Prince Gets Naughty On Video With ‘Insatiable': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Recorded in 1990 and released on the Diamonds and Pearls album a year later, “Insatiable” remains one of Prince’s most seductive, sultry tunes.
In similar fashion to 1989’s “Scandalous," the mood is set with twinkly keyboards and Prince’s signature falsetto. He begins his seduction with the lyrics “Turn the lights off / Strike a candle," and just like that, the mood is set. Prince compares his sexual frenzy to that of “a wildcat...in a celibate rage” and promises to record a private video of the romantic encounter. In a moment of surprising restraint (given Prince’s proclivity toward the sexually explicit), he sings “I’ll show my... / if you show your…” with the spaces filled by keyboard stabs. The extended vamp at the song’s end (partially spoken by Prince in a dusky murmur) continues the cat-and-mouse lyrical game.
In Spin's review of Diamonds & Pearls, Scott Poulson-Bryant called “Insatiable” a piece of “gliding retro-soul balladry,” singling the song out as a highlight in an overall positive review. PopMatters’ Dave Heaton seemed to echo Bryant’s assessment in a retroactive piece posted on the site in 2013, calling the song “a classic Prince late-night, slow-jam love-making ballad.” Interestingly, “Insatiable” is one of the Prince songs that post-dates the construction of his Paisley Park studio complex in Minneapolis but was not recorded there. Larabee Sound Studios in Southern California provided the backdrop for its creation.
“Insatiable” was released as Diamonds’ third single, following the raucous rap jam “Gett Off” and the No. 1 smash “Cream." Geared towards urban radio (not being serviced at all to pop stations by Warner Bros.), “Insatiable” reached No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B chart but, due to a lack of presence at Top 40 radio, it only managed a No. 77 peak on the Billboard Hot 100. Still, “Insatiable” was one of the drivers that led the album to become Prince’s first non-movie affiliated album to be certified multi-platinum since 1985’s Around the World in a Day.
“Insatiable”’s video featured Prince sporting an all-black outfit, very similar to the outfit worn in some of the photos that appear in the CD booklet for 1993’s The Hits/The B-Sides compilation, employing some of his sexiest moves in a candlelit room. An attractive woman follows his every move with a camera. She was played be the actual video’s director, Randee St. Nicholas. The acclaimed visual artist went on to direct videos for Babyface, Toni Braxton, Britney Spears and Miranda Lambert, but only rarely appeared in front of the camera. The clip was shot in late 1991 at Hollywood Center Studios in California.
During the 2000 press conference in which Prince announced that he was changing his name back to “Prince” after seven years of being referred to by an unpronounceable symbol, Prince announced that “Insatiable” was one of the songs he planned to include on a retrospective album called When 2 R in Love: The Ballads of Prince. Scheduled to be released later that year, the project never came to life. It’s not known whether Prince intended to use the original version or re-record the song, but given Prince’s highly strained relationship with Warner Bros. at the turn of the century, it’s highly unlikely that he would have been able to license his original recording. Prince remained fond of the song, though, and performed it intermittently through 2014. It remains a highlight of Prince’s extensive catalog of “quiet storm”-type slow jams, and is still the perfect song with which to set up a night of seduction.