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Director Tim Burton asked Prince to contribute songs for his Batman movie (at the time, he was using "1999" and "Baby I'm a Star" on a temporary soundtrack). Prince accepted while watching a rough cut of the movie and noticed four places in the film that would be "natural" locations for his songs.
Prince canceled a scheduled Paris vacation to write and produce songs for the movie. A month after the meeting with Burton, he played the director eight songs, all of them synchronized to the film. Burton rejected some of them (including "Rave the Joy Fantastic," and "200 Balloons"), but liked most of what he heard and asked for two additional songs. "Trust" and "Partyman" were quickly offered by the Purple One. In the end, six Prince songs were used in the film:
"Batdance" was not used in the movie, and Prince never offered it up. Comprised of bits Prince pieced together overnight from music, sounds and dialogue from the movie, it served as a companion piece for the film and was essentially promotional vehicle for Batman.
Because of the abundance of music available for the movie (Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo created the instrumental score), there were two soundtrack albums: Elfman's and Prince's. Everything that Prince composed for the movie, whether it was used in the film or not, went onto his album, including "Batdance."
The Batman movie took in over $250 million in America, second only to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989 box office receipts. The film was released on June 23, and quickly became a sensation. "Batdance," a quirky song of little interest to those who hadn't seen the movie, was buoyed by Batman-mania and rose to #1 in America.
Once the film faded, so did interest in the song, which received further airplay only as a curiosity. In the '90s, #1 hits were compiled on CD by a service that distributed them to radio stations. Known as "Gold Discs," there were handy for playing popular songs that had aged a bit. "Batdance" happened to be the first track on one of these discs, so if the DJ forgot to cue to the proper track, the song would inadvertently go to air. So if you heard "Batdance" on the radio in the early-mid '90s, there's a good chance it was a mistake.
Prince's signature color was one of the reasons he was brought into the Batman project. Gary LeMel, then president of the Warner Brothers Music label that had Prince under contract, remembered: "We started seeing dailies, and it so happened that the Joker character was dressed in purple. The cars were purple. It started to point to Prince." LeMel contacted Albert Magnoli to bring the singer on board (Magnoli was Prince's manager and also the director of Purple Rain).
The video shows Prince playing himself and a half-Batman, half-Joker character named "Gemini." Fifteen dancers portrayed Batman, Jokers, and Vicki Vales.
The single version included "200 Balloons," which was not included on the album.
This was Prince's first #1 hit since "Kiss" in early 1986. He would have one more in each country, "Cream" (1991, US) and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (1994, UK).
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