June 1989: Prince Gets Freaky with BATDANCE

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The year 1989 was all about Batman. The movie, starring Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger, was the year's biggest cinema blockbuster, raking in more than $251 million at the box office. Helping buoy the film's popularity was a dynamic soundtrack by Prince. And while the song wasn't used in the movie, it was Prince's "Batdance" that was its theme song.

Cutting and pasting a flurry of sounds and movie dialogue into a manic dance track that jammed together two decidedly different ideas as one. The track's chaotic nature was reflected in the music video, which featured Prince as the half-Batman/half-Joker character, "Gemini."

As Batman mania took over the country, "Batdance" raced up the charts. Released on June 8, 1989, it peaked at #1 on the Hot 100 for the week of August 5, 1989. It only held the spot for a single week, replaced on the following chart by Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting." It was Prince's fourth #1 song in America.

The "Batdance" single came with the song "200 Balloons" on the B-side. Written for a specific scene in the movie, director Tim Burton declined to use the tune in the film.

Years later, it was revealed that a remix of "Batdance" featuring rapper Big Daddy Kane had been officially commissioned, but never released. 

"The whole thing, recording, mix and editing, took a day and a half," recalled DJ John Luongo, who made the remix, to the L.A. Times. "But I had a deadline! I remember FedEx was there waiting as I did my best to finish up, so we could make the next plane to rush it over to L.A. and Minnesota to let Warner Bros. and Prince hear what I had done. ... And then Warner Bros. said they didn't like it; it was too different. And that was it. They didn't release it."

Still, Luongo got the only approval he needed: a nod from Prince himself.

"I have no regrets about that record. I wanted Prince to like it. I really didn't care if Warner Bros liked it. I wanted the guy who I admired to admire something that I had done for him. And so when one of my friends, this engineer named Sal Greco who worked with Prince at Paisley Park, told me that Prince had heard the mix, and that he loved it, that was enough for me. That was the greatest honor in the world. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Wouldn't change a thing." Listen to the Big Daddy Kane version of "Batdance" here.