Prince Gets Melancholy in His Latest Song, "The Breakdown"

Slate's Culture Blog
April 19 2014 4:06 PM

Prince Gets Melancholy in His Latest Song, "The Breakdown"

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Prince employs an unusually subdued sound in his latest cut.

JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images

Yesterday, news came that Prince—after an 18-year standoff that included him changing his name to a symbol, scrawling the world "slave" on his face in protest, and suing his fans and YouTube—had finally made peace with Warner Bros. Records and regained full control of his back catalog. The legendary singer also announced a new and forthcoming album, and today he released standout cut "The Breakdown" for streaming.

The slow-burn ballad is no picker-upper—it opens with the melancholy confession that "this could be the saddest story ever been told"—but that famed Minneapolis sound comes through in a funky, dialed-up bass line and some electro-synth inflection in the chorus. What truly makes the song is Prince's vocal: it starts with a cooing falsetto, but proceeds to build in intensity and explode into a ragged and feral delivery by the tune's closing lyrics. Enjoy.

Sharan Shetty is a writer for Brow Beat. You can follow him on Twitter