Have we reached peak Prince?

John Shipley, the St. Paul Pioneer Press sports columnist has called out what’s behind many of the tributes to the dead icon: a chance to make a buck.

It’s one thing to honor Prince; it’s another to make him part of a business model, he says.

You know who would hate what’s happened to Prince? Prince.

No one is suggesting Prince didn’t enjoy center stage, or have a healthy sense of his own genius. He was hardly a household word when he convinced investors to get behind an autobiographical movie in which he played the lead. The movie grossed almost $80 million on release and won him an Oscar. That’s what the old-timers called moxie.

But he was also rarely seen in public and protective of work, constantly recording but only releasing relative handfuls of songs. This is the guy who changed his name to a glyph just to get out of a record deal; how do you suppose he’d feel about seeing it on a Vikings jersey?

It just doesn’t feel right anymore.

Shipley, in particular, called out area sports teams. The Twins will break out the Prince jerseys next month, the Timberwolves already wear them, the Lynx wore purple shoes in the playoffs.

Perhaps it’s time to move on.

  • Gary F

    Perfect timing. I’m just finishing up Owen Husney’s book People Who Have Met Me, and I said to myself. I’m all Princed out. .

  • Rob

    Bob C, you left out one of the biggest Prince exploiters of all – MPR, in the form of The Current. Deification runs amok on its airwaves.

    • Justice & Truth for Prince

      It is a radio station that plays music. I imagine Prince would be good with that.

      • Rob

        Try listening to the station for awhile. Prince would probably be embarrassed at how exploitative things are.

    • Jeff C.
      • Rob

        Enjoy!

        • Jeff C.

          They are playing Aretha right now. Lovin’ it!

    • Kassie

      The Current has turned me from someone who doesn’t mind Prince music to someone who hates most of it. I find myself turning the station or listening to Spotify more and more as I become increasingly irritated with the amount of bad Prince songs played. There are so many bad songs!

      • Brian Simon

        Ditto. I believe it was Easter Sunday & they switched to an all-Prince show, starting with 7 minutes (it seemed) of godawful “bat dance.”

        Sorry. Can’t do it.

        • Jerry

          I used to say that KQRS had rule that they had to play a Pink Floyd song every hour on the hour. The Current is doing the same with Prince.

          That, and this whole secular sainthood thing is really off-putting.

          • Postal Customer

            the difference is that Pink Floyd is good.

          • Kassie

            Pink Floyd, like Prince, has some good songs. Pink Floyd, like Prince, on constant repeat does not make for good radio.

          • Rob

            Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast is P Floyd’s masterwork.

          • Jerry

            It’s ok to not like Pink Floyd. It’s ok to like Pink Floyd and think they were really overplayed in the mid-90s (which was when I last listened to KQ with any frequency).

          • Hello JiZoo

            Pink Floyd can’t dance… and def barely can sing… also never had an album as good as the cover….

      • Justice & Truth for Prince

        Wow bad songs. If you like any of the pop crap and mumble rap of the day you seriously mistaken. You do realize there is a vault of 20k pieces of film and music. You are going to be hearing his music for a long time. I guess you can go back to listening to the 100 Drakes songs that come out every year.

        • Kassie

          Have you heard Bat Dance? This is exactly what Jerry means when he talks about secular sainthood. To my ear, he had a dozen or so good songs. That’s it. Most of the archive is crap. There is a reason he didn’t release it, because it wasn’t good.

          And where would you get the impression that I’m listening to Drake? I clearly state I’m talking about listening to The Current. I don’t know if I have ever even heard a Drake song.

          • Rob

            No Drake here either, thanks. But now that you’ve mentioned Drake and The Current in the same post, I’m scared we’ll be hearing Drake on The Current. Hearing Superorganism on there is bad enough. : )

          • Kassie

            The non-stop Billie Eilish for the last two weeks has been making me want to pull my hair out. I imagine Drake may not be far behind.

          • Rob

            LOL!

          • Hello JiZoo

            Prince has THOUSANDS of RELEASED material… he literally has soething for everybody…. which is a big reason why some only like a portion of his songs. best believe that my favorite songs from him are different that yours and others… Which is why we’re still talking about him in 2019. Whether you like his music or not – there’s a likely chance that you have barely heard ANY of his music. If there is about 12 that you like – then it’s accurate that Prince has a boat load of music even better than those locked up in the vault …

          • QuietBlue

            Yeah, Prince was a punchline around here twenty or so years ago. The idea that he has always been a revered figure in the Twin Cities is not true at all; for much of the 90’s he was considered a goofball. I’d say it was the 2000s when perception started to change.

          • Al

            YOU LEAVE BAT DANCE OUT OF THIS.

        • Jerry

          It’s ok to not like Prince. It’s ok to like Prince and think he has been really overplayed recently.

