84: Dance 4 Me

MPLSound (2009)
2001’s Supercute felt like the final chapter in a subset of Prince songs where he lusts after a dancing girl. The way he hid behind a third-person perspective (“she comes to see him, him as in me”) you sensed he no longer felt comfortable playing the role of a voyeur of women half his age. He even sung about not wanting to see you dance in The Dance three years later. Then, in the year Sexy Dancer entered her fourth decade, Hot Thing became older than its girl of barely 21 and Sexy MF reached the age of consent in Minnesota, Prince once again pens an ode to a sexy dancer, telling her she gets him hot. The old urges are still there. But unlike on his self titled album where he loses the power of speech and heavy breathes over a simple raw groove, here he retains his faculties to describe the subject of his gaze and her attire in detail while the music gets increasingly more baroque. The power dynamic has changed. He’s not a relatively unknown youngster in thrall of a force of nature beyond his control, he’s a king looking down at a courtesan cavorting for him. It’s the tension between this situation and his latter-day beliefs that make Dance 4 Me one of his greatest songs of the 2000s. The Camille voice is a sure sign he wants to distance himself from the lyrics and he can throw in as many hallelujahs as he likes but it only serves to highlight the funky nastiness that gushes out when Prince overrides the better angels of his nature.