Another day, another classic Prince ballad. Yesterday was the warmup. Today we reach the apex. “Adore” is on another level. Where to start…
You’ve heard ad nauseam about Prince the multi-instrumentalist. It’s so easy to get caught up in one or two facets of his greatness and completely miss others. He was a virtuoso on so many instruments that what is often forgotten – at least by me – is the fact that he had a voice so great it’s impossible to replicate. Don’t get me started on people who cover Prince songs. You don’t imitate Prince. It’s impossible. You pay tribute as best you can. Nobody can do Prince instrumentally or vocally.
“Adore” is Prince’s submission to the voters for consideration as the greatest vocalist in all of popular music. Nobody else could sing this song the way Prince did. I’m not even sure it’s singing. He routinely hits notes in “Adore” that I didn’t know were possible. It’s heavenly noise. “Adore” is the rare occasion Prince song where the instruments are reduced to background noise. They exist only to keep a beat so Prince can flaunt his otherworldly falsetto. Sometime early in the second verse the concept of song structure disappears and it’s just Prince seemingly improvising for an indefinite amount of time. I would like to say that the band just kept the beat and waited for Prince’s cue to start the chorus again, but of course, the band is Prince. He plays all instruments on this song except for horns. It’s surprising to me that Prince played all instruments on this track because it sounds live. Without researching I would’ve guessed that this was recorded at a concert.
Let’s talk about lyrics for a second because “Adore” could also be submitted for the songwriting Hall of Fame if such a thing existed. Just read the chorus:
Until the end of time
Eye’ll be there for U
U own my heart and mind
Eye truly adore U
If God one day struck me blind
Ur beauty Eye’d still see
Love is 2 weak 2 define
Just what U mean 2 me
Once again I’ll visit the second verse of this song. A mix of heartfelt sentiment, mild shit talking, sex, and even a little bit of comedy. Prince takes what you think a song should sound like and throws it out the window. I’m not going to post all of the lyrics. Here’s a link. There’s just really nothing quite like Prince’s work on “Adore.”
I’ve heard Questlove say that “Adore” was Prince’s answer to people who said that he wasn’t making music for black people anymore. If that’s true, “Adore” is Prince saying, “Oh yeah, motherfuckers. Listen to this.” It’s classic soul but feels like gospel. I once read someone (I wish I could give the person credit, but I cannot remember) say that this song is equally suitable for a wedding or the bedroom. Well said.
Many (most?) people believe “Adore” is Prince’s greatest ballad. I’m not ready to go that far. It’s definitely on the short list. Is “The Beautiful Ones” a ballad? What is really a ballad, anyway? Does it matter? “Adore” is a stunning song and a vocal performance like none other. I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars only because I prefer Prince’s funky stuff to his ballads. Regardless of preference, “Adore” is undeniably great.