Prince Buries a True Treasure With ‘Beginning Endlessly’
After spending the second half of the aughts proving that he could still compete in the music industry's most rarefied air - releasing no less than four Top Three-charting albums between 2004 and 2009 - Prince seemingly once again got bored with the rat race.
His 35th and next studio effort, 20Ten, wasn't even released in America. Instead, it turned up in July 2010 as a free covermount in various newspapers and magazines in England, Ireland, France, Belgium and Germany.
No singles or videos were released from 20Ten, and during the handful of advance interviews he granted to promote it, he apparently begged reporters to not even jot down the song titles as they listened: "Please, please. It's a surprise, don't ruin it for people." The spare album credits list three background singers and a three-piece horn section, and that is the sum total of what we officially know about this record.
Which is a shame, because while it's clearly not a major milestone or turning point in his career, 20Ten somehow benefits from its creator operating fully in his comfort zone in a way that, say, 2007's Planet Earth did not. It exudes a confident, breezy, low-stakes air that elevates that material rather than making it feel repetitive.
Nowhere is this more true than on "Beginning Endlessly," which features Prince really laying it on thick, promising a prospective mate that their love could wind up being bigger than the contents of the entire universe: "Love is much too small a word for what you'd feel for me / If you ever let me explore your anatomy."
It could be laughable, if it wasn't delivered on top of an impossibly funky alien marching-band style beat, with an overdriven organ line that sounds like it is being broadcast from the coolest baseball game in the cosmos punctuating each and every one of his romantic pleas.
If you somehow mange to resist "Beginning Endlessly'"s initial charms, at about the 3:44 mark Prince uncorks one of his trademark dry "Controversy" rhythm guitar lines, alternating and then layering it on top of the aforementioned keyboard part until you're forced into a happy submission. Seriously, track this one down.
After the (semi?)-release of 20Ten, Prince would take the longest break between albums of his entire career, not returning until over four years later with the 2014 one-two punch of Plectrumelectrum and Art Official Age. The following year brought the fascinatingly mismatched HITnRun twin albums, and then... dammit.
Prince Albums Ranked From Worst to Best