Prince has achieved legendary status, as confirmed by his Super Bowl appearance several years ago, but with becoming an icon comes the risk of no longer taking risks. The Purple One's new song "Rock and Roll Love Affair," which we'd previously seen called "RNR Affair," struck us as a refreshingly bluesy bit of soul-pop when he performed it on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, but as time goes by there's no getting around this sample-free, Auto-Tune-dodging song's essentially reactionary nature, right down to its arguably rockist title.
That conservatism stares us right in the face in the song's new video. When Prince was an emerging artist, even his performance-based visuals, such as the gender-bending clip for 1979's falsetto-funk "I Wanna Be Your Lover," could still push musical and cultural boundaries. By contrast, the video for "Rock and Roll Affair," which is now available as a single, shows Prince in shades and a monarchy-befitting but not totally insane suit, performing with his band beneath chandeliers, in a fairly traditional mix of color and black-and-white footage. Rock'n'roll, see? Unfortunately, this "Affair" is almost defiantly in the missionary position. Then again, in our current libidinous pop context, maybe that's the point.