Michael Jackson Vs. Prince


Having gone over the pros and cons of usage of the N-Word last week, I am now prepared to delve into an even more controversial topic. One which has divided millions for over 30 years now. Before I even start writing this I know that no matter what I say, someone who reads this is going to be pissed off at something. That is the nature of this argument: Michael Jackson vs. Prince.


I’ve written before about my childhood idolization of Michael Jackson, and obviously I have this category on my blog dedicated to him, where I’ve reviewed most of his adult albums (I may get to the two posthumous albums someday). But I am also a lifelong fan of Prince. Unlike Michael, I have seen Prince perform live. It was 2004, the Musicology tour, live at the Staples Center, 14th row, with Sheila E. as the opening act. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. He was incredible.

The thing is, these two men really shouldn’t even be compared to each other, and I can understand why this particular issue has always rankled Prince. It’s obvious why they constantly are, due to various superficial similarities. They were two Black males, the same age, who became mainstream crossover pop artists during the 80’s. But, really, they are very different. Comparing Michael Jackson and Prince is like comparing Sammy Davis Jr. and Jimi Hendrix. They’re both geniuses at what they do, they’re both icons, neither one is inherently “better” than the other. It all just depends on what type of music and entertainment that YOU prefer.


I’d say that Michael was an entertainer first, while Prince is a musician first. Michael would make music as a means of entertaining people (which he did very well), while Prince seems more interested in making music for the sake of itself, and therefor was more willing to experiment. They both have a common “ancestor”, if you will, in James Brown.


It all began with the Godfather of Soul, and they’ve both acknowledged that. You can see him in both of them. But it’s like they each took different things from him. Michael took James’ showmanship, Prince took his musicianship, while both also took his perfectionism and work ethic. But it’s in their other influences where the differences become apparent. With Michael you can also see how took from guys like Sammy Davis Jr., Gene Kelly, Jackie Wilson, Fred Astaire, and Sam Cooke. While Prince’s other influences are evident in the styles of Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, Sly Stone, George Clinton, and Miles Davis. Again, neither is “better,” they’re just “different.”


But now let me purposely get controversial. Recently Chris Rock wrote an article about Prince’s classic album, Purple Rain:

Chris Rock Looks Back at ‘Purple Rain’: ’30 Years Later, There’s Nothing Remotely Close’

Good article..except that I have to object to one part:

There’s not a bad record on Purple Rain. Thriller is allegedly the best album of all time, and that has at least two bad songs on it. There’s no “Baby Be Mine” on Purple Rain.


Dude, first of all “Baby Be Mine” is effing awesome! That’s actually my favorite song on THRILLER!

Chris Rock is trippin’. I don’t know what the 2nd “bad” song he’s talking about is, but I like every track on Thriller. By contrast, Purple Rain? Okay, that’s a great album, but what about Darling Nikki? I’m sorry, but no one is going to tell me that’s really a good song. No one is putting that song on during a party or a club and going “That’s my jam!” The song is memorable because of the line about “masturbating with a magazine,” but that’s all. There’s also Take Me U, which is just okay, but could have been better. The biggest problem with that one is Apollonia’s vocals. She just wasn’t a very good singer, and that brought the song down. I’ve often said, frankly, I’m not even sure I’d consider Purple Rain to be Prince’s best album. I’d say that 1987’s Sign O The Times is a more creative album, as well as the often overlooked album The Gold Experience from 1995. That’s probably my favorite Prince album.

Thriller is the perfect blend of Pop, Rock, and R&B music. The songwriting, the production, and Michael’s vocals are all at their peak. And altogether it is much better album than Purple Rain.

Just my opinion.


But I still love them both.


  1. I think both P Rain and Thriller are perfect albums. Not a bad cut in either. Yes. Chris Rock was smoking crack when he called Baby Be Mine weak.

