18 Awesome Prince Rip-Offs – Rolling Stone
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18 Awesome Prince Rip-Offs

A handful of artists that made their songs a little more purple

Best Prince Rip-offs

D'angelo and Andre 3000 have been inspired by Prince.

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Over the course of more than 40 years, few artists covered as much ground with as much style and grace as Prince. The extent of his ingenuity and shape-shifting between 1980 and 1987 alone is such that most of the singers who flaunt Prince's influence only reflect one aspect of his artistry – maybe you can approximate his ballads, his limb-wrenching funk, his squalling rock or his electronic compositions, but nobody can do it all. The list below serves as a partial map of Prince's sway over the last three decades of pop, a chronological list of songs that show the depth and breadth of his reach.

Best Prince Rip-offs

D’Angelo, “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” (2000)

"Untitled" is one of D'Angelo's many homages to Prince: He also sampled Prince's drums on "Africa," covered the Prince B-side "She's Always in My Hair" and channeled him again on the recent "Another Life"

Best Prince Rip-offs

Beyoncé, “1 + 1” (2001)

"1 + 1," co-written by The-Dream, is one of several Prince-influenced tracks in Beyoncé's catalog; basically her version of "Purple Rain." In addition, Beyoncé interpolated Prince's "If I Was Your Girlfriend" in her verse on Jay Z's "'03 Bonnie And Clyde."

Best Prince Rip-offs

Robyn, “Should Have Known” (2002)

"Should Have Known" channels Prince's minimalist side: It's basically just a drum machine and one plinking keyboard riff. Robyn lavishes attention on the vocals, multi-tracking them and slipping easily into steely melisma, conveying the feel of "Forever in My Life" from Sign O' The Times.

Best Prince Rip-offs

Outkast, “Prototype” (2003)

When Outkast released Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2003, Andre 3000 all but abandoned the rapping that made the group famous, focusing instead on a guitar-heavy style and a light croon. With funky bass, languid riffs and staggered chorus, "Prototype" honors Prince from start to finish.

Best Prince Rip-offs

Justin Timberlake, “Sexy Ladies” (2006)

Following Prince's death, Justin Timberlake confessed that the late star was "somewhere within every song I've ever written," and much of 2006's FutureSex/LoveSounds plays like a direct homage to the Purple One. Among the album's most clearly Prince-indebted tracks are the bass-popping "Sexy Ladies," the weepy "(Another Song) All Over Again" and the drum-machine-heavy "Until the End of Time."

Best Prince Rip-offs

The-Dream, “Yamaha” (2010)

The-Dream's early solo catalog is one extended love affair with Prince. "Fast Car," which appeared on his first album, borrows the distinct drum sound from Prince's "Erotic City." A similar whooshing percussion appears on "Yamaha" (from 2010's Love King); the keyboard riff that buoys "F.I.L.A." channels "The Beautiful Ones"; the lascivious internet loosie "Fuck My Brains Out" reaches towards "She's Always in My Hair"; and The-Dream has two songs dedicated to "Nikki," spelled the same way as the woman Prince once met in a hotel lobby.

Best Prince Rip-offs

The Weeknd, “Glass Table Girls” (2011)

Abel Tesfaye is frequently compared to Michael Jackson, but the combination of falsetto vocals and frigid, claustrophobic soundscapes that earned his early mixtapes attention is all Prince. A song like "Glass Table Girls," basically just propulsive drum programming and a vocal, reaches back to tracks like "Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)," the brooding masterpiece from 1999.

Best Prince Rip-offs

Miguel, “Arch N Point” (2012)

Miguel's first album was a slick collection of contemporary R&B, but he didn't earn critical attention until he concocted a Prince-like combo of guitar distortion and sex drive on his next release, Kaleidoscope Dream. "Arch N Point" epitomized his new phase, all coarse riffs and libido.

Best Prince Rip-offs

Moodymann feat. Andres, “Lyk U Used 2” (2014)

Two seasoned purveyors of Detroit dance music concocted one of this decade's most inspired Prince tributes, a track with a savvy mix of human and mechanical approaches. The vocals are a smear of lust and reproach, the kind of thing that drove many of Prince's best tracks: "You don't even call my name like you used to/You don't even scream for more."

Prince; Rip-off

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (2014)

Ronson had to add the Gap Band as writers on "Uptown Funk" due to similarities between his Number One pop hit and the Gap Band's "Oops Upside Your Head." But the song is also filled with musical ingredients that Prince popularized in the mainstream: splintered guitars nudging around the same note with manic intensity, dive-bombing synths, an electronic handclap beat. Only the horns are off-brand – Prince preferred lighter, more sinuous brass sections. And, of course, Prince recorded his own ode to "Uptown" on 1980's Dirty Mind.

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