By Matt Fleming. Here at DoomRocket, we don’t often get to grieve over the loss of superstars whose mark was made away from the realm of comics, film, or television. However, with the sudden passing of American treasure/music icon Prince (and in coincidence, with the return of RetroGrading), we decided to take a brief look back at an album of original material that served as a bizarrely brilliant soundtrack to the 1989 film, Batman. In addition to Danny Elfman’s fantastic score, The Purple One dropped nine tracks variously half-related to The Dark Knight’s cinematic resurgence, and unsurprisingly, the record sold like gangbusters. Here’s a brief glimpse back on one of the strangest releases the late icon ever unleashed upon our grateful bat-ears.
Track 1. “The Future” — This song is an upbeat, dancey number loosely tied into a sample of The Joker mentioning what has yet to come. It’s a pretty standardly solid Prince track, the kind you could expect on Graffiti Bridge. Come to think of it, I wonder how many of these tracks were rejected for Prince’s Purple Rain sequel.
Track 2. “Electric Chair” — A mid-tempo stalker jam, spiritually related to stuff like Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night.” It’s worth noting that, although there are several criminal elements at play in Batman, nobody is ever threatened with this arcane form of execution.
Track 3. “In The Arms Of Orion” — Sung from the perspective of Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale, this duet with Sheena Easton is the “On The Wings Of Love” of the record, which is to say it’s a bit underwhelming and overly sentimental for The Purple God. Better suited for a more adult version of An American Tail.
Track 4. “Partyman” — The second track featured in the film (during the museum dust-up), this is classic Prince funk. Fun fact: nine-year-old me created a fictional pro wrestling character based on this song, which served as my entrance music. My finisher was called “The Party Crash.” This song rules.
Track 5. “Vicki Waiting” — This is a low-rent version of “Darling Nikki” that resembles a song I once wrote about the movie End Of Days. Prince mentions Gotham City, which is more than most of these tracks. Eh, it’s just fine.
Track 6. “Trust” — This up-tempo jam plays during The Joker’s Gotham City Festival parade, wherein he implores Gotham’s citizens to trust him as he attempts to poison them to death. Has the same feel as “Controversy,” but on speed.
Track 7. “Lemon Crush” — Okay, this was definitely cut from Under The Cherry Moon or Graffiti Bridge. This song has so little to do with Batman, and is so meh, that it must have always been destined for the B-side.
Track 8. “Scandalous!” — This is a traditional slow jam about banging, including audible groans. To be honest, it’s pretty sexy, if having nothing to do with Batman. I guess this was supposed to play over the deleted sex scene between Bruce and Vicki. (Imagine Batman meets 9 1/12 Weeks, if you dare.)
Track 9. “Batdance” — Here it is, the hit that basically serves as an avant-garde/funk fusion summary of the movie. The video features Prince as a hybrid of The Joker and Two-Face (for some reason), and the song actually mentions Batman by name. It was a novelty hit at the time, and is still pretty groovy.
All in all, this is easily the best Batman-related Prince album we could have asked for. An example of a great artist writing songs at a feverish pace, some of which definitely mention Batman, this record managed to sell eleven million copies. Honestly, I’m shocked DoomRocket headquarters doesn’t have this tape kicking around, especially considering the number of copies of the movie we keep nearby. Underrated? Certainly.
But remember: this was freaking Prince. Like another legend we lost this year (in David Bowie), there are a lot of misses among the hits. If this album had been called Dark Knights: Songs Inspired By Batman, it would have played exactly in line with the enigma that was The Purple One. Do yourselves a favor and schedule a double feature this week of Batman and Purple Rain. You won’t be disappointed, because even though he is no longer with us, Prince still makes things so much more awesome.