Rembert Explains the ’80s: Prince, ‘Purple Rain’

Welcome back to our series Rembert Explains the ’80s. Every so often, we’ll e-mail 25-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn’t seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching the video, then we’ll post those thoughts here. This week’s installment was selected by Rembert Browne, BECAUSE IT’S STILL BLACK HISTORY MONTH AND I’M CALLING THE SHOTS: “Purple Rain” by Prince. If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the ’80s, e-mail us at hollywood@grantland.com.

[Note: This was picked not only because of Black History Month but also in honor of the Academy Awards and Purple Rain (the album) taking home the award for Best Original Song Score in 1985.]

0:06 Perfection.

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Throughout this clip, we can’t forget that, yes, this is Prince in front of us, but in Purple Rain he’s known as “The Kid.” Also, if you’ve never seen Purple Rain, now would be a good time to close this browser and watch it immediately.

0:17 No one has a more fantastic left eye than Prince.

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If I were blessed with such a soul-penetrating left eye, I’d throw my curls over my lackluster right eye too.

0:20 Uh-oh, The Kid. Don’t freeze up. Everyone’s counting on you.

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EVERYONE.

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I’ll never really forgive myself for not being a teenager in 1985. This was most certainly my time to shine. Common household appliances could be turned into belts, hats associated with very specialized professions could be worn by all, and there were no rules as to how much one could let his curl curl.

Such a missed opportunity.

0:28 SAY SOMETHING, THE KID

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It’s like the Illuminati/Freemason eye in the pyramid on the dollar, but more impressive. Prince’s left eye might just be humanity’s greatest eye.

0:34 Thirty-four seconds have gone by and Prince still hasn’t spoken. Classic Prince.

0:41 Make that 41 seconds.

0:43 Oh, he cleared his throat. Proof of vocal cords.

0:45 Here we go:

“I’d like to dedicate this to my father.”

Even when you’ve seen this film 20 times, and know how deep Prince’s voice is, you’re still caught off guard by house deep Prince’s voice is. If the whole music-career thing hadn’t worked out, he could have been a wildly successful “Slow Jams, 10-to-midnight” radio DJ.

0:53 Keep talking, The Kid:

It’s a song the girls in the band wrote — Lisa and Wendy.”

Hey Wendy.

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Hey Lisa.

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In my mind, they say “Hey Rembert” back. Every time.

1:13 FIRST CHORD

1:21 Shout-out to Wendy for matching her teal guitar with her teal blazer.

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Simply the stuff of legends.

1:27 Find me a more beautiful song. I dare you.

1:31 TIME TO SING.

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Sorrow. Pain. Laughing. Purple Rain.

1:52 Is it possible to make it through this entire song without weeping? Asking for a friend.

2:06 The crowd doesn’t know how to react to “Purple Rain, Puhhhrrple Rain”

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Presumably because they’ve never heard anything this beautiful before.

2:12 You have to love the dudes in the room who are so stressed out by the emotion onstage, they’re smoking cigarettes.

2:22 I won’t dedicate a ton of time to Prince’s wardrobe, because words don’t do it justice, but that white bib turtleneck ascot presentation on his neck is flawless.

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2:41 When The Kid says, “I never wanted to be your weekend lover,” he means it. Which is why he has to leave the microphone for a moment.

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It’s just too much.

3:18 Never forget that Prince has a guitar and knows how to use it. I know, between his face and his voice, it’s hard to overlook, but him playing guitar is everything.

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3:27 Why was any music recorded after this song? With one minor exception for “Pop That” last year, this should have been it.

3:45 Another thing not to lose sight of: Prince’s ever-so-faint facial hair.

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There is both a mustache and a five o’clock shadow taking place on his face, and let us never forget to honor them.

3:48 “HONEY I KNOW”

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“I KNOW”

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“I KNOW TIMES ARE CHANGING”

I straight-up can’t breathe right now. In about 45 seconds, I will be blogging from the grave.

3:55 Prince’s music is genre-less, but if I had to name it anything, I’d call it “FutureStank/SoulTears.”

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It’s always nice to state your beliefs and then have them immediately proven correct.

4:04 “THAT MEANS YOU TOO”

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He just pointed at my left shoulder, and now my left shoulder is crying. There’s no way I will make it through all eight minutes alive.

4:14 Hey, Prince, do that thing where you point to your head.

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4:17 Awesome. OK, this time, do that but use more fingers.

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I love Prince.

4:29 This guy is such a waterworks at this point, he had to throw on the shades.

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I’ve been there. I am there.

4:36 No one has ever looked this sad.

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This is the last time his face was tearless. Like, for the rest of his life.

4:43 The Kid just got the crowd.

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5:03 The things Prince is about to do to this guitar should be illegal.

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He’s too good. He’s too powerful.

5:05 The craziest part about this song is that we’re not even at the emotional part.

5:24 Not even shades can hide the emotions in those eyes. Also: a slight lip quiver.

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Everyone thinks they’re tough until they’re placed within a 20-foot radius of “Purple Rain.”

5:30 Big fan of this angle on Prince. It’s very Scissorhandsian.

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5:37 This is the point of the song when even Prince’s guitar starts weeping.

5:48 Update: now typing from the grave.

6:02 It’s like Prince and his fingers and his guitar are battling each other, but also fighting the same fight.

6:23 The crowd members are swaying their arms, but no one’s that excitable because they’ve fallen under a spell.

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They’re under complete mind control. Thankfully, The Kid only uses his powers for good. Thank you so much, The Kid.

6:27 Uh-oh, here it comes. Bye, everyone.

6:30 “Woooooooooooooohoooooooooooohoooooooooooooooo”

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I’m pregnant.

7:01 So is he:

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7:25 I’m about to black out, but before I do, this happens:

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Followed by this:

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I’m so cold.

Wait, what is that white light?

Where are you taking me?

7:46 Final Note:

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Bye.

Filed Under: Prince, Rembert Explains

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Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert