Analysis of a Kiss Song by Prince

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Kiss is a song by the artist Prince. The song was recorded at Paisley Park Studios on April 28th 1985. It was then released on February 5th 1986 on CD and also tape as the tape format was still widely used back in the late 80s. The song uses many components such as princes iconic vocals which in this song have a higher pitch than his other songs and it really suits the funky tone in the song. There is also some guitar which really works with the drum machine which i’ve noticed is very punchy and there is not much reverb to it ether. There could be some bass but as prince was very particular with his editing this was probably edited down but it is still possibly there. I believe there is a keyboard in the song also as synth pop was very popular in the 80s and by 1986 there was sure to be some top of the range keyboard synths that were cutting edge with new technology and as prince was very cutting edge and modern.

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Drum Machine

The drum machine in the song is the Linn 9000 it works really well with the other components and the snare is really punchy and vibrant this particular drum machine makes the song vibrant and with the guitar these components work really well together. The beat of the song is looped continuously throughout the song with not much change and just a few breaks. The linn 9000 was really innovative at the time and was an innovation in drum machines and complex beats you can really create some unique sounds with this machine and the fact you can edit the way your drum sounds must have been a fun new innovation for artists back in the 1986. And as I’ve mentioned as prince was known for innovation of course he would use this kind of new technology. The drum machine is able to loop drum parts and was detuned and in the mix had a gate put on it.


There was also some guitar in the song the guitar had an effect on called flanger which makes the soundwaves start a bit later and inverse this creates the effect called flanger. It causes the harmonics to phase cancel. There is four effects on the effect pedal.

  • Rate – This makes the sweep faster or slower.
  • Depth – Makes the sweep more noticeable.
  • Resonance – How high the sweep goes.
  • Manual – Control where the centre of the sweep is.

The rhythmic synthy-sounding chords are made by a guitar which also has a gate on it. It’s midi-synched to open in time with a delayed hi-hat track.

The most stand out detail of the mix is that there is a gated bass drum which is fed through a gated reverb effect which is reverb in reverse. I would also say as an observation that it’s impossible to achieve in real life but it’s possible with digital reverb. Yamaha DX7, Oberheim OB8, Minimoog, Synclavier and a Fairlight were some of the synthesizers that Prince used from 1982 to 1986 so he possibly used this in the making of “Kiss” He used the DX7 more in 1986. As the DX7 was one of the first commercially successful synthesizers prince would’ve used this as this kind of instrument would be seen as “cutting edge.”

The piano can be heard in the background and it sounds clear with no reverb how prince likes it it fits in with the main guitar riffs and you couldn’t really tell it was a synth until you listen to it properly. There is some marimba sounds on another synth too which can be heard in the background both of these synths create a really good sound and sound really funky and groovy unlike the drums and guitar which i feel is very punchy with no decay. The first synth goes throughout the song with a few key changes when it’s appropriate in the song and even fits with the funky solo too and compliments it really well. The marimba synth kind of gets lost with the linn 9000 drums but is still a bit noticeable at a closer listen.

Prince was on the lead vocals and a band under prince’s record label called Maserati were on the backing track and did originally do most of the track work as “Kiss” was originally their song but Prince helped them produce most of it Prince then claimed it for himself again as it was “too good”. Prince’s vocals had been recorded using a Sennheiser 441 microphone. Prince’s preference for that particular mic came from a conversation with singer Stevie Nicks, who had suggested it to him as it helps boost the high end, spiking it around 3 kHz and the microphone had good directionality also. As prince would prefer to sing in the control room he would always have the microphone on standby ready for him to record.

The backing vocals are believed to be the original Mazarati recordings from the demo that Mazarati made they are even credited for being in the song for the backing vocals. Prince then added his more fluid and high pitch vocals instead over the original Mazarati lead vocals and then the single “Kiss” then became a number 1 in the US.

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