‘Purple Rain’: How the Movie and the Music Influenced Popular Culture

purple-rainCalling Prince legendary is an understatement. For the last 30 years the Purple One has blessed us with hit after hit, moment after moment, treasure after treasure.  We all have our individual favorite moments and songs.  “Little Red Corvette,” “Kiss,”  “Adore”–they all arguably have moments in our lives. One thing that most Prince fans cannot deny, however, is the impact of Purple Rain and its accompanying film starring Morris Day, Apollonia Kotero, and of course, Prince Rogers Nelson himself.

Purple Rain the film is definitely an acquired taste.  It’s awkwardly edited, the dialogue is questionable and as far as the acting? The majority of the cast were musicians, not actors, so that should tell you something.  Still, it is a cult classic with a loyal following who attend screenings every year to cheer on The Kid and marvel at Prince’s stage presence in every extended performance scene, and there are plenty.  The film was a vehicle to showcase Prince’s immense talent, and did just that.

The soundtrack is a whole different story. It is quite simply a masterpiece.  As Prince’s 6th studio album, it was his first with official backing from The Revolution, which lead to a fuller sound than on his previous records.  “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” both went to #1, while “Purple Rain,” the song many consider to be Prince’s magnum opus, went to #2 and influenced a generation.  The Purple Rain soundtrack is, for many, the best and most important album of the 1980s and won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score in 1985.

Prince’s music, and specifically Purple Rain, has influenced an insane number of modern day artists, including Miguel, Justin Timberlake, The Dream, The Weeknd, Robin Thicke, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga.  The performance scenes in the film have all but been remade by these artists, and they all admit to having taken from the legend. He is of course still at it, releasing new music as recently as last month. One thing is for certain, however. No matter what he produces today, Purple Rain for most will always be his most important contribution to music, and one of the most influential albums of all time.

-Jessica Bennett

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