Michael Jackson came in for some stick at the 1996 Brit Awards for dressing up like Jesus and surrounding himself with children, but he never pulled the groundbreakingly presumptuous move of speaking in the first person as Mr Christ himself. Somehow, though, Prince never sparked the embarrassment that MJ did, nor the outrage that Madonna cleverly cooked up for 1989’s “Like a Prayer”.
This might be on account of “I Would Die 4 U” working so well as a straight-up love song. (In the countless times I’ve danced to it, striking bravado poses during the wonderfully staccato chorus, I never thought much about theology.) Prince manages the trick of making a conversation between deity and humanity sound an awful lot like a declaration of love from one lonely individual to another. He’ll never beat you, he’ll never lie (and presumably will never give you up, or let you down). He, and this song, will be there for you whenever you need them, without judgement or condition.
He’s quick to protest that he’s not your lover, he’s not your friend. He is something that you’ll never comprehend.
Oh come off it, Prince – we know what that third category is. It’s “pop star”.