Though Prince had scored an Oscar for his Purple Rain album, and been garlanded with praise for Parade, the soundtrack to his second movie, his box-office reputation was hit-and-miss. Under The Cherry Moon, the film that had inspired the superlative Parade, was less successful than he’d hoped for, and while he’d been toying with the idea of a Purple Rain sequel – among other potential cinematic ventures – as far back as 1987, he’d yet to get it off the ground. When a chance offer to record some songs for the soundtrack to Batman, Tim Burton’s high-budget 1989 reboot of the caped-crusader franchise, came along, he saw an opportunity to not only be part of one of his childhood favourites, but to regain a foothold in Hollywood.
Listen to the ‘Batman’ soundtrack album here.
“The biggest tie-in since shoelaces”
Prince had been on Burton’s mind throughout filming. Two decades on from the last big-screen Batman adaptation – 1966’s high-camp spectacular Batman: The Movie, in which Adam West and Burt Ward reprised their TV roles as Batman and Robin, respectively – he needed a soundtrack that would help bring the DC Comics hero bang up to date. Who better to deliver than the most cutting-edge musician of the 80s?
Burton had used earlier Prince tracks, 1999 and Baby I’m A Star, to create the right feel for key scenes in a workprint, and had originally planned to ask Prince to re-record the songs for the final cut. After flying out to Pinewood Studios, on the outskirts of London, for a meeting on the set of Gotham City, Prince was enthused enough to not only record two brand-new songs for the project, but to consider cancelling the Japanese leg of his Lovesexy tour in order to get started immediately. Convinced to see the overseas obligation through, he was back in Paisley Park that February, where he would – as ever – surpass original expectations.