If there was one aspect of Prince’s career that was undeniably at its peak in later years, it is the cover art associated with singles. You can conveniently review the artwork for over 100 single releases on one page at Prince Vault and judge for yourself.
In Prince’s early years, single cover art generally featured a provocatively dressed (or undressed) Prince propositioning you with his eyes. Unless you lived in Japan or England, where he appeared to be too preoccupied with riding Pegasus while nude to give you much sexual attention.
This Pegasus shot from the overseas release of “Sexy Dancer” originally appeared on the back of 1979’s Prince album. And while it is difficult to compare musicians from different generations, please note that neither Paul McCartney, Elvis Presley nor Beethoven ever appeared naked while riding Pegasus on the cover of a Japanese single.
In my opinion, over the next 30 years (and 80+ singles), nothing compared 2 Pegasus. I liked the artwork for the “Sign O’ The Times” single, I suppose, as much for the font (a blend between Arial Crayon and Times New Scribbled In Your Own Blood) as for the intriguing photo of Cat.
It would be 2013 before he would take his single cover art game to the next level with the release of “Breakfast Can Wait.”
I’m sure you all know the story behind that photo, but regardless, I am always looking for an excuse to link to the greatest six minutes in the history of sketch comedy.
In 2014, when the “This Could Be Us…” Internet meme eventually swallowed up Prince and Apollonia…
…Prince was inspired to write a song called “This Could B Us,” which was released as a single in 2015.
These last two singles reflect the softening of Prince’s persona that occurred over the last decade of his life. He was able to take himself less seriously and engage with the world outside of Paisley Park more than ever before. The artist who always refused to look in any direction but forward was able to fondly look back at his career.
Maturity and self-awareness are great and all, but they don’t get you naked on Pegasus, so I don’t want to shortchange his earlier work. What’s your favorite cover art for a Prince single?