The Real Meaning Behind Prince’s ‘Kiss’

In 1986, Prince released the iconic song, “Kiss,” to great success. The single hit number one in the U.S., and the late musician took home the Grammy Award for best R&B vocal performance, according to Billboard. But the story of how the now classic tune came to be is a convoluted and interesting one.

Contrary to public belief, the song was not originally written to be recorded by Prince, but rather a man named Mark Brown, according to Far Out magazine. Brown was a member of Prince’s band, The Revolution, who left to form the group, Mazarati, in 1986. He reached out to Prince to see if he had any leftover songs he could record for his debut album, leading the artist to write “Kiss” for Brown and his new band. However, Brown later worked out the backing funky groove, and Prince loved what it added to the song, so he decided to record it himself and offered Brown a writing credit. In the end, however, Brown claimed to Uncut (via Far Out magazine), “I didn’t even get paid for it. He totally stiffed me. I quit the band shortly after that. He treated me so bad, but I don’t care. He gave me a ton of opportunities, so I look at the good things.”

While that’s the story of how Prince’s “Kiss” came to be, there’s still the real meaning behind it to explore.

Prince's hit song, 'Kiss,' has a 'message' for women

“Kiss” may have bounced between Prince and Mazarati before being recorded by the Minneapolis native, but the beat and message are unmistakably the Purple One’s. “Prince basically told women to forget everything Cosmo — and society in general — had been telling them about what how to attract a man and just be who we are,” per USA Today.

“You don’t have to be rich to be my girl / You don’t have to be cool to rule my world,” Prince sings in the chorus (via Genius). “Ain’t no particular sign I’m more compatible with / I just want your extra time and your kiss.” As “one of the few tracks that existed before the time of where women started calling out media and music for their sexist and rigid expectations,” Story of Song noted that Prince’s “message to all women” made him “culturally and politically ahead of his time.”

Ranked at No. 464 on Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list, “Kiss” is an undeniable highlight on Prince’s Parade album. And by the way, when “Kiss” was number one on the U.S. music charts, The Bangles’ “Manic Monday” was number two. That song? Also written by Prince. He originally wrote it in 1984 for Apollonia 6’s album, but reportedly took it back from them (sound familiar?). Two years later, he offered it to The Bangles under the name “Christopher,” after his Under the Cherry Moon character, per Story Of Song.

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