September 1981: Prince Releases CONTROVERSY Single
By the year 1981, Prince had established himself as an emerging force in the music world. His 1980 album, Dirty Mind, obliterated genre lines to blend rock, funk, R&B, and pop into a streamlined and minimal masterpiece. When it came time to follow it up with his fourth studio effort, the artist was ready to turn everything up to an even more intense--and controversial--pitch.
"Controversy" was the first single from Prince's 1981 campaign, released as a single on September 2, 1981. The song brought that same genre-defying energy to its lyrics, with the artist openly mocking the swirling rumors about his identity to hammer the point home: "I just can't believe all the things people say/Controversy/Am I black or white?/Am I straight or gay?/Controversy/Do I believe in God?/Do I believe in me?"
The track was a smash on the dance and urban charts, peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Clubs Songs chart, and #3 on the Hot Black Singles chart. Over on the mainstream Hot 100, it peaked at #70 for the week of November 21, 1981. The #1 song in America that week: Olivia Newton-John's "Physical."