        • Ryan K.J.

          BATDANCE was a good song. The beat, the searing guitar solo. The tempo changes three times. Inventive. Not your typical pop song, especially for a song that went to #1.

      • Rob

        Totally with ya. I like lots of his music, but I head for other public music stations or to my itunes library when The Current pushes too much Prince.

      • QuietBlue

        Princesploitation is why I stopped listening to The Current.

        • My oft invoked saying holds true: “There are only two days when people love their radio station: the day before it signs on the air and the day they change the format.”

    • Brendan K.

      I hadn’t considered this before and I think it’s a solid point. Still, Prince’s music has always existed on the radio. MPR’s programming—within reason—provides a natural place to celebrate Prince. $100 jerseys sold at the ballpark are in a different category.

      • Rob

        Celebration is OK. Treating Prince as if he’s a demi-god, not so much. And The Current has IMO clearly moved beyond mere celebration. If someone told me that a temple to Prince was being constructed at MPR World Headquarters, I’d be almost tempted to believe it.

  • Justice & Truth for Prince

    The estate needs money and they have already made these deals with the sports team so Minnie you will have to live with them for a while. Perhaps the estate will fire Troy Carter and find someone who cares about the actual music

    • NewttheLiar

      Right now, his estate is a judge. His heirs appear to have zero control.

      • Justice & Truth for Prince

        I am glad they do not control and the Comerica and the Judge can rid of Troy when his contract ends. Any man that cannot get music out is useless to the estate. Prince was one guy without a record lable who continued to put out music on his own for 20 years.

  • MrE85

    “Have we reached peak Prince?”

    Never.

    • Mark Snyder

      This is my feeling too. Prince was enormously important to a lot of people. It’s OK for you to get tired of seeing/hearing all the Prince stuff, but there’s plenty of other stations to listen to, events to go to or so on.

      Let people enjoy their memories, pay their tributes and so forth. It does absolutely no harm to you to allow them to do so.

      • Ryuchi

        Have we reached peak Hendrix, peak Beethovan, peak Miles Davis (who came to play with Prince at Paisley Park, and called him the Duke Ellington of the 1980s)? People don’t have to listen (there’s a lot of music, films, etc. I choose not to listen to).

        • I’ll let you know when the Twins have a Beethoven promotion night

          • Ryuchi

            No doubt perfect tunage for the Twins.

  • RBHolb

    If Prince-o-mania stops, one local TV station will have even less justification for 90 minutes of evening “news.”

    “Coming up next: the special young man who wanted to honor Prince, and the first responders who made it possible.”

  • Jerry

    All these people claiming that they are honoring Prince by doing something he would probably have hated.

    • Justice & Truth for Prince

      He said someone would put the music out one day and it was not going to be him. If he did not want us to hear it he would have erased it. I think anything beyond the museum and the music is the result of administrators who really think they know everything and will not listen to the fans or respect the music e nought to let it stand on.

      • NewttheLiar

        I mostly agree with you. However, charging people to walk through his house and, at one point, ‘view’ his ashes is ghoulish.

  • HawaH

    If time for u to stop honoring Prince than u stop. But u can’t dictate to others what they should do. Quit hating and go jump in the Lake…..Menatoka. get out of Prince Tributes Business….Ase’

    • There’s a big difference on hating on Prince’s music and hating on using Prince as a business marketing strategy.

      Not that much different than the obscene way in which sports teams use veterans as a marketing tool.

      • merry_rose

        I thought the DoD paid sports teams to market veterans and patriotism. Frankly I’m over the every single soldier/sailor/airman “surprise, I’m in the mascot costume!” event at so many sports events. What’s worse is that if you say that they’re being used or that not every single service man or woman is a hero that needs to be thanked, it’s automatically shouted out that you “hate America”. Jim Wright calls it “fetishizing the military”.

        Never mind that it would never occur to these “patriots” to say thank you to teachers or nurses.

        • Kassie

          If we stop fetishizing the military, people will stop joining. Same with making college free. If college was free for everyone, who would join the military?

          edit: word

          • NewttheLiar

            As a Marine from a family full of Marines, I’m all for no one joining the military. Forcing our children to kill and die because old, mostly white, men can’t reasonably solve their differences is shameful.

        • Jerry

          Public defenders, social workers, safety regulators…

          • Kassie

            …government IT project managers…

      • NewttheLiar

        And yet, you provide only examples of opportunistic marketing campaigns and zero examples of organizations having a business model based on Prince. By your argument, the piece you’ve written is just as exploitative.

  • Barton

    I’ll not call out the sports teams or blame them for drumming up fans (I’ve got a Prince fanatic friend from the UK coming to the Twins game just to get gear). I’m going to call out the trustees of his estate. They are the ones taking actions explicitly contrary to Prince’s stated wishes when he was alive for the almighty dollar. I gasped then cringed when I heard Prince’s voice in a commercial for a car company recently: he was vehemently opposed to his music being used for advertisements. I also cringed when it was announced that his “vault” of music was opened and the trustees started selling the music – – then I bought it because it was really good: Prince never wanted this stuff released.

