This week, we are (finally) getting to the first of many Prince features on SOTW. It’s Automatic from the iconic 1999.
Alright, sure, the music video quickly devolves into all kinds of early-80s purple bananas, but Automatic is still one of the strongest tracks on the already beefy 1999.
Immediately, the intergalactic synths and high-pitched drones evoke pure Gary Numan vibes. However, Prince’s deft use of the drum machine balances that roboticness with a very human funkiness that parallels the lyrics uncannily. These allusions between the mechanic and the sexual provide just another dimension to Prince’s full-throttle sexuality in this period, while his stuttered vocal inflections are like not just a bed shaking, but glitching.
Of course, like many of his best tracks, we get a smutty spoken word section in the bridge of this thing, with lyrics that’d sound laughable coming from anyone else. There’s something about Prince’s charisma that can pull off the most self-serious attempts of sexiness with ease — I’m buying it, a little too easily, you might say.
This translates into the conclusion of the track, with Lisa’s S&M break coinciding with guitar wailing that, I think, can be appropiately described as orgasmic — at risk of being gross. This is before going straight back into party mode with those four-to-the-floor 808s, rounding out almost 10 minutes of Prince at his most debauched.