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'Purple Rain' is the best song of the '80s, says Pitchfork

Prince in the movie "Purple Rain"

Prince in the movie "Purple Rain"

Prince's 1984 hit "Purple Rain" is the ultimate track of the 1980s, if we're to believe the indie-rock kingmakers over at Pitchfork.

The music website published its 200 Best Songs of the 1980s list earlier today, and Minneapolis icon Prince edged out Michael Jackson, N.W.A., New Order, and Public Enemy to claim the top spot. Writes Pitchfork's Anupa Mistry:

"No one in modern pop music, except maybe Beyoncé, can touch Prince’s legacy as a perfectionist. The man, with his wardrobe and rude falsetto and kinetic performances, had perfected "flawless" decades before Bey made a song about it. And so it’s staggering to comprehend that the version of "Purple Rain" beloved by lovers and sensualists around the world was recorded live in the moment, on stage at a Minneapolis benefit concert in the summer of 1983." 
"Purple Rain" is one of five Purple One tracks dotting the list; Twin Cities rock legends Hüsker Dü and the Replacements each made the cut. Pop megastar Janet Jackson — whose Reagan-era collabs with Minneapolis producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis helped define her sound as well as the "Minneapolis sound" — charted with "Control" (No. 126), "When I Think of You" (No. 48), and “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” (No. 27). Former Prince protege Sheila E., she of "The Glamorous Life" fame, came in at No. 160.

Among the Minnesota-affiliated entries: 

  • Hüsker Dü (1984) — No. 164: "Pink Turns Blue" ("a hardcore rumination on death, transience, and uncertainty") 
  • The Replacements (1985) — No. 150: "Bastards of Young" ("perhaps the definitive Replacements track")  

  • Prince (1980) — No. 69: "When You Were Mine" ("simultaneously his most innocuous and his most brash") 

  • The Replacements (1987) — No. 66: "Alex Chilton" ("an anthem about the best band that should've been") 

  • Prince and the Revolution (1984) — No. 33: "I Would Die 4 U" ("stands out as the time Prince most urgently made his intentions known" 

  • Prince and the Revolution (1986) — No. 21: "Kiss" ("unimaginably fresh and alien") 

  • Prince and the Revolution (1984) — No. 11: "When Doves Cry" ("the cap on his rise and the root of his myth")  

  • Prince and the Revolution (1984) — No. 1: "Purple Rain" ("the glorious sound of escape") 

Bob Dylan — who began the '80s in his Christian-music phase and concluded it with critical duds — failed to place. The lack of "Funkytown," released in 1980 by Minneapolis funk/R&B act Lipps, Inc., is something of a snub. You could also make a case for Information Society's 1988 synth-pop hit "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)."

Last month, experimental indie-rock stars TV on the Radio covered "Purple Rain" at First Avenue (see below); Kelly Clarkson interpreted the Prince classic at her Xcel show earlier this month