‘Scandalous’ Proves It’s Better to Be Prince Than Batman: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
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.
In 1989, if you had had the choice between being Batman or Prince, which would you have chosen? Each choice had its own benefits: If you were Batman you got to play with a bunch of cool gear, drive an amazing hot rod around town, beat the living daylights out of bad guys and, as your secret identity Bruce Wayne, you got to squire a number of young ladies around Gotham and, you know, back at your mansion.
If you were Prince, though, you got to be Prince.
There's no real decision to be made. With the exception of assaulting bad guys, everything Batman got to do, Prince got to do, too. Plus, he was Prince. To heck with the Bat-gear. Sign us up for the heels and funky white guitar.
On the 1989 Batman soundtrack album, Prince explored each of the main protagonists in in the story—Batman, the Joker, Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale (a reporter and romantic interest of just about everyone else in the movie). Each of the songs features Prince in character as one of those people.
There's one exception—"Scandalous," a come-hither slow jam which ostensibly (according to the liner notes) is rendered in the voice of Batman. This is ludicrous; Batman would have never said the things Prince sings in the song. For one, Batman wears a cowl, Bat-armor and a cape, which would make it physically impossible for him to invite his beloved to do some of the things he invites her to do. Secondly, by inviting his beloved to do such things in his low, gravelly voice he would sound far too creepy, leading Vicki to do a bit less disrobing and a bit more running away in terror.
No, with "Scandalous," Prince wrote himself into the Batman story, fashioning himself as a super-character whose chief powers were his own irresistibility and his ability to get freaky on a moment's notice. Neither of these would have gotten him into the Justice League, but chances are, he had a lot more fun than his would-be super-colleagues.
The song's main instrumental bed consists of warm keyboard chords over electronic drums. And it is very warm; it's like the keyboard setting is channeling the body heat coming off those in attendance at the recording session (which initially, consisted of just Prince himself, but this was 1989—he radiated sexual energy all by his lonesome back then). Prince does his full lover-man falsetto, and the first word he sings, of course, is "Come." It hangs there for a long moment before being followed by the second word he sings: "… closer."
Perhaps feeling Vicki hasn't gotten close enough to him, Prince gives a couple more instructions: "Don't be afraid, baby, touch it and explode / Understand, understand that I love U / Oh, but more than that, I want U." The "I want U" is whispered, for effect, and so she knows he's serious.
Do you see why Batman could not possibly have taken part in this scene? If Michael Keaton said, "Touch it and explode" the same way he said, "I'm Batman," Vicki Vale would have been smart to run for a flak jacket, instead of … touching … it.
The loviny-doviny going down has got to be fogging up every window in the vicinity as Prince makes it known he is totally down for whatever: "Anything's acceptable," he sings, "just ask me and I'll try it." She apparently obliges, in impressive fashion: "Oh girl, the things U make me do / Genius is the only way to describe U." One can imagine the Bat-ceiling trusses and Bat-Twister board game being employed.
And toward the end of the song, one hears in the mix the occasional female whimpers, presumably from Vicki Vale herself. These passionate moments take us to an even grander, even more "Scandalous" situation—the "Scandalous Sex Suite."
Ah, the "Scandalous Sex Suite." Take the six minutes of "Scandalous" and expand them into a three-part, 20-minute "mega-mix," including Eric Leeds' saxophone, an awesome guitar solo, additional choirs of Prince voices and a dialogue between Prince and Kim Basinger (who played Vicki Vale, and who was his then-current paramour).
Only it was more than a dialogue, if speculation from the time was accurate. Yes, there were the stilted lines they spoke (Basinger: "It's so dark in here." Prince: "I can see U." Basinger: "What do I look like?" Prince: "Overdressed."), but there were also the vocal expressions of a consensual encounter that were captured on tape and added to the mix. And those expressions were not simply the quiet mewling from the album cut—these were full-on grunts (and giggles) of love that rumor had it resulted from a genuine consensual encounter in the vocal booth.
If that's true, then the young men who rushed out to purchase the Scandalous Sex Suite EP in 1989 had quite the artifact in their record collections. They also had one more reason that it was better to be Prince than Batman.