Many people found themselves glued to the internet on the afternoon of April 21, 2016, trying to find some piece of evidence that suggested it was all a hoax. However, unfortunately, it’s true – the legendary music icon Prince passed away at only 57 years of age, and it completely stunned the world. Sure, he went to the hospital a few days prior with some flu-like symptoms, but there were no major health problems that he communicated to the public. So, the world was just left to check and double-check their phones or browsers, wishing it wasn’t true.
Prince is an artist beloved by musicians and fans of every genre because, plain and simple, he was a genius. He inspired countless award-winning musicians who are impacting the music scene today, he created countless amazing songs that are still being covered and played on repeat, and he was also quite the songwriter. Now, the generous and talented Prince didn’t just keep all those songs for himself – though he certainly had his fair share of hits. Sometimes, he would either collaborate with or give his songs to another artist to record – because, after all, it was all about the music for him, not about the credit.
Here are 12 songs you didn’t know Prince wrote.
12 Sinead O’Connor, “Nothing Compares 2 U”
Though songstress Sinead O’Connor has been involved in her fair share of drama over the years due to her personal beliefs, there’s no denying that “Nothing Compares 2 U” was an absolutely massive hit. While the striking video of a bald O’Connor, complete with intimate close-ups, definitely helped the video spread when it was released, the single has endured for over 25 years because the song is incredible, plain and simple. Though O’Connor has a great voice, it’s not really about the execution – it’s about the song itself, and the song itself was penned by Prince. He originally wrote it for his side project, a funk band called The Family, but it eventually reached O’Connor’s hands, and it basically put her on the map.
11 The Bangles, “Manic Monday”
This is just another example where you may be surprised by just how many musicians Prince has affected. The Bangles aren’t necessarily the first band we’d associate with the music legend, but Prince didn’t discriminate when it came to dishing out great songs – he’d give them to popular girl groups and soul queens alike. Prince originally wrote the hit song “Manic Monday” for a band called Apollonia 6, and when they failed to put it on a record, he gave it to The Bangles under a pseudonym. Why the generosity? Allegedly, Prince enjoyed the song “Heroes Take the Fall,” and also had a bit of a crush on the guitarist Susanna Hoffs. Hey – whatever the reason, it remains one of The Bangles’ biggest hits.
10 Sheila E., “The Glamorous Life”
Prince writes everything from emotionally devastating ballads to songs guaranteed to get the party started, and this hit just proves that. Prince wrote the song “The Glamorous Life” for Apollonia 6, and it eventually ended up in the hands of Sheila E., who Prince met in 1978. She amped up the funky vibe of the song and created an incredible dance hit from Prince’s material, and it became one of the singer’s pop breakthrough hits. As the singer wrote in her memoir, The Beat Of My Own Drum, “it was very percussive and it had a catchy melody, incorporating all the black keys on the piano so that it almost sounded like a nursery rhyme.” While Prince could write tearjerkers, he also knew how to pen songs full of fun and funk.
9 Celine Dion, “With This Tear”
When you’re a celebrity, you often get some pretty crazy gifts, from expensive designer clothes to cars and other great swag. And when it comes to celebrities giving other celebrities gifts? Forget it! With that much disposable income, they can buy one another pretty much anything. However, there are some gifts that money can’t buy, as Prince demonstrated. Rather than giving Dion a lavish present, in 1992, he wrote her a song as a gift. Dion was no fool, and rather than keeping the gift to herself, she combined Prince’s composition with her incredible vocals and released it on her album.
8 Alicia Keys, “How Come You Don’t Call Me”
This one might surprise some people. While many of Prince’s biggest hits, both for himself and for other artists, came in the 1980s and 90s, that doesn’t mean he just disappeared during the 2000s – he was still writing hits and helping his fellow musicians. Back in the early 2000s when Alicia Keys was just getting started, she recorded a b-side that Prince had once penned and called it “How Come You Don’t Call Me.”, Keys’ interpretation proved that the legendary songwriters’ hits were still hits, even 20 years later, as the song went on to become a massive success for her.
