Prince’s ‘Fallinlove2nite’ Becomes Part of Two Media-Savvy Moments: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
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To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
For Prince, there’s a time and a place to release every song. That’s how the world’s funkiest hoarder ended up with a storied vault full of unissued music. It’s also why “Fallinlove2nite” arrived in two radically different formats some 18 months apart.
Over the course of his career, Prince often presented himself as someone separate from pop culture. He lived well away from the industry power centers on the coasts, and tended to take pot shots at hit music and online pursuits. He didn’t even carry a cell phone. Yet, Prince never completely walked away, not really. When the time was right – on his terms, of course – Prince had a canny way of re-joining the zeitgeist, a propensity that plays out within the history of this song.
“The trick,” Prince told the New York Post in a 2015 interview at Paisley Park, “is to make the music mean something in the world outside of here. I’ve vaulted so much stuff, going way back to the ’80s, because I didn’t want people to hear it: It wasn’t ready. One day, I’ll go back and finish it, and it’ll feel like no time has passed. To me, time folds back on itself.”
“Fallinlove2nite” was, in both instances, a way for Prince to reconnect with that wider world.
Originally released as a duet with Zoey Deschanel in early 2014, the song worked as a synergistic tie-in that gave Prince an association with the actress and occasional singer’s buzzy TV show – and with one of broadcasting’s biggest annual events. Later, “Fallinlove2nite” became a reworked deep cut on HITnRUN Phase One, issued in September of 2015.
Even after all the attention the song had already gotten, Prince wasn’t finished with it. This time, “Fallinlove2nite” – which PrinceVault surmises was likely re-released in its initial studio form, before overdubs by Deschanel – played a role in what Prince hoped would be a technological revolution.
The single premiered, in snippet form, as part of Prince’s guest appearance during a post-Super Bowl episode of New Girl on Feb. 2, 2014. He darts in and out as he had with Sheena Easton in “U Got the Look,” singing in his darkly mysterious, upper-register “Camille” persona. Prince struck a far more every-day posture on the TV show itself, eating pancakes and playing Ping Pong. More than 25 million viewers tuned in as Deschanel’s character Jess took the stage during a party at Prince’s place.
“Fallinlove2nite” arrived as a digital single, complete with Deschanel’s vocals, the following month after it premiered on a Los Angeles radio station and then streamed for a full week via iHeart websites. And that, it seemed at first, was that. Prince subsequently reached a surprising new agreement to return to Warner Bros., then released two more albums before a meeting with Jay-Z ended up bringing Prince back around to “Fallinlove2nite.”
Jay-Z had purchased the Tidal streaming service for some $56 million, and hoped that Prince would be interested in helping jump start something that could – once again – allow him to bypass corporate influence and connect directly with listeners. Intrigued, Prince walked away from his old label again.
He quickly began constructing HITnRUN Phase One, the third album over less than a year’s time. “Jay-Z and I did a deal in 90 days,” Prince told Medium in 2015. “He gets it. And there’s no matrix.”
The new agreement with Warner Bros. had also returned Prince’s music catalog to his control, but his next moves illustrated just how transactional that detente always was. The Deschanel version of “Fallinlove2nite” was released on Epic, and now Prince was issuing his next album as a Tidal exclusive. In a frank 2015 talk with Entertainment Weekly, Prince described the deal with Warners as “just a business relationship, clean and transparent. And I got my stuff back.”
Elsewhere, HITnRUN Phase One tended to be more experimental than Prince’s most recent, very focused 2014 studio efforts – the R&B-laced Art Official Age and his power-trio album Plectrumelectrum. Returning after work on the well-received Art Official Age, producer Joshua Welton took a more central role, co-composing eight of the 11 new songs. They met through Joshua’s wife Hannah, who played drums on Plectrumelectrum – then bonded through their common faith.
“Fallinlove2nite” was Prince’s alone, however, a track that he tinkered with like a veteran craftsman until he was completely satisfied. Prince clearly enjoyed having full control over the process again, right down to the comic book-style cover image for HitNRun Phase One. “Jay allowed us to pick the artwork, design the page, choose the related content,” Prince told Entertainment Weekly. “Why shouldn’t you be allowed to do that when it’s your music, your creation?”
Welton also helmed HitNRun Phase Two, which would become Prince’s 35th and final studio effort. He never released another song via Warner Bros.
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