Sure, you already knew that Prince was responsible for huge smash hit like “Purple Rain,” “Kiss” and “When Doves Cry,” but did you also know that the Purple One claimed a staggering 47 entries on the Billboard Hot 100, including 19 top 10s — with five of those going all the way to No. 1?
In the 20 year span between 1980 and the end of 1999, Prince charted more Hot 100 entries (44) than any other act.
The ranking below is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart, working backwards from number 20 to number 1.
Hot 100 Peak: 12, Peak Date: July 23, 1983
More than a decade before the millennium, Prince envisioned the year 2000 as a plum-colored apocalypse. “The sky was all purple,” he sings on the single from the album of the same name. “There were people runnin’ everywhere. Tryin 2 run from the destruction. U know I didn’t even care.” Why? Because he was ready to go out with a bang! With blaring synths and an irresistible beat, he rocks out like he never will again. The song holds the honor of being Prince’s longest-charting Hot 100 hit, having spent 28 weeks on the weekly tally in three separate chart runs.
“I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man” Prince
Hot 100 Peak: 10, Peak Date: February 6, 1988
Cautious of a lonely woman he met on a summer night, Prince warns her that he’s got no intention of replacing her ex. The tune, from Prince’s 1987 double album “Sign ‘O’ The Times,” notched a top 10 spot on the Hot 100 early the following year.
“Alphabet St.” Prince
Hot 100 Peak: 8, Peak Date: June 25, 1988
Prince picks up a cutie in his daddy’s Thunderbird and what follows is a funky, rap-laden dialogue between the two that hit the top 10 in 1988.
“7” Prince and The New Power Generation
Hot 100 Peak: 7, Peak Date: February 27, 1993
Over soft guitar strums and a whipping bass line Prince leads an army of the cool and the intelligent to battle against those with hate in their hearts. “They stand in the way of love and we will smoke them all,” he sings. Fittingly, the title of the track predicted its Hot 100 peak, lucky No. 7.
“I Would Die 4 U” Prince and The Revolution
Hot 100 Peak: 8, Peak Date: February 2, 1985
On top on bouncing keys, Prince professes his undying love for someone who might not even deserve it. Though his love is a sinner, he still sings that he’d make the ultimate sacrifice for that person.
Hot 100 Peak: 8, Peak Date: October 22, 1983
When Prince’s lover holds his hand, he sings on this song, his “body gets so weak.” The up-tempo third single from the “1999” album kept up a streak of top 10 hits Prince scored in 1983.
“Pop Life” Prince and The Revolution
Hot 100 Peak: 7, Peak Date: September 21, 1985
This mid-tempo single followed “Raspberry Beret” on Prince and the Revolution’s 1985 “Around the World in a Day” album. On it he sings to those living lives with no real thrills. Some are snorting and addicted. Others are just clueless and bored. Really, they just need positivity.
“Thieves in the Temple” Prince
Hot 100 Peak: 6, Peak Date: September 22, 1990
On this single from his 1990 “Graffiti Bridge” soundtrack, Prince is in terrible need to make sure he protects his love. With villains amongst him, kicking and beating, it’s a battle he won’t win unless love saves the day.
“Diamonds And Pearls” Prince and the N.P.G.
Hot 100 Peak: 3, Peak Date: February 15, 1992
Prince promises his love that he’s here to stay in this ballad from the 1991 album of the same name. “This will be the day that you will hear me say that I will never run away,” he sings with assurance. He may not have a treasure chest’s worth of jewels to give, but his he does have his love to offer.
“Little Red Corvette” Prince
Hot 100 Peak: 6, Peak Date: May 21, 1983
Prince warns a girl she’s “movin’ too fast,” but she’s got a body “on the verge of being obscene” and it’s a Saturday, so he grabs the keys and goes for a ride anyway.
“Sign ‘O’ The Times” Prince
Hot 100 Peak: 3, Peak Date: April 25, 1987
Often lauded for his songs about love and lust, Prince deserves more credit for capturing ideas outside of those dynamics. Here he gets topical, singing of drug addicts, gang members, the families and communities around them, and much more. Want to get an idea of what the late ’80s were like in America? This song features a five minute portrait some of the nation’s uglier realities.
“The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” Prince
Hot 100 Peak: 3, Peak Date: April 30, 1994
This sweet, falsetto-filled single dedicated to cherishing the gorgeous woman in his life was one of Prince’s best Hot 100 showings of the ’90s. “When the day turns into the last day of all time,” he sings. “I can say I hope you are in these arms of mine.”
“Purple Rain” Prince and the Revolution
Hot 100 Peak: 2, Peak Date: November 17, 1984
Prince’s definitive power ballad, featuring one of the best guitar solos ever, was the title track from his 1984 film of the same name. The epic, emotional, 7-minute-long heartbreak hit follows a friendship that began innocently, transformed into something deeper, then crashed
“U Got The Look” Prince
Hot 100 Peak: 2, Peak Date: October 17, 1987
A cute girl with a mean look turns Prince’s boring night at the club into something crazy upon arrival in this single from 1987’s “Sign ‘O’ The Times.” Once he sees her, the chase is on. “You walked in,” he sings to her. “I woke up.” Fans sent the track, on which Sheena Easton also appears, to No. 3 in 1987.
“Raspberry Beret” Prince and the Revolution
Hot 100 Peak: 2, Peak Date: July 20, 1985
This 1985 No. 2 is the tale of “working part time in a five-and-dime” and meeting a hottie who wore a thrift shop hat and often not much else. And though their first time wasn’t amazing, he swears he “wouldn’t change a stroke” about it.
“Batdance” (from “Batman”) Prince
Hot 100 Peak: 1, Peak Date: August 5, 1989
Prince ended the ’80s on a high note with this 1989 track, which was the key song from that summer’s blockbuster “Batman” film. The unconventional hit showcased trippy transitions from rock to funk to hip-hop and sound snippets from Batman and The Joker heard over the beats — a winning combination that sent the song all the way to No. 1.
“Cream” Prince and the N.P.G.
Hot 100 Peak: 1, Peak Date: November 9, 1991
With naughty lyrics like “You’ve got the horn so why don’t you blow it?” and a breathy lyrical delivery, Prince and the New Power Generation’s sexy mid-tempo song from 1991’s “Diamonds and Pearls” album earned two weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100.
“Let’s Go Crazy” Prince and the Revolution
Hot 100 Peak: 1, Peak Date: September 29, 1984
Opening with a solemn “dearly beloved” and heavenly organ chords, and blasting into an even more heavenly guitar riff, Prince got us “gathered here today to get through this thing called life” in this raucous, glass-half-full 1984 rocker. “Are we going to let the elevator bring us down?” he asks. “Oh, no!” This “Purple Rain” single spent two weeks at No. 1.
“Kiss” Prince and the Revolution
Hot 100 Peak: 1, Peak Date: April 19, 1986
On this inspired hit from 1986’s “Parade,” Prince lists what’s needed to rule his world. Financial wealth and dirty talk aren’t necessary. Maturity and availability are, though. The smooth, funk-influenced track about the “women not girls” he’s looking for perched at the top of the Hot 100 for two weeks.
“When Doves Cry” Prince and the Revolution
Hot 100 Peak: 1, Peak Date: July 7, 1984
Prince’s landmark 1984 jam blended a two-part storyline involving a rough parental dynamic and a dangerously passionate relationship with a new love atop a crescendoing, guitar-laden groove. A standout track among many standouts from the soundtrack of his “Purple Rain” film, Prince’s “When Doves Cry” ruled the Hot 100’s top spot for for five weeks. It rules as his longest-running No. 1. h/t billboard
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