Prince: ‘Controversy’ Album Labeled Blasphemous

“Controversy” is Prince’s fourth album. It was released on October 14, 1981.

“Controversy” is Prince’s fourth album. It was released on October 14, 1981.
It contains a fabulous mix of thought-provoking questions about life and politics.
It also takes the listener on dizzying spiral of wild sexuality mixed with spirituality in the same breath.
It was enough to make you feel uncomfortable while listening to the album near your parents.

“Controversy” pushed limits and forced listeners to see all of their own archaic ideals about religion, sexuality, & politics under a spotlight.

In a 1982 ‘Controversy” album review, Rolling Stone writer Stephen Holden wrote;
“Along the way, “Controversy” flirts with blasphemy by incorporating the Lord’s Prayer.”

People who wanted call the album blasphemous were brought to their knees with a funky bass line and screams that woke up all their senses.
They all came back, even if they had to listen in secret at night under the covers.

In the title track Prince uses the same questions the media asked about his race, religion, nationality, & sexuality to make a point.
The second sentence in the track asks the question “Am I black or white? am I straight or gay?”
Those questions were asked multiple times by various media outlets.
Early in his career, Prince mislead the media by saying his father had Italian ancestry. The story wasn’t true, but it was certainly good fodder to throw to ravenous writers and reporters who wanted to explain-away his outstanding talent by linking him to another nationality.

One of the more thought provoking questions asked in the track was:
“Was it good for you? Was I what you wanted me to be?”
An entire thesis can be written on that question alone.
Living up to others expectations wasn’t something Prince was really interested in.
The question acknowledges how thoughtful and aware someone has to be to realize they are playing a character in someone else’s movie.
Prince delivers the expectation even if it isn’t real.

Prince never answers any of the questions in the track, which becomes his life-long media strategy.
The real question becomes; why are the answers on race and sexuality so important; as Prince croons the line “Life is just a game. We’re all the same.”
He ends the track by reciting a bible scripture of the Lord’s Prayer because everyone needs prayer & a higher power to combat their own learned bias & prejudice.

“Controversy” is also the first Prince album to feature his signature purple color and his use of unique spellings in his song titles.


“Controversy” Lyrics

I just can’t believe all the things people say (controversy)
Am I black or white? am I straight or gay? (controversy)
Do I believe in god? do I believe in me? (controversy)
Controversy (controversy)
I can’t understand human curiosity (controversy)
Was it good for you? Was I what you wanted me to be? (controversy)
Do you get high? does your daddy cry? (controversy)
Controversy (controversy)

[Chorus]
Do I believe in god? do I believe in me?
Some people wanna die so they can be free
(I said) life is just a game, were all just the same…(do you wanna play?)
Controversy, controversy, controversy
Controversy, controversy, controversy

[Bridge]
Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever

[Refrain]
Controversy, controversy, controversy
Love him, love him baby
Controversy, controversy, controversy
Controversy, controversy, controversy

[Verse 2]
Listen
People call me rude, I wish we were all nude
I wish there was no black and white, I wish there were no rules
People call me rude, I wish we were all nude
I wish there was no black and white, I wish there were no rules
People call me rude, I wish we were all nude
I wish there was no black and white, I wish there were no rules (Yeah!)
Controversy (Oh Yeah…)
Controversy

[Chorus]
Do I believe in god? do I believe in me? let me tell ya…
Some people wanna die so they can be free
(I said) life is just a game, were all just the same…(don’t ya wanna play?)
Controversy controversy controversy controversy

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