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Prince, the passing of a legend

 

It’s not the little prince of Saint-Exupéry but a great king who left us yesterday aged 57. Prince Rogers Nelson (his real name) did nothing less than revolutionise pop music and sexuality.

A daring, one-of-a-kind genius

Just listen to his extraordinary albums, Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981) and Purple Rain (1984) to be mesmerised by their sheer modernity and melodic ambition. The man who renamed himself “The Symbol” and “The Artist” at various moments in his career was unquestionably one of the great musical geniuses of our time, who delighted in experimenting and constantly pushing boundaries. Boldly fusing RnB, funk, rock, pop and new wave, this multi-instrumentalist – according to legend he could play at least twenty instruments – was responsible for almost as many hit singles as his rival Michael Jackson. Prolific, avant-garde and slasher well before the term was invented, the writer/composer/interpreter/producer/dancer/actor sold more than 80 million records around the world, filling his court with loyal subjects thronging to crown his talent. He also anticipated the power of the internet and music streaming, reinforcing his status as pioneer. 

A provocateur

Like Madonna, for whom he wrote songs, Prince knew how to shock and undermine the puritanical America of Ronald Reagan. Much of his lyrics were X-rated, starting with Darling Nikki and Purple Rain. The singer didn’t hesitate to sing about his raucous nights, masturbation, adultery, fellatio, not to mention brother-sister incest. But he also knew how to be polemic, politically speaking, addressing spiky issues like the Cold War and death penalty. On Controversy, his fourth album (and for some the most touching), in the title track he sang, “I wish we all were nude, I wish there was no black and white, I wish there were no rules.” Neither a God, nor master, nor tyrant, he was simply a good and a true Prince. 

Gender fluidity

In a similar vein to David Bowie, also lost to us of late, the chameleon dandy loved to play with gender identity. On the cover of Controversy he wore ladies underwear. He’d often wear the same tiny garment during certain concerts. Sporting outrageous make-up and androgynous, eccentric and deliciously blingful stage outfits, nicknamed the “Purple One” by the press, he was a mere 1.58m but oozed more sex appeal than a 100 men. A showman in every sense of the word with the sexiest moves in the industry, he had as many male as female groupies. 

A Pygmalion

The Kid from Minneapolis, born on June 7th 1958, wasn’t content to sit back and revolutionise pop music with just his own records - more than 30 studio albums since 1978. He also lent his talents as a producer to dance floor masterpieces for others. He wrote for major female artists including the Bangles, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle and Madonna. His most ambitious bravura? The powerfully melancholic and deeply emotional Nothing Compares 2 U, sung by Sinead O'Connor. This intensely moving hymn will no doubt be played at the funeral of this Prince, as charming as he was anti-conformist and utterly unique. 

 

By Violaine Schütz

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Rosalía, the flamenco-R’n’B tornado knighted by Pedro Almodóvar

Music Rosalía won’t be slowing global warming down. Whether it’s in her music videos where she dances with a fiery passion or on her smouldering album which marries edgy R'n'B with traditional flamenco, she scorches everything that comes her way. Pedro Almodóvar and Pharrell Williams have already succumbed, and it won’t be long before the rest of the planet does too. Rosalía won’t be slowing global warming down. Whether it’s in her music videos where she dances with a fiery passion or on her smouldering album which marries edgy R'n'B with traditional flamenco, she scorches everything that comes her way. Pedro Almodóvar and Pharrell Williams have already succumbed, and it won’t be long before the rest of the planet does too.

“Better to die for a noble cause than to live and die a slave.” Neneh Cherry
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“Better to die for a noble cause than to live and die a slave.” Neneh Cherry

Music A performer sans frontières, Neneh Cherry has just released her new album, Broken Politics, after four years away from the recording studio. A magisterial disc, it updates her trip-hop groove for today’s troubled times. With her customary elegance, Cherry shares her emotion with respect to the world’s many injustices, lending her voice to those who are without one. A performer sans frontières, Neneh Cherry has just released her new album, Broken Politics, after four years away from the recording studio. A magisterial disc, it updates her trip-hop groove for today’s troubled times. With her customary elegance, Cherry shares her emotion with respect to the world’s many injustices, lending her voice to those who are without one.

“It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.” Why is Dolly Parton the ultimate icon?
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“It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.” Why is Dolly Parton the ultimate icon?

Music The 72-year old country singer is the unexpected muse of Gucci’s spring 2019 collection. Singer, actress and writer, she continues to seduce with her wild stage outfits and her awesome one-liners. Those millennial popstars have got nothing on Dolly. The 72-year old country singer is the unexpected muse of Gucci’s spring 2019 collection. Singer, actress and writer, she continues to seduce with her wild stage outfits and her awesome one-liners. Those millennial popstars have got nothing on Dolly.

Dandyish musical sophisticate caught somewhere between Daft Punk and the classical cannon, but who really is Chilly Gonzales?
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Dandyish musical sophisticate caught somewhere between Daft Punk and the classical cannon, but who really is Chilly Gonzales?

Music Canadian composer, musician and rapper, Chilly Gonzales forms the central focus of “Shut Up and Play the Piano”, a documentary that hit theatres on October 3rd. Directed by German journalist Philipp Jedicke, the film explores his path to date, and his dual personality. Canadian composer, musician and rapper, Chilly Gonzales forms the central focus of “Shut Up and Play the Piano”, a documentary that hit theatres on October 3rd. Directed by German journalist Philipp Jedicke, the film explores his path to date, and his dual personality.

Meeting with Lenny Kravitz, unbeatable rock icon
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Meeting with Lenny Kravitz, unbeatable rock icon

Music With his inimitable look and solar charisma, he embodies the archetypal rock star, on whom time has no empire. A one-man band capable of playing all his own instruments, Lenny Kravitz is back with a new album, “Raise Vibration”, a groovy and militant manifesto, the eleventh opus in his career. Weaving gospel and Native American chants into his rhythms, in homage to his black and part-Cherokee roots, Kravitz also celebrates figures such as Johnny Cash and Michael Jackson on this vibrant and intimate disc. Numéro caught up with him af ter his stomping Paris concert this June. With his inimitable look and solar charisma, he embodies the archetypal rock star, on whom time has no empire. A one-man band capable of playing all his own instruments, Lenny Kravitz is back with a new album, “Raise Vibration”, a groovy and militant manifesto, the eleventh opus in his career. Weaving gospel and Native American chants into his rhythms, in homage to his black and part-Cherokee roots, Kravitz also celebrates figures such as Johnny Cash and Michael Jackson on this vibrant and intimate disc. Numéro caught up with him af ter his stomping Paris concert this June.

4 things you should know about Lana Del Rey, the vintage star with an irresistible pout
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4 things you should know about Lana Del Rey, the vintage star with an irresistible pout

Music With her vintage allure and her throbbing vocals, Lana Del Ray is nothing short of captivating. Just a week after the unexpected release of her “Mariners Apartment Complex”, she unveils “Venice Bitch”, a 10-minute track that wraps up summer perfectly, while announcing her sixth album, “Normal Fucking Rockwell”. Numéro looks at four must-know facts about the diva with the irresistible pout. With her vintage allure and her throbbing vocals, Lana Del Ray is nothing short of captivating. Just a week after the unexpected release of her “Mariners Apartment Complex”, she unveils “Venice Bitch”, a 10-minute track that wraps up summer perfectly, while announcing her sixth album, “Normal Fucking Rockwell”. Numéro looks at four must-know facts about the diva with the irresistible pout.