I’ve spent the past 30 minutes sitting here in my chair trying to find something interesting to write about today’s song, “Silly Game.” This song came at what I consider to be a low point in Prince’s career. 1999’s Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic was supposed to be O(+>’s reintroduction to the masses after a few bumpy years in relative obscurity. Instead it was a critical and commercial bust.
“Silly Game” is a prime example of this. It’s a ballad featuring Prince’s peerless falsetto. That should be a slam dunk. Instead there’s just something lacking. It’s not nasty, funky, inspiring…nothing you’d find that made his earlier music so special appears on this track.
But he left me one little intriguing opening for me. Midway through the song he sings the lyrics, “Now why you want to go and do that, love?” Sound familiar? The same lyrics repeated by Q-Tip on Janet Jackson’s 1997 hit “Got ’til It’s Gone.” A song written by Janet Jackson along with Minneapolis natives and former members of The Time, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The song was even recorded at Flyte Tyme studios in Edina, MN. More importantly, “Got ’til It’s Gone” features Prince favorite Joni Mitchell on vocals, resurrecting the hook from her 1970 classic “Big Yellow Taxi.”
On one track that was recorded in Prince’s backyard you’ve got Janet Jackson, one of few people who could match Prince in popularity and the sister of his chief pop music rival. You’ve got Jam & Lewis, two guys Prince grew up with and eventually had fired from The Time who ended up becoming arguably the biggest hitmakers of the 1980’s and 90’s. You’ve got Q-Tip, who collaborated with Prince twice (1999’s “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold” Neptunes Remix and 2009’s “Chocolate Box” from MPLSound). Not many rappers can say they contributed verses to Prince tracks even once, much less twice. Lastly, of course, there’s Joni Mitchell, a legend on the very short list of people who deeply influenced Prince. I used to hear rumors that Prince was so arrogant that he only listened to his own music. If he didn’t, then it was a complete coincidence that the exact same line appeared in a random Prince song two years after it was featured in a Janet Jackson hit with multiple people connected to Prince.
Unfortunately, the Prince song that uses the line isn’t nearly as good as the Janet Jackson song or the Joni Mitchell song. I’m hoping for something more inspiring tomorrow.