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1986 single by Prince and The Revolution

Kiss” is a song composed, written, and produced by American musician Prince. Released by the Paisley Park label as the lead single from Prince and The Revolution‘s eighth studio album Parade (1986) on February 5, 1986, it was a No. 1 hit worldwide, holding the top spot of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks. The single was certified Gold in 1986 for sales of 1 million copies by the RIAA.

The song was ranked at No. 464 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[3]NME ranked the song at No. 4 in their list of The 150 Greatest Singles of All Time,[4] and voted “Kiss” the best single of 1986.[5]

Following Prince’s death in April 2016, the song re-charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 28 and jumped to No. 23 a week later. The song also reached No. 2 on the French Singles Chart. As of April 30, 2016, it has sold 1.33 million copies in the U.S.[6]

Age of Chance and Art of Noise also released versions of the song that were critical and chart successes.

Development and release[edit]

“Kiss” started as an acoustic demo, with melody, lyrics, and basic song structure written by Prince. He gave his demo to the funk band Mazarati for their debut album, and they worked on it with producer David Z. Z recalls one of the band members recording a piano part inspired by a Bo Diddley song (he refers to the track “Hey Man”, but probably mixed up “Say Man” – which has a piano riff, and is the likely source – with “Hey! Bo Diddley“, another Diddley song with no piano).[7] In the end, Prince decided to finish the song, retaining David Z’s unique, funky rhythm and background vocal arrangement, along with Mazarati’s background vocals (David Z recounts how the band had expected a song writing credit, and were “pissed” when it did not materialise)[8]; he removed the bass line, and added signature guitar and falsetto vocal elements. For the distinctive “ah-wah-ah” backing vocals, David Z adapted vocals by Brenda Lee – one of the biggest US chart toppers in the Sixties – from her 1959/1960 hit “Sweet Nothin’s”, a single from her eponymous album.[9] The final, minimalist song was a hard sell to Warner Bros., but upon Prince’s insistence the song was released and added to Parade.[10]

Despite Warner Bros. not wanting to release it as a single, “Kiss” became Prince’s third number-one US hit following 1984’s highly successful “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy“. It was also a big hit across the Atlantic, reaching number 6 on the UK Singles Chart. The song won Prince another 29th Annual Grammy Awards for Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and was nominated for Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.[11] The song became a staple at Prince’s concerts and was usually sung partially by the audience.

The 12-inch single of the song is an extension of the album track. The extended section is based on the funky guitar line and contains much fuller instrumentation than the main track, including bass guitar, organ and horns. New lyrics are present from Prince, along with Jill Jones, that end with a humorous dialogue between a wife and her husband watching Prince on television. The B-side of “Kiss” was “♥ or $” (“Love or Money”), sung in a processed, higher-pitched vocal, which Prince would later use for his Camille material. The song relates to the theme in Under the Cherry Moon, and a bit of the song was heard in the film, as was a bit of the extended version of “Kiss”. The extended “Kiss” was included on 2006’s Ultimate; “♥ or $” was recently re-released as a digital B-side on iTunes.

Composition[edit]

The song is written in the key of A major and has a tempo of 112 beats per minute in common time.[12]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Rebecca Blake. In the plot of the video, Prince appears in a half shirt and leather jacket and then all shirtless and performs dance choreography in a hall. The trousers he wears are strip-off pants. He is accompanied by the veiled dancer Monique Mannen wearing black lingerie and sunglasses while Revolution member Wendy Melvoin sits playing guitar.

Track listings[edit]

7-inch single

  1. “Kiss” – 3:46
  2. “♥ or $” – 3:57

12-inch single

  1. “Kiss” (extended version) – 7:16
  2. “♥ or $” (extended version) – 6:50

CD single

  1. “Kiss” (extended version) – 7:16
  2. “Girls & Boys” – 5:30
  3. “Under the Cherry Moon” – 2:57

Digital download

  1. “Kiss” (Daft Punk Remix) — 4:49

Personnel[edit]

  • Prince – lead vocals and various instruments
  • Mazarati – backing vocals
  • Craig Powell – guitar
  • Tony Christian – keyboards
  • Marr Star – drums
  • Aaron Keith – drums
  • Kevin Patrick – backing vocals

Charts and certifications[edit]

Age of Chance version[edit]

“Kiss”
Age Of Chance Kiss 12'' Fon Records 1986.jpg

Fon 12-inch sleeve by The Designers Republic, orange printing

Single by Age of Chance
from the album Beneath The Pavements The Dancefloor
B-side“Crash Conscious”
ReleasedNovember 1986 (1986-11)
RecordedFon Studios, Sheffield
Length3:04
Label
  • Fon (AGE-5)
  • Virgin (outside UK)
Songwriter(s)Prince
Age of Chance singles chronology
“Bible of the Beats”
(1986)
Kiss
(1986)
“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Noise”
(1987)

An industrial[46] cover of the song was released in November 1986[47] by Age of Chance. Bass player Geoff Taylor described it as: “We basically removed the sex and replaced it with lump hammers.”[48]

The band worked out the music from hearing it in clubs and consulted Smash Hits for the lyrics,[49] although they changed them substantially.[50]

The band first recorded the track for a Peel session in June 1986, when the Prince version was still in the UK charts. They were inspired by The Fire Engines having covered Heaven 17‘s “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” for their first Peel session while that song was still in the charts. John Peel got many listener requests to play Age of Chance’s version of “Kiss” again,[51] and it made No. 2 in Peel’s Festive Fifty for 1986.[52]

The single version was recorded at Chakk‘s Fon Studios in Sheffield and released on the Fon label in the UK in November 1986. Its success led to a contract with Virgin Records, who released the single in the rest of the world.[53]

The single was accompanied by a video which received some airplay on MTV in the United States.