    In the end, this is just another cautionary tale on the importance of having estate planning – especially when you are the beloved music icon of a generation (and a location).

  • X.A. Smith

    I think this’ll only last until Bob Dylan dies. Then it’s Subterranean Homesick Night at the ballpark.

    • Postal Customer

      I don’t think there will be the same reaction when Dylan’s gone. Two very different types of fans. Prince sold way more records. Most people don’t get Dylan.

      • Rob

        I don’t think Dylan gets Dylan.

      • Kassie

        I love Dylan. I think he’s amazing. I also think he has a lot of bad music mixed in with the good. If The Current was playing him every hour and all day long on certain days, I’d say stop that too. The day after he dies should be all Dylan, and then never again. He should be treated like Bowie has been, as should Prince.

        Someone above says if you don’t like it, change the station. I think the opposite, if you want to hear Prince all the time, listen to his albums not the radio.

        • Justice & Truth for Prince

          Dylan has a channel on XM. Subscribe and enjoy.

          • Kassie

            Did you read my comment at all? Pretty much just said all Dylan makes not good radio.

      • QuietBlue

        Some flames burn bright, and some burn long.

      • X.A. Smith

        Think of it, though… First 10,000 fans in the gate get a leopard skin pillbox hat!

      • John

        Two different types of fans, but also, the difference in how they treated their home state (someone else already touched on this).

        I’ve had this discussion with people a few times now – Prince was OF here. Dylan is FROM here.

        What I mean by that – Dylan left, and never came back (I grew up near Hibbing- I can’t say that I blame him, but that’s off topic). Prince built his home and studio here in MN. He stayed (or more likely left and then came back, I don’t know his career arc, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t live in LA for a while), and embraced the state.

        • Ryuchi

          Prince paid much tax in Minnesota and is still contributing to the economy with folks travelling into town to see Paisley, attend celebrations, and so forth. Money is spent at hotels, restaurants, music is being played, relationships and connections are being had. Prince didn’t stay in the dungeons of Paisley Park, he held concerts there (last one being Piano and Microphone); ‘Paisley Park After Dark’ showcased other talent (Prince sometimes also performed); Prince performed regularly, and made albums up to his passing. It would be great if Paisley Park could continue as the music and creativity emporium it was for Prince.

          Many musicians recorded and rehearsed there – James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, George Clinton, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Celine Dion, REM, casts of various Chanhassen Dinner Theatres productions. The Sound Stage was used for tour preparations by Neil Young, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan.
          Prince himself recorded material for most of his post-Purple Rain albums there, from Sign o’ the Times (1987) to Hit n Run Phase Two (2015).

          TV commercials were produced at Paisley Park, music videos, feature films, concert films. Legendary concerts and parties were plentiful.
          https://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/04/prince-minnesota-lynx-renee-montgomery

    • Rob

      For most of the pro sports teams in Minnesota, Zimmie’s “Desolation Row” could be their theme song…

  • 1817

    I will never get tired of hearing Prince. His music is under played, mainly at mainstream stations. They always seem to play your typical set list of hits — I think it’s awesome indie stations can’t get enough of playing him. I am a bit tired of washed out tribute’s and the lack luster projects the Suites are putting out. It’s a shame because they have missed several opportunities. I don’t mind the sports teams picking up his logo/name. It’s keeps the name alive in the sports arena. The game unfortunately has changed and even tho Prince more than likely would not have gone for any of this…..he unfortunately is not here and now it’s all about keeping his name in the present and generating money to keep Paisley Park alive.

  • Postal Customer

    Has anyone here actually listened to the album 1999? It is astonishingly dated. And I say this as an 80s geek. There was a lot of good music made back then that still sounds fresh. None of it was made by Prince.

    • Hello JiZoo

      NAH, you just lack the SOUL in order to interpret the good purple stuff… it’s okay – it’s not for everybody

    • Justice & Truth for Prince

      Why are people still ripping him off? A lot of EDM has Prince elements in it. Nothing is wrong with 1999.

    • Jeff C.

      I don’t know his music well enough to give you song titles, but I can tell you that there are times when I’m listening to Purple Current when I hear some great timeless funk and happily discover that it is Prince. Yes, 1999 is super-dated, but I’ll counter-claim that Prince *did* make music that still sounds fresh today. (Edit: I’m groovin’ out to “Feel Better, Feel Good, Feel Wonderful” right now. Timeless funky soul form 2006!)

    • Ryuchi

      Bach and Chopin are dated, but people still like to listen.

