I just asked Siri to play “Partyman” by Prince and she replied, “OK, here’s Partyman by Prince.” That’s not significant, except that she pronounced it Partymin like it was someone’s last name. Try it for yourself. I laughed out loud. You had to be there.
The timing on this post is good since I’ve been on a bit of a Batman kick recently. A few weeks ago I was at one of my favorite record stores – Strictly Discs in Madison, WI – and came across the Batman soundtrack on both vinyl and cassette. The vinyl was one of the few remaining Prince LPs that I didn’t own on vinyl so I jumped all over that. The cassette was only $3, so why the fuck not, right?
Strictly Discs does a cool thing on Saturdays where they take pics of what their customers are buying on vinyl and they post them to Instagram. When I got to the register the guy asked me if he could take my picture with my Batman record and cassette for IG. I said, “Absolutely, but let it be known that I’m a Prince collector. The fact that they’re both Batman is a coincidence.” He said, “I know,” which caught me off guard. Does he recognize me and think, “Oh, there’s the guy that comes in here five times a year and buys everything in the used Prince section?” I hope so. Either way, check out the Batboy in the picture above!
One more stupid factoid about that picture: I don’t normally walk around in polo shirts unless I’m on some business casual shit at work. However, that weekend we went to Madison for one night and the only other shirt I packed was a Strictly Discs t-shirt. I would’ve felt like a fanboy dork going to Strictly Discs in my Strictly Discs shirt so I put on my work shirt from the day before. When I pulled the Strictly Discs shirt out of my duffel bag that morning I thought to myself, “If they take my picture and put it on IG and I’m wearing a Strictly Discs shirt I’m gonna look like an ass.” I have no idea why I’m telling you this.
Since I got the vinyl I’ve been spinning it frequently, so “Partyman” is fresh in my head. “Partyman” was a top 20 hit from the Batman soundtrack and was prominently featured in the movie. It’s the song that’s playing while The Joker struts around defacing artwork, showing off for fine ass Vicki Vale. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen Batman in a while. I tried to sell my 11-year-old son on how cool it was recently so we sat down to watch it. Didn’t Batman break the mold when it came to visual effects? In 2020 it looks dated as fuck. I’m not exaggerating when I say the movie looked so old I legitimately thought we were watching some old Adam West Batman shit by mistake. It reminded me of the Beastie Boys “Body Movin’” video. We didn’t get far in to the movie before my son lost interest and that was the end of my attempt to force the Michael Keaton Batman movies on him. What little I do recall from seeing the movie 30 years ago is that the Prince soundtrack is mostly background music, but “Partyman” is the one song that’s featured. I need to watch it again and confirm that.
“Partyman” is kind of what you’d expect. Definitely the made-for-radio song from the soundtrack. Fun, uptempo music with big keyboards and guitars blaring. Prince has the high pitched “Camille” effect on his voice a la “Housequake.” My opinion on the Batman soundtrack before I bought the vinyl a month ago was that – much like the movie – it was really dated. Here’s my updated take: The whole album doesn’t sound dated, but the hits definitely do. I listen to “Batdance” now and can’t believe that song hit #1. It’s a hard dance beat with quotes from the movie sampled and strewn throughout the song. There’s little structure or singing. That has to be on a short list of the strangest songs ever to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Partyman” has structure, but still sounds too much like the 80’s. It’s certainly not breaking any new ground musically. Again, I’m assuming there was a request for a radio-friendly hit on the soundtrack to be used during the movie, but it’s actually one of the weaker tracks on the album. “The Future,” “Vicki Waiting,” and “Scandalous” are great tracks and “Electric Chair” is one of my sleeper Prince favorites. We’ll get to that one someday. “Partyman” is bland by comparison.
Today I guess I’m here to say that “Partyman” is one of the few Prince hits that I’m not into. It’s not bad, and it’s a fun song. When I DJ my long awaited post-COVID All-Prince Basement Party it will be on the playlist. But, I can easily list at least a hundred Prince songs that I prefer. I look forward to making my argument for “Electric Chair” as a Prince classic.