7 Stevie Nicks, “Stand Back”
Prince’s involvement with this Stevie Nicks song is a bit contested. Some say it was co-written by Prince, some say Nicks herself was just incredibly inspired by Prince’s “Little Red Corvette.” So, why not take it from Nicks herself, as she has stated before that the song ‘belongs’ to Prince. Why? Well, apparently Nicks wrote “Stand Back” right after hearing “Little Red Corvette” for the first time, crafting lyrics that perfectly fit into the song. Once she recorded it, she called Prince to tell him her fun story of inspiration. Allegedly, the legend showed up twenty minutes later, tinkered around on the synthesizers for a bit, and created the masterful synth riffs. As Nicks said, “he spoiled me for every band I’ve ever had because nobody can exactly recreate – not even with two piano players – what Prince did all by his little self.” That kind of talent just doesn’t come around very often, that’s for sure.
6 Cyndi Lauper, “When You Were Mine”
Cyndi Lauper is best known for fun, lively hits like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” but one of her biggest hits was originally written by Prince. Prince wrote “When You Were Mine” for his album Dirty Mind, and it was certainly a success. Lauper loved the song, but for her version on her debut album, she slowed Prince’s masterpiece down a bit and made it a bit more pop, a little less funk. It was a huge success, but many pop fans never knew where the hit originally came from.
5 Vanity 6, “Nasty Girl”
When it comes to his songs, and his entire persona, really, Prince isn’t that shy. Sure, in real life, he was a fairly soft-spoken individual who didn’t particularly love being in the spotlight. However, on stage, as Prince, he was full of sexually charged energy, as were his songs. So, it may not surprise you to hear that he was the writer behind Vanity 6’s song “Nasty Girl.” It was their first (and only) hit, and not only did Prince write it, he also produced the song. It’s a far cry from some of his ballads, but it was the perfect sleaze-filled jam for bumping and grinding on the dance floor.
4 Chaka Khan, “I Feel For You”
Someone with pipes like Chaka Khan’s can pretty much sing the hell out of any song, but when Chaka Khan’s vocals combine with Prince’s songwriting skills? Watch out! Prince allegedly wrote the hit as a gift for one of his crushes, and he stuck it on an album in 1979. However, the romantic gift never quite reached the stratospheric fame that some of his other hits did. That is, until Chaka Khan got her hands on it. Khan and producer Arif Mardin made it an electro-funk, R&B and hip hop filled mega-hit, featuring a harmonica riff from Stevie Wonder, a video with L.A. break dancers absolutely rocking it, and more. It was a song absolutely packed with personality, and it became one of the biggest hits of Khan’s career – it earned her a Grammy for Best R&B song, after all.
3 Sheena Easton, “Sugar Walls”
Prince didn’t shy away from songs that were sexual in nature, as “Sugar Walls” proves. As Sheena Easton has said, when she first met with Prince was back in the 1980s, it was an intimate experience. “I walked into the studio and there was no 12 bodyguards, just him,” said Easton in Q, “he was very quiet and shy.” However, you’d never know that from the song – it’s filled with erotic double entendres and sexually explicit lines like “come spend the night inside by sugar walls.” It’s known as one of the most explicit songs of all time, but come on – it’s quite the jam.
2 Jay Z and Beyoncé, “03 Bonnie And Clyde”
Okay, we’re including this one for the sheer fact that it just proves how involved Prince was in the music industry – even today’s music power couple Jay Z and Beyoncé have had a little Prince in their careers. Now, this one is a little different than some of Prince’s other hidden hits, as he didn’t pen it alone. The song credits state it was composed by Jay Z, Kanye West, Tupac Shakur, Darryl Harper, Ricky Rouse, Tyrone Wrice, and… Prince! From lyrics to song samples, this one is a bit of a mish mash when it comes to authorship, but Prince had his hand in it.
1 Madonna, “Love Song”
We can’t imagine the kind of meeting that involves two absolute legends like Madonna and Prince, but sure enough, back in the 1980s, it happened. Madonna apparently travelled up to Minnesota to Prince’s studio, and the two co-wrote the hit “Love Song” for her well known album Like A Prayer. Not only did Prince help her with the composition of the track, he also sang and played guitar. Madonna was still fairly early in her career at that point, and quite frankly, we can’t imagine how she must have felt going to Prince’s house. It must have been like taking a master class in songwriting!