By the mid-1980s, Prince was dominating the charts even as a writer/producer with songs he'd composed and recorded for others. In addition to releasing nine of his most commercially successful full-length albums, he also wrote and recorded endless reels of material for proteges The Time, Vanity 6, Sheila E., Apollonia 6, Jill Jones, the Family, and Mazarati. Occasionally, Prince's original demo recordings would be used as master takes on their albums, with only minor alterations to the instrumentation and a replacement of the vocal tracks. Other times, artists would rely on his demos to guide them through their own recording process, with Prince's initial take informing their final version of his song. The aggregate effect was a complete saturation and transformation of the pop music landscape, with Prince both leading and subverting mainstream culture.
Several of the iconic songs found on Originals were considerable hits for the artists who recorded them. Sheila E.'s "The Glamorous Life" reached #1 on the dance charts in 1984, while the enormous success of "Manic Monday" propelled the single and its accompanying album, The Bangles' Different Light, to the #2 spot on the pop charts. The Time's Ice Cream Castle, featuring the top 20 "Jungle Love", spent a whopping 57 weeks on the Billboard 200. And in 1991, Martika enjoyed international success with "Love... Thy Will Be Done", a top 10 hit in France, Australia, the UK and the USA.
Originals pulls back the curtain to reveal the origins of these familiar songs, in addition to deeper album cuts such as Vanity 6's "Make-Up," Jill Jones's "Baby, You're a Trip," and Kenny Rogers' "You're My Love." The album also features Prince's majestic original 1984 version of "Nothing Compares 2 U," released in 2018 as a standalone single.