Musicology is the thirtieth studio album by Prince, released on April 20, 2004, which proved to be his most successful in years, reaching the Top 5 of the album charts in the U.S, UK, Germany, and many other countries.
Musicology was the first album in five years that Prince released through a major label (Sony Music) and, being partially recorded in Mississauga, Ontario, was his first to be recorded outside Minneapolis in many years. Musicology is R&B themed.
At the end of the song "Musicology" snippets of "Kiss", "Little Red Corvette", "Sign o' the Times", "17 Days" and "If I Was Your Girlfriend" can be heard. At the time of release Prince was quoted as saying he wished the album to provide musical education to listeners.
Musicology came as a pleasant surprise to fans and more so Prince since it turned out to be his most successful album since Diamonds And Pearls of 1991; be that chance or design, who knows. “Music comes before the ‘ology” tells Prince as the album is intended to be an education in music – ‘schools in’ for Musicology. We see a more chilled out Prince finally succumbing to forge his long awaited return to commercialism and give fans their much awaited ‘proper’ album – one once more full of radio-friendly tunes – having found his voice again since the instrumental fizzles of two preceding albums. Musicology heralds Prince’s commercial reawakening and wider audience appeal, that which made his name in the ’80s and dedicated the 90’s trying to disassociate his name from. It is clear Prince wants to be played on the radio again. Musicology is catchy and the tracks are a commercially consumable four minutes apiece. Although not art artful as The Rainbow Children (this is intentional) it is equally inspired and more importantly a ‘comeback’ album (although Prince himself would never attest to that fact). The outstanding tracks are A Million Days, Call My Name, Cinnamon Girl, The Marrying Kind and Dear Mr. Man all making truly enjoyable listening. The surprisingly down-to-earth Musicology hits its stride perfectly but it give you a musical ‘ology’? No. It is more commercial than conceptual – Prince’s ‘break glass in case of emergency’ album since Paisley Park has bills to pay. If only all studying was as enjoyable, example; Life O’ The Party, the weakest track, even it manages to spring to life with repeated listening – underlining the quality of the overall work. Warner Brothers better start repairing those burnt bridges fast, since after 10 years in chart abyss Prince has discovered “money and art …[really can]… mix”.