10. “If I Was UR Girlfriend” off Sign o’ the Times (1987)
The narrative of “If I Was Your Girlfriend” – the second single off 1987’s landmark Sign o’ the Times – is a uniquely brilliant construction.
Written from the perspective of man speaking to a woman, it wonders how much more intimate their relationship might be were he instead her platonic female friend. Built off a sparse bass and drum pattern periodically punctuated with woeful keyboard, Prince uses this complex conceit to ponder questions like, “Would you run to me if somebody hurt you, even if that somebody was me?” — a gem of juxtaposition in a treasure trove of jewels.
While not inherently an exercise in gender fluidity, Prince’s ability to thoughtfully place himself as a female friend to another woman is an act few others would dare to try, let alone successfully pull off. Suggestions like “Is it really necessary for me to go out of the room/ Just because you wanna undress?” are fully loaded couplets that might wilt in the hands of other performers.
The true beauty of “If I Was Your Girlfriend” is that underneath all the layers it’s still just a simple love song, the wishes of man who wants nothing more than to be closer to his partner and perhaps partake in a few carnal pleasures while he’s at it. –Zack Ruskin