Prince, Diamonds and Pearls
I can say, without equivocation or pimply hyperbole or excessive superlative, that Diamonds and Pearls
is the greatest pop song of all time. No question. It’s got it all: funky tight rhythms, catchy melodies, affecting and natural choruses, light but definitive hooks and the surest pop touch (the kind of pop mastery that Prince would barely shrug his shoulders at). Chintzy synth lines, call and response vocals and harmonies, soul-pop vibes and trademark guitar licks, and supremely tight / varied changes (indeed, about four times the amount of changes you’d expect in a basic hit, including a major key change and turnaround). And it never seems to waver for a second, every part interlocks and leads to the next, every drum fill / lick sits right, it’s perfectly crafted and flowing. Super slick and layered production values with ferocious bottom and typically deep snare attack. I remember an interview with Michael B saying they nailed it in a single take in Japan or someplace; which, considering how long it’s taken me to ge the whole bass part down, is testament to superior musicianship. Listen to the subtle bass-behind-the beats between Sonny T and Michael B from 1:20 (‘Which one of us is right…’) to about 1:40 – supremely funky and deep in the pocket. The pompous key change to D# at 2:06 leads to tight funk at 2:24, repeating the opening bass riff. Sonny’s work is amazingly tight and nuanced at every point; it’s not until you play along that his pacing and emphasis come out clearest. Compared to the rather straight-ahead Cream
has all the intricacy of a Swiss timepiece. Pure pop with deep pocket grooves and vocals stacked on top. Catchy as all hell. Pure Prince.