    My only disagreement is to say that MJ was an entertainer first and foremost. He was a soul singer. For all the amazing things he could do on stage, his voice was always his best weapon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think our descriptions are mutually seclusive. His soulful voice is part of his repertoire as an entertainer, along with his dancing, and stage performance, and experimentation with music videos. But it all began with his voice, no doubt.


      • I’m a huge fan of both. They are cut from the same cloth but took it to different places.

        Personally, I think the comparison is unfair to both, but I think that is part of what you were getting at.

        They both changes what music could be in ways artists are still chasing and most of them can’t keep up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that’s my basic premise, that the comparison isn’t really fair, at least not in terms of trying to argue who is “better.” I think they are both unique enough that neither one could reasonably be declared better than the other, they’re in two different categories. Cut from the same cloth, as you say, but went different places with it.

        Or as my brother put it, they have the same father (James Brown), but different mothers (the other influences), which is what makes them different.


  2. I never compared the two because of race. I compared the two because of style and the type of music they created. I used to idolize Michael Jackson when I was a child. I always looked at him as someone as a friend, which is why I think so many children are drawn to him. I cannot tell you how many pictures I had drawn and painted with me an Michael. When I was 13, I became a Prince fan. They both have sex appeal, but I find Prince sexier than Michael. I had created artwork of Prince and strangely, I am in none of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Baby be mine is not a bad song, but I think it doesn’t fit in with the lineup of songs on Thriller. It almost sounds like a song that was cut from the Off The Wall album. Which 2 ME was his best album, that whole album moved.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was only a couple of years ago I was made aware of the apparent “rivalry” between the two. But I know both of them respected each other. I would have loved to have heard a mf/prince collabo like Bad was supposed to be. I think looking back on both of them that Prince was definitely more of an experimenter than MJ. There are some albums of Prince I can get into and some I can’t but I am glad that he didn’t just go one way, because how else will you find out what you like as a Musician? I have listened to Purple rain and I like maybe 3 or 4 tracks. As for Thriller I like every track except baby be mine…actually baby be mine has grown on me but it is still not a track I would highly recommend for someone to listen to.


  5. Great article! Personally I love Prince’s early work. But, once him and The Revolution split, I did not like his music that much anymore. And I love all of Michael Jackson’s albums. As far as Thriller vs. Purple Rain, Thriller wins hands down for me. The only song I don’t like is “The Girl is Mine.” It would have been perfect if “Say Say Say” was on there instead. I love some of the songs on Purple Rain – especially “Let’s Go Crazy.” But overall, Thriller has more great songs.


    • Thanks for reading. I also thought that Prince should have kept The Revolution around longer. While I have continued to like a lot of music since then, I don’t think any of his follow-up bands were as tight as the classic line-up of The Revolution was.


  6. “Darling Nikki” is pure genius. Listen to those drums, Princes singing, guitar…
    “Take me with u” live? Have you listened to it?
    Prince can make any song great when played live. Could Michael do that?

    Prince made it all and Michael needed 200 people to make “Thriller”.

    Any musician would say Prince is waaayy better artist than Michael and only fans and people that don’t know much about Music prefer Michael.

    Is Madonna better than Nina Simone?

    …and Prince danced his ass off on high heels Michael wouldnt be able to walk.


    • Not gonna argue with you (since the main point of this post is that there’s no reason to). I still think Thriller is a better album than Purple Rain, but that’s my personal opinion. And for the record I’m not familiar with the work of Nina Simone but I am a lifelong fan of Madonna. But thanks for reading!


  7. Asking me to choose between Prince and Michael Jackson is like asking me to choose between my son and daughter. Can’t do it.

    For personal preference, I think Michael Jackson was the better entertainer, but Prince was the better all-around musician and one of the greatest guitarists EVER. Prince could sing and dance and write songs like Michael, but then he could also arrange, produce and perform his music as well. None of that child prodigy stuff for Prince. He was a self-made man. No shade on Michael, but Prince is the greatest pop music phenomenon since The Beatles.

    As he said, “U must become a prince before u’re king anyway,” Nuff said.

    Liked by 1 person

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