On Episode 46 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, things get steamy when I discuss the lyrics to the sensual, seductive, and playful “International Lover” off Prince’s 1999 album. It’s an iconic ballad that, along with “Do Me, Baby,” established the Prince brand of balladry to be used as a template for countless artists. Climb aboard the Seduction 747!
“You’re riding on a first class flight. My plane’s parked right outside.”
If you thought that “Do Me, Baby” was the most audacious ballad in Prince’s discography up to the release of 1999, you’d be right. That song is bold, sensual, erotic, and it portrays Prince as a highly vulnerable lover. Then you put on the 1999 record, and it’s full of vulnerable lyrics until you reach the end of the album. After the new-wave electro weirdness of “All the Critics…,” you’re treated to “International Lover.”
The tentative, submissive Prince of “Do Me, Baby” is nowhere to be found on this track. He’s been replaced by a double entendre spewing lover-man jokester that would make Morris Day’s character in Purple Rain feel like a no-game nerd. The lyrics to “International Lover” are so laugh-out-loud funny that even Prince wasn’t able to sing them in their entirety without cracking up during 2019’s 1999 Super Deluxe Edition (Take 1 – Live in Studio) version. He knows lines like “if for any reason there’s a loss in cabin pressure, I will automatically drop down to apply more” are ridiculous. That’s the whole point (I think).
Strangely, “International Lover” was the only song from 1999 nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance. It wasn’t even an officially released single, making it an odd choice by the voters in some ways but totally warranted in others. It truly is an outstanding vocal performance, and Prince does not skimp on the technique, the primal screams, the breathy falsettos, the deep baritones, and whatever else it takes to ensure our flight aboard the Seduction 747 was a memorable one.
The goal of each episode of Press Rewind is to:
- Take a track by track look at the lyrical content of Prince’s discography
- Discuss my own interpretation of each song’s lyrics along with any guest I may have
- If submitted, discuss listener’s interpretations of each song’s lyrics
Thank you for joining me on this journey through Prince’s catalog!