July 1987: Prince Releases "U Got the Look"

Prince
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Prince / YouTube

By the fall of 1986, Prince's Revolution was no more.

Prince broke the news to guitarist Wendy Melvoin, keyboardist Lisa Coleman and drummer Bobby Z over dinner one night. With the bandmates' formal dismissal, only Revolution keyboardist Matt Fink remained.

READ MORE: Prince's 'Sign O' The Times' Deluxe Reissue Will Come with 63 Bonus Tracks

No longer surrounded by his close friends and collaborators, the workaholic Prince only busied himself further with his endless creative pursuits. The day after his band's break up, he began recording new songs at his home studio, including the electro-funk plug "Hot Thing" and hard-funk party groove "Housequake," marking the beginning of what would become his 1987 double LP, Sign O' The Times.

As he doubled down on his creative wildness, the restless Prince also took on side projects for other artists. He reworked “Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me” for Michael Jackson after rejecting Jackson's invitation to collaborate with him on "Bad." He passed on his own material to the likes of Dolly Parton, Deborah Allen and Joni Mitchell, but they declined. 

It was while Prince cut "Housequake" that he would experience his own revelation. As Prince pitched up his vocals for the hard jam, he conceived the idea for a female alter ego "Camille," inspired by the nickname of 19th-century intersex memoirist Herculine Barbin. 

Camille would make another appearance in Prince's duet with Sheena Easton on the album's third single "U Got The Look." In his sped-up, androgynous “Camille” voice, Prince opens the fierce, funk number as the ultimate match between sexes as he whispers: “Boy versus girl in the World Series of love.”

Prince had essentially finished the track before he recruited Easton, who just happened to be passing through the studio while Prince was recording. As Easton recalled to Rolling Stone, “[Prince] said, ‘Do you want to just come in and sing some backup vocals on the choruses?’” “So I went into the studio, and because I didn’t know I was singing against him… I was all over the place – and he said he kind of liked that, so he expanded it into a duet.”

Complete with Prince's flirtatious coos and jagged New Wave synths, "U Got the Look" was released July 14, 1987. The song soon became inescapable on the radio and a mainstay on MTV as the single rose to No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 by October, kept from the No. 1 throne by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's "Lost in Emotion." 

The song scored Grammy nominations for Best R&B Vocal, Duo or Group and Best R&B Song while the accompanying music video, directed by David Hogan, won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video.

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