The sleeve was one of the first major productions by The Designers Republic, helping make their reputation. It was available in white, pink, orange or green.[48]

The band recorded a remix called “Kisspower” with Alan Smyth of Fon Studios in November 1986, using Fon’s Akai S900 sampler. It included samples from the Prince original, Bruce Springsteen, Run–D.M.C. and other artists. Virgin wanted to release it but it was vetoed by Simon Draper of Virgin America over copyright concerns.[51] It was eventually released as a run of 500 white label promotional copies.[48] If released, it would have been one of the first mainstream sample-based singles, six months before “Pump Up the Volume” and “Say Kids What Time Is It?“.[53] “Kisspower” was acclaimed as a “landmark” and a “cut’n’paste trailblazer” by musician’s magazine Electronic Sound.[51]

Critical response[edit]

On release, the single achieved Single Of The Week in Sounds 15 November 1986, which described it as “The first white band on an independent label to deliver a record that successfully crosses the alertness of hip hop and electro” and emphasised the quality of the artwork.[47]

Greil Marcus in The Village Voice 10 March 1987 called it a “trash masterpiece … Instant party, with an edge of menace.”[54]

Simon Reynolds described the single in Blissed Out: The raptures of rock as “anti-anti-pop, a gesture against indie stasis.”[55]

Track listings[edit]

7-inch (Fon AGE-5)[56] (Virgin VS-951)

A. “Kiss” (Prince & The Revolution) – 3:04
B. “Crash Conscious” (Elvidge/Howson/Perry/Taylor) – 2:54

12-inch (Fon AGE-T-5)[57] (Virgin VS-951-12)

A. “Kiss” – 3:06
B1. “Kiss” (Collision Cut) remixed by Crush Commander – 4:11
B2 “Crash Conscious” – 2:55

12-inch Jack-Knife Remixes (Fon AGE-L-5)[58]

A. “Kiss” (Sonic Crush Symphony) remixed by D.J. Chakk
B1. “Kiss” (Your Move America) remixed by D.J. Chakk
B2. “Kiss” (Leeds V The Bronx) remixed by D.J. Chakk
B3. “Crash Conscious”

;12-inch “Kisspower” (Fon AGE-X-5) (promo)[59]

A. “Kisspower” – 6:55
B. “Kisspower” – 6:55

Chart history[edit]

The single reached No. 1 on the UK Indie Charts in late 1986.[46] It spent 11 weeks on the mainstream pop charts in the United Kingdom, starting at 6 December 1986 and peaking at No. 50 in early 1987.[60]

In New Zealand it charted for four weeks, peaking at No. 21.[61]

In the United States, it spent six weeks on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart, peaking at No. 35 on 23 May 1987.[62]

The Art of Noise featuring Tom Jones version[edit]


In 1988, British synthpop group the Art of Noise released a cover of the song, featuring Welsh singer Tom Jones on vocals. Jones had added the song to his Vegas live show and the Art of Noise contacted him after seeing him perform it on TV.[63]

The song became the band’s biggest hit to that point, reaching No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart (higher than the original in that country), top 10 in several countries and No. 18 on the US dance chart.[64] It was also No. 1 in New Zealand and Spain.

The song alternates between two distinct rhythms: a fast paced 4/4 rock beat, panned entirely to the left channel; and a half-speed quiet storm-inspired percussion section. The guitar and horns break in the middle of the track musically references the themes to Dragnet and Peter Gunn (two songs the Art of Noise covered with much commercial success) as well as their own breakthrough hit, “Close (to the Edit)” and “Paranoimia“, their 1986 collaboration with Max Headroom.

This version was later included as part of an episode of the series Listed on MuchMoreMusic, which was on the Top 20 cover songs. It can also be heard during the main title sequence of the movie My Stepmother Is an Alien as well as a scene in Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy.[citation needed]

Track listings[edit]

7-inch single

  1. “Kiss” – 3:30
  2. “E.F.L.” (The Art of Noise) – 5:15

12-inch single

  1. “Kiss” (The Battery Mix) – 8:17
  2. “Kiss” (7-inch version) – 3:30
  3. “E.F.L.” – 5:15

CD single

  1. “Kiss” (7-inch version) – 3:30
  2. “E.F.L.” (The Art of Noise) – 5:15
  3. “Kiss” (The Battery Mix) – 8:17

Charts[edit]

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1988)Position
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)[77]57
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[78]49
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[79]73
Chart (1989)Position
Australia (ARIA)[80]48

References[edit]

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  4. ^ Revolution, The (2019-02-05). Kiss’ turns 33 today! The song ranked number 464 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. NME ranked the song number 4 in their list of The 150 Greatest Singles of All Time. #tunetuesday #therevolution #princepic.twitter.com/R0YVwScr20″. @therevolution. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
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  • Uptown: The Vault – The Definitive Guide to the Musical World of Prince: Nilsen Publishing 2004,ISBN 91-631-5482-X

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