The title track to Prince‘s 1981 album, “Controversy” was the artist hitting back at various speculations surrounding him at the time. The track talks about race, sexuality, religion and even includes an entire prayer in the middle of it which, ironically and amusingly, caused some controversy. And although the lyrics and the themes are worthy of note here, most importantly it’s just a really good song with a cool, funky beat and one of the catchiest hooks on the album.
There was a time when this Prince soundtrack just wasn’t for me.
It was just so distracting, so 80’s and so not in line with anything else in that movie which went for more of a 1940’s film noir-style vibe. I actually used to count it as one of the film’s (very few) shortcomings. Listening back to it now though, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.
It’s a guilty pleasure, for sure, but there’s just something irresistible about a “funky” Batman soundtrack. Prince opens the album with “The Future”, a song you hear roughly in the background during the opening scene of the film where that family is wandering the streets of Gotham City. It doesn’t build up to anything particularly memorable but it’s fine. Things get good with the second track though, “Electric Chair” sounding like a cross between Stevie Wonder and… AC/DC, as Prince gets to rock-scream a bit near the end of it.
Gotta love the rock-screamin’…
Not sure about the following, track to be honest, “The Arms Of Orion” being a pretty cheesy ballad, a duet to boot, you’d hear in an Andrew Lloyd Webber show or a Disney animated flick. It’s not really appropriate for the movie and could have been glorious had it been a Meatloaf effort but… nope. For that type of song it’s not too bad in that the melody is catchy at least but yeah, if you’re not asleep by the end of it, you’ve just had coffee.
Thankfully, it is followed by “Partyman”, a track you’d have to be pretty dead not to enjoy on a beat-level at least. Yes it’s the song from the museum scene where Jack Nicholson’s Joker “makes some art”. Good stuff. This is actually when I started realising that Prince’s soundtrack is basically The Joker’s theme and a lot of the songs are conceived with the character’s *ahem* anarchic philosophy in mind.
This makes tracks like “Vicki Waiting”, “Trust” and, of course, “Batdance” loads of fun with the lyrics either blatantly taking the piss of Batman and Vicki Vale or ironically celebrating The Joker’s funky FUNKAY evilness. Didn’t think I’d hear a Prince song claim to want to “bust that body” as we hear Kim Basinger moaning and breathing (lol) but I guess it was to be expected. In the brilliant “Batdance”, especially, you get tons of genius intercutting of sound clips from the film and it’s funny as hell. The song itself is basically three short songs in one but all three kick ass and, as messy as they feel all together, it hardly matters: you’ll be Batdancing in no time.
The other two songs, “Lemon Crush” and “Scandalous”, one of them a forgettable but decent tune and the other another a chilled-out ballad, are not bad but certainly fail to match the others in terms of memorability.
Overall, this Batman OST is really a lot of fun especially when you look at it for what it is: more Joker-esque shenanigans. Prince does a good job and you almost wish he’d given us more songs rather than only nine, some of which way too long for their own good. Plus having Danny Elfman’s brilliant score merged into the soundtrack would have been cool.
Not for everybody but give it a go, it’s Batman at his funkiest.
3 Bat-dudes out of 5.