The Long History of Prince’s ‘If I Love U 2 Nite’
She made that very clear in her book, The Most Beautiful. “I loved him all the more for being so supportive, but my calling was to dance,” she wrote. “[But] it was actually a lot of fun.”
But Prince got his way and in 1995 Garcia released an album on NPG Records, Child of the Sun, a mix of dance, rock, R&B, industrial and Latin pop — four years before the Latin pop explosion.
One of the album’s singles, “If Eye Love U 2night,” was an infectious, easy-listening pop/R&B tune. It would have fit right in with the other top songs of the year, including Madonna’s “Take a Bow,” Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be” and All-4-One’s “I Can Love You Like That.” And the video, showing off Garcia’s beauty and dance skills, could have been a mainstay on MTV and VH1.
Prince even had the foresight to have Garcia record a Spanish version of the song.
Unfortunately, without distribution and promotion from a major label like Warner Bros., it never made it to the mainstream.
Listen to Mayte's "It Eye Love U 2Night"
But “If Eye Love U 2night” is a testament to Prince’s remarkable ability to rework his own material for different projects. He wrote the song, originally stylized as “If I Love You Tonight,” in 1979 for a shelved album called The Rebels. His bandmate Gayle Chapman took the lead vocal on the slower, more soulful rendition, which could have been a hit for the group, or in the hands of a vocalist like Teena Marie or Bonnie Raitt.
Chapman’s recording of the song was a comical experience; she was mooned by some of the band members.
“I’m concentrating, in my zone,” she said. “I open my eyes and I look up and upstairs at the studio [is] this window from a viewing room so people can watch and listen … and all I see is four pressed hams against the window.”
In 2016, Chapman did a live rendition playing acoustic guitar, which added yet another way to interpret the song.
Watch Gayle Chapman Perform "If I Love You Tonight"
Back in 1987, Prince re-recorded the track from a male perspective, and gave it a more modern, upbeat feel. He also added new vocal ad libs and harmonies.
He submitted it to British soul singer Mica Paris, who recorded it as “If I Love U 2 Nite” for her 1990 album, Contribution and put it out as a single on Feb. 19, 1991. Paris utilized a lot from Prince’s reference track, but added a reggae-flavored twist, with vocals reminiscent of Chaka Khan.
“He loves voices, he’s obsessed with great voices, with talent,” Paris told The Guardian in 2016. “Just think of all those female musicians that he brought through who probably wouldn’t have gotten a look-in if it wasn’t for him.”
Listen to Mica Paris' "If I Love U 2 Nite"
According to PrinceVault, Prince never performed “If I Love U 2 Nite” live, and he didn’t submit it to any other singers after 1995. But there is a way for the song to live on and reach new audiences. If the Prince Estate decides to release another volume of Originals, his 1987 version should be a contender. And perhaps younger singers will be inspired to come up with their own interpretations.