Let me start this post with a confession: I don’t really get meme culture. I mean, I understand humor, sarcasm, and irony, so I understand memes to a degree. What I don’t understand is how – or maybe more accurately, why – some memes take over popular culture. I’d like to think I’m much like Prince was in that way. Prince’s relationship with the internet was shaky at best. I can’t imagine he spent a lot of time concerning himself with memes.
That’s why it’s so surprising that today’s song, “This Could Be Us” from 2014’s Art Official Age was inspired by this:
In early 2014 the hashtag #thiscouldbeusbutyouplayin took over Twitter. I’m assuming this meant that whatever happiness was taking place in the accompanying picture is what half of the couple thought they could be if the other half would stop messing around. Most of the memes contained pictures of happy animals or some other dumb shit. The one that caught Prince’s eye was a picture of himself on a motorcycle with Apollonia Kotero circa 1984. That’s all the inspriation Prince needed to create “This Could Be Us.”
“This Could Be Us” is a smooth R&B ballad addressing the same topic as the meme. Prince is ready for a relationship but his other half is too hung up on being independent and won’t commit. Midway through the song Prince definitely reaches way back to his early-80’s nasty bag of tricks with lines about licking her kitty clean and letting her put him on his back so she can “look for candy in my purple psychedelic pimp sack.” He turns in a throwback vocal performance as well with his falsetto turning in to passionate screams at points throughout the song.
Prince must’ve either dug this song or thought that he missed the mark with the original version because a remix titled “This Could B Us” (subtle spelling change) was included a year later on 2015’s Hitnrun Phase One. I prefer the remix. While the original has a more traditional R&B feel, the remix has a trippier dubstep vibe. Same lyrics, same vocal performance, but this one thumps. Prince liked the remix enough to make it the third single from that album. The single featured the same artwork as the meme that insprired the song (see above).
I thought Prince did some amazing work on Art Official Age, but as solid as “This Could Be Us” was it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. The Hitnrun remix did the trick. I’m going to give the original version a 2.5 out of 5 stars but the remix gets bumped up to 3 stars. Prince was still making funky, sexy shit well in to his 50’s. I’m guessing he’d still be doing it now. I miss him.
Before I go, I don’t normally do this, but since this is a former Prince collaborator, I’m good with it. I’ve shouted out Lianne La Havas before here, but I’ve spent most of this weekend giving her new self-titled album the listen it deserves. This makes two amazing albums in a row for her along with 2015’s Blood. Lianne worked with Prince on Art Official Age and performed with him on Saturday Night Live. Her solo work is stunning. She’s a versatile performer and her songs run the gamut of genres. I urge you to check out her work. I’m liking her post-Prince career as much as anyone who ever worked with him, maybe more.