    • Ryuchi

      Miles Davis called Prince the Duke Ellington of the 80s, even performed with him at Paisley Park. So I guess to each his own, taste-wise. (Miles on Miles, Interview and Encounters with Miles Davis).

  • Jack Ungerleider

    I personally blame State Senator Karin Housley. Not because of her political party but because she proposed a bill to make purple the official state color. (A proposal that has not passed the legislature from what I can tell.) Who can blame the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Minnesota Lynx or the Minnesota Twins for embracing the movement to make purple the state color? Plus the sports media reminds us that the NFL is really the only game in town and they already use purple as their main color. (^8

    • Ryuchi

      It has been said that Prince, being a Minnesota Vikings fan, adopted their colors as his own. Prince’s album ‘Gold’ is also great.

  • GT TJ

    Like a few before him, Prince is being appreciated for his significance on our arts history and culture. When people of significance die or reach a certain point of celebrity (if still living), their art is re-explored and studied. Rather that be Charles Schultz, John Lennon, Elvis, Michael, or Prince, reflections are generally long. We are still celebrating and revisiting their art. The truly great artists know that they will live on in their art. Prince shared many times that his most significant impact would come from released material in the infamous vault and reflections when he died. I am confident your point was to inspire debate and perhaps get a few clicks, but your framing was one-sided and a single perspective. We are only at the beginning of revisiting and rediscovering Prince. So hold on.

  • shawnsolo3000

    Ha! Prince is one of the greatest artists/icons/superstars/musicians in the history of the world. He put Minneapolis on the map for the entire world. Kids in Japan may not know the Minnesota Vikings, but they know Prince. Prince Rogers Nelson took the spot light of the world and shined it on his beloved city. Yet, his hometown has been reluctant to really show him love until his untimely passing.

    Think about it: there is a mural of Bob Dylan In downtown Minneapolis next to First Ave. Did that guy even acknowledge Minneapolis? No he ran away as became famous and never came back. We’ve got a statue from Mary Tyler Moore but not the purple one. Did Mary Tyler Moore even know where Lake Minnetonka is? Only lately have we as Minnesotans embraced this weird, funky, dude as our favorite son.

    I think this has been a wonderful delayed reaction and should continue for all time. It’s not about what Prince would want (which was often a mystery). It’s about how we choose to continue to honor and celebrate the Mozart of our era. We are Mid western Minnesotans; it is natural that we would slap his symbol and colors all over our sports teams. Try as people might, none of us can do him justice him musically. As has been said, nothing compares…

    • Dylan wasn’t from Minneapolis. He was from Hibbing and Duluth.

      • shawnsolo3000

        Right. The point remains: There is a HUGE mural of Bob Dylan (not from MPLS) literally a block away from where Prince made music history and put Minneapolis on the global map. This is an example of Prince’s hometown/state not really showing him the love/accolades that he probably deserved long ago.

        As I said, Minnesota, in general, have been far more eager to claim Bob Dylan as one of their own. Now, perhaps that is due to Prince’s controversial past (x-rated lyrics, imagery, etc). Perhaps it’s due to other issues such as race, age, and such…

        Now that Prince is gone. The average/everyday/mainstream Minnesota people/organizations are celebrating Prince in the best way they know: through our sports teams. Surely, these organizations weren’t going to celebrate Prince as he was breaking down racial/sexual barriers and challenging the status quo in the 80’s. Surely these mainstream corporations were not going to tie themselves to a man who spat in the face of record companies and scrawled “slave” on his face in the 90’s. However, now that he’s gone, they surely will adorn their uniforms and merchandise with his symbol now. It’s about pride and respect as much as it’s about money and commercialism*.

        *Question: When are professional sports not about money and commercialism?

    • JamieHX

      Mozart? Seriously? There is no comparison.

      • shawnsolo3000

        You are right. Prince is more funky and a better all around musician/live performer. 🙂

    • RBHolb

      Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, in part because his lyrics were more poetic than the instructions on a box of condoms.

      • shawnsolo3000

        Is this supposed to be a disparaging comment about Prince? Or an ugly reflection of your musical tastes/opinion? Either way, it fails to address the fact that Dylan never did as much for MN as Prince. Also, it seems like you have never listened to Prince’s lyrics. Try this out:

        Prince had songs that were #1 hits on the charts, in part because his voice didn’t sound like garbage.

        or

        Prince made music that appealed to more than just old white people, in part because he wasn’t just a Woody Guthrie wannabe.

        Maybe we should be nice to each other? Appreciate them both? Being snide on the internet is not that cool.

  • Molly Borden

    Prince will never fade. People love him. He is like a favorite book you like to read again and enjoy all the juicy parts.And if your not with it , then keep it moving. Let us enjoy and bask in the PURPLE haze. We need our fixes, sometimes alittle ,sometime alot, but always so delicious.