Today marks my ninth trip back to Prince’s 1996 Emancipation album in the past four months. I’ve made it clear at this point that the mid-1990’s is my least favorite era of Prince music. However, that’s like saying the first season of Parks and Recreation is my least favorite, or Episode I of Star Wars is my least favorite. I still enjoy my least favorite Prince music more than most.
I don’t have a lot to say about today’s song, “Saviour,” but I do have a few thoughts. First off, why the British spelling? I can’t find an answer, so I’m sincerely asking. When I hear Prince singing about a savior I assume that he’s singing about God. I wouldn’t refer to God as Jehovah in this case as Prince didn’t become a baptized Jehovah’s Witness until 2003. I know that Prince was raised a Seventh Day Adventist and believed in God. It came as a surprise to me that the savior he’s singing about is not God, but a woman. I would’ve thought someone as devout as Prince would find it blasphemous to refer to anyone but God as a savior. However, the textbook definition of savior is “a person who saves another person or a thing from danger or harm.” In Christianity we’re accustomed to God and Jesus being referred to as saviors, but it’s completely fair for Prince to sing a song about a woman being his savior. This reminds me of D’Angelo naming his 2014 album Black Messiah, giving people the impression that he was calling himself a God. The definition of messiah is a leader or savior of a particular group or cause. There’s nothing in there about a messiah being a deity. D’Angelo is deeply religious and wouldn’t knowingly refer to himself as a God. I’m certain Prince put serious thought in to writing and singing “Saviour” before he did it. I know he wouldn’t take something like that lightly.
As for the song itself, I feel like I’ve heard it before. Prince has a list of similar mid-90’s power ballads. You could fill an album with them. “Saviour” is a beautiful sentiment and a lovely song, but it’s a bit vanilla for Prince. I much prefer a song like “Adore” if I’m choosing a Prince love song. This song is a heartfelt love song and doesn’t contain a hint of the nastiness or sexuality that made him famous 15 years earlier. Not that a Prince song requires those things, but a song like “Saviour” is a far cry from a song like “Adore” that conveyed love, but also had a signature Prince nasty streak.
To put it bluntly, I find “Saviour” to be boring. It doesn’t showcase Prince or the New Power Generation’s musical talent. Sure, he had every right to make a sincere love song, but it’s just not my thing.