There are musicians with idiosyncratic visions. There are musicians who have the power to realize whatever visions they have. At the center of the Venn diagram, there’s Prince, who at his peak single-handedly wrecked the curve of distinctiveness and giftedness. “Kiss” is a perfect dance track built out of negative space. It sounds minimal, razor-thin, barely sketched out — but its brilliant arrangement actually incorporates about a billion instruments (all of them in the treble range). Every sound is microcontrolled, beginning with the shifting tone of the opening guitar flourish and the orgasmic gasp and snare snap that lock it down. The most magnificent element, though, is Prince’s vocal — a fantastically acrobatic falsetto come-on, punctuated with firecracker exclamations and climaxing with roof-raising shrieks. There had never been another record that sounded anything like “Kiss,” and the highest compliment it can be paid is that 25 years later there still hasn’t been one.
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