“Who are you?” “I’m Batman.”
Prince released a total of five singles, four in the U.S., from the Batman soundtrack in 1989 and 1990. Fans were accustomed to remixes and original material to accompany these single releases, and while this project was unlike any project Prince had created (a soundtrack to a film he had no involvement in), the expectation for must-own 7″ and 12″ singles had been established. How did these singles stack up to his prior work?
Batdance (The Batmix & Vicki Vale Mix) – These William Orbit and Mark Moore remixes could be found on the “Batdance” 12″ single that was released ahead of the soundtrack. The Batmix has a club feel to it and includes numerous samples, just like the original track it is based on. The most notable samples are from Prince’s original “Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic,” including the entire chorus repeated multiple times. The Vicki Vale Mix focuses on the “stop the press, who is that” portion of “Batdance” as the basis for the remix. Both remixes are fun and unique ways to create new songs from familiar elements of the hit song they were based on.
200 Balloons – The beat thumps, and the lyrics tell us it’s party time, but is there more than meets the ears here? Is this a case of a song where Prince was juggling a couple of different themes? Primarily, it appears to be a song designed to soundtrack a film scene where the Joker throws a parade and tosses money into the crowd, only to distract them from the poisonous gases he releases from his parade balloons. However, it can also be interpreted to recall a party that might preface the rapture. A rave unto the joy fantastic, possibly? This intriguing B-side to “Batdance” thumps, but it was definitely not right for the soundtrack, despite its clear Batman connections.
Partyman (Video Mix & Purple Party Mix) – These Femi Jiya and Prince remixes work by extending the party vibe of the original album and single. Candy Dulfer joins the Prince camp with a memorable play on words (“When I want sax, I call Candy.”) The Video Mix is the version of the song you get with the extended “Partyman” music video while the Purple Party Mix starts with samples of some of Prince’s earlier hits (“I Wanna Be Your Lover,” “1999,” “Erotic City,” et al.) before morphing into a mash-up of “Partyman,” “Batdance,” “Housequake” and basically any other party/dance song Prince ever recorded in the ’80s. It’s a really fun and different take on the track.
Feel U Up – Camille’s getting frisky, and there’s no stopping them on this “Partyman” B-side. The early version, dating back to the 1999 sessions, is raw and dirty, just like the lyrics. The lyrics from the 1986 version, released in 1989, remain mostly unchanged, but the music has a more sophisticated sound thanks to Prince’s obsession with horns. It doesn’t really matter which version you prefer, as the outcome is funky either way. I recommend the Long Stroke version from the “Partyman” 12-inch.
I Love U In Me – A song so nice, Prince used it as a B-side twice, first as the B-side to Batman’s “The Arms of Orion,” then from Diamonds & Pearls’ “Insatiable.” Does it deserve so much love? Prince thought so, although I find the song pleasant if unremarkable. Prince uses a lot of predictable rhymes in the verses before confounding us with the “when she’s making love, it’s like surgery” analogy. I can’t say that I consider surgery to be a sexy event. Regardless, “I Love U In Me” is harmless, despite its explicit while not raunchy lyrics.
The Scandalous Sex Suite (The Crime, The Passion, The Rapture) – The “Scandalous” 12″ maxi-single contained 3 remixes on Side A, subtitled The Crime, The Passion, & The Rapture. The Crime is what I consider a smooth jazz remix with its breezy Eric Leeds as Kenny G sax playing. It’s also known for its double-entendre-filled conversation between Kim Basinger and Prince.
Kim: “It’s so dark in here.”
Prince: “I can see you.”
Kim: “What do I look like?”
The Passion is a more straightforward and less abstract instrumental version of “Scandalous” than The Crime was. The sound is more synth-heavy, using the same (or similar) synth sounds as what was heard at the beginning and end of the Lovesexy album. Prince adds layers of vocals behind his main vocal for a choir-like effect. He also adds new lyrics in this version’s bridge 2/3 of the way through the song. The additional lyrics definitely live up to the song’s name.
“Talk to me, pretty warm thing. Tell me when you come one time.”
The Rapture starts off with a bang – a rapturous guitar solo from Prince that lasts almost the entire first half of the song. It’s a great way to differentiate itself from the first two remixes and immediately let the listener in on The Rapture’s goal – to blow your mind. The song’s second half treads similar territory as The Crime. We hear Eric’s sax return, as does the Kim/Prince dialogue interplay. It’s smart to tie all three remixes together since it’s essentially one long 20-minute track with no breaks.
Kim: “Where am I?”
Prince: “Where do you want to be?”
Kim: “Right here.”
All three remixes are distinct but meld together perfectly thanks to the common beat behind them and the continuous slow-jam vibe each one has. It’s a 20-minute sexy-playful course through “Scandalous'” many facets.
Sex – It’s not exactly the sex song we thought we would get from Prince, but it’s the sex song that makes the most sense for where his head was in 1989. Monogamy, trust, safer sex. The mantra of a man that spent the better part of the decade sowing his wild oats and taking advantage of the perks of stardom. Now in his 30s, Prince seemed ready to settle down, and he wanted to use this opportunity to continue his agenda – spirituality + love = mind-blowing sex. The slinky groove that permeates the song helps guide us in the right direction.
The Future & Electric Chair (Remixes) – While neither of these songs were released as singles in North America, Europe was not only treated to a single release for “The Future” but also a maxi-single release that included remixes of both tracks. William Orbit and Mark Moore return to pump up these jams to represent club bangers instead of the moody dance tracks that they were initially. I still prefer the album versions of both songs, but it’s cool these exist.
Score: 4/5 for both
Did you get it all? There’s a lot to cover from this era, so I hoped you’d either remember some great songs you haven’t heard in a while or maybe some tracks you’ve never heard before. Regardless of your familiarity with the Batman-era B-sides and remixes, there’s a ton of music to keep your party, or your sexy-time, going as long as you need it to.