince
from the album Lovesexy (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #8 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 9
Today's song of the day comes from Prince, who was coming off his double-disc album masterpiece Sign O' The Times, which had scored him a trio of top-ten pop hits in the U.S. with "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man", "U Got The Look" with Sheena Easton, and the topical title track. In 1987, he was set to release The Black Album, a venture into newer styles of R&B music like hip-hop, house music, and funk, but Prince shelved the project after completion even with a boatload of pressings (a few had gotten out, soon to be in the hands of bootleggers, until a "legitimate" release came in 1994). In its stead, Prince rushed out a different, more "brighter" album, Lovesexy. Despite the title, the record delved more into his spiritual thoughts, and signaled a new, quirkier version of the lothario that he started out being. The first single from the project, "Alphabet St." was a match to his similarly sparsely instrumented "Kiss", led by the rhythm guitar and the backup singers (well, him) going "yeah, yeah...yeah!"...
"Alphabet St" brought Prince back into the pop top ten in America in June of 1998. The single also climbed to #3 on Billboard's R&B chart, while on the dance club play chart it peaked at #22. Internationally, the single hit #1 in Norway and New Zealand, and made the top ten in the Netherlands (#3), Sweden (#5), Switzerland (#5), Ireland (#3), and the UK (#9). It would turn out to be his sole album to have only one pop top-40 hit in the U.S. since his pop breakthrough with 1999.
In 1992, the rap group Arrested Development sampled the word "Tennessee" from this single for their song of the same name. Prince sued, and they ended up shelling out 100K for it. Odd, considering this record is full of samples as well.
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In 1994, the Jesus and Mary Chain covered the song incoherently for a B-side...
Meanwhile, alt-rocker Sufjan Stevens put a version on his holiday album...
Up tomorrow: A Runaway grrl has a poisonous smooch.