Five Prince perfumes that would smell sweeter than 3121
A New York judge this week ordered Prince to pay a perfume maker nearly $4 million for failing to promote the 3121 line of scents that were a tie-in to the release of 2006's 3121.
This is yet another bizarre entry in the life of Prince Rogers Nelson, a life in which each successive chapter manages to be more surreal than the last. Lately, it resembles a Martin Amis novel without all the sex but with weirder pop cultural signposts.
Prince, it seems, signed a licensing agreement with Revelations Perfume and Cosmetics in 2006, which awarded Universal Music Group 50 percent of the perfume profits and came with the expectation that Prince would perform for Revelations, as well--the details of which are hazy.
Prince was also (among other things that never materialized), according to court documents, to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show, ostensibly to promote the album but to mention said fragrance, as well. Revelations spent millions of their own money promoting the fragrance, while Mr. Nelson apparently did nothing to help in its promotion and also possibly sort of impeded it by refusing to supply anything with his name or image on it to assist in the product's success.
What they got instead are silly promotional spots like this one:
Compare it to the promo for the actual album:
How it's surprising that Prince didn't honor the contract is, of course, ludicrous. As we have all seen in the past, Prince enters into arrangements that benefit only him and virtually nobody else involved in said arrangement, regardless of what it might be. He protects his image and product with a fierceness not seen since, well, ever, really.
Exhibit A: changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol for several years and painting SLAVE on his face in public in reaction to Warner Brothers' insistence on releasing the seven-year-old Black Album in 1994 and claiming it did not count toward the contract he signed with them. An album he apologized for in a semi-hidden message in the video for "Alphabet Street". An album it is widely believed he despises.
Exhibit B: nearly everything else he has done since then, almost all of which has made him vast amounts of money and left everyone else out in the cold. Prince is nothing if not a shrewd businessman who has managed to tie his legacy to his bank account. Few people can say they have done that.
The scent tie-in to 3121 in all it's apparent massive failure was the first of its kind for an album and it's mostly comforting that this sort of thing doesn't happen often because, honestly, it's kind of weird (shudder to think what a tie-in of this nature would be like for an album by Kid Rock or Marilyn Manson.) Still, it's a little disappointing that Prince didn't enter into an agreement like this sooner. By 2006, he was a Jehovah's Witness and eschewed much of his earlier catalog -- the parts of the catalog that would have been the most fun to promote and, indeed, smell like.
This may have worked better at a different time in Prince's career; a time when he was more interested in promoting himself as an cross-genre entertainer and was less of a Howard Hughes-esque recluse intent on preserving a legacy that somehow gets shakier as the years pass and his reclusiveness grows. This case -- though, honestly, it seems pretty open and shut -- is now headed for appeal, and we wish Prince the best. Here are some suggestions on other songs that could have been used for a fragrance:
Darling Nikki: The first line of the song introduces a girl with a magazine. Fragrance samples come in magazines. This may have led to some unwanted (and exceptionally tasteless) jokes around mid-'80s homesteads and the fine folks at Good Housekeeping would likely have been horrified but this would have been a good bet.
Alphabet Street: Fragrances always try to up the ante with the sense of ethereality while trying to make a bold statement in just a word or two: Obsession, White Diamonds, etc. If this had been in a squat but thin bottle (think half the width and length of an iPhone on it's side at the same depth) with a yellow and red design on the bottle and a white cube for a cap it would have been a goldmine.
Little Red Corvette: A little forced, maybe, and at the time Prince likely didn't have the clout (or wherewithal) to produce it, but you sure would have smelled fancy even if you were just slamming cans of Schmidt watching "some shit band called the Placemats or something" down at the Longhorn.
1999: The Purple One could have sent this to market at any time between '82 and '98 and you would have smelled like the future! We might be more disappointed that this didn't happen than we are about "Purple and Gold".
Purple Rain: This is possibly the most obvious moniker for a fragrance, ever. Somebody license the name immediately. We don't care if it smells like roadkill, we'll wear it.
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