This one is complicated. There are multiple versions of “Xtralovable” (with multiple spellings of the title) and I like all of them.
I first heard “Xtralovable” on 2015’s Hitnrun Phase Two, the final album released in Prince’s lifetime. It was funky enough that I Googled it at the time and found out that the song had a long history. A YouTube search revealed the original version of the song recorded in 1982. It’s a masterpiece. Funky as hell, uptempo, and nasty. Heavy on electric guitar, which he wasn’t doing a lot of quite yet at that time. Classic infectious Linn drum.
The song is over seven minutes long and it’s one of those classic Prince tracks that’s so good it could go on for twice that long and I wouldn’t complain. Then near the six minute mark I was like, “Did he just say he’s on the verge of rape?” Then some dark guitar effects feel like a slap in the face as Prince casually says, “I’m sorry. I’m just gonna have to rape you.” Whoa. I know 1982 was a different time, but that’s fucked up regardless.
So, what now? Saying, “I love that song right up until the rape part,” is kind of like saying, “I love OJ Simpson except for the time he murdered those people.” Prince was not a rapist. Not only was he never accused, but women who were with him say the opposite. I can look past a guy in 1982 making an ill-advised rape reference in a song. It’s not like he did it. Still…it sure doesn’t sit right. Listen for yourself.
In my mind there’s an easy fix: Fade out at the 6:00 mark. No harm done. The rest of the song is no more explicit than anything else he was doing at the time. It’s Kidz Bop content compared to some of the stuff on Dirty Mind. This song is so good up to that point it deserves to be heard. When the 1999 Super Deluxe Edition was released I couldn’t wait to finally hear a properly mastered, non-bootleg version of it. The track list was released shortly before the album and I was thrilled to see what felt like a thousand previously unreleased tracks. “Extraloveable” was nowhere to be found. I completely understand the decision to leave the rape song out. I was hoping for a compromise and an early fade out. I guess not. The original version will live on in the dark corners of YouTube.
Prince must’ve liked the song because he came back to it nearly 30 years later. In 2011 he released a completely re-recorded version of it as a standalone single. It finally surfaced on an album in 2015. Still funky, but much more polished. Far more appropriate lyrics and a tight horn section. It’s the PG rated fun and flirty version.
Here’s how I score this song:
Extraloveable (Original Version) first six minutes: 5 out of 5 stars
Extraloveable (Original Version) post 6:00 mark: -5 out of 5 stars
Xtralovable (Hitnrun Phase Two Version): 3 out of 5 stars