This song is about a sexual encounter with Nikki, a sex fiend the singer encounters in a hotel lobby "masturbating with a magazine." Prince released many songs that deal explicitly with sex, but many of them went unnoticed because they were not released as singles. This one got more attention because the album was so popular.
Prince wrote this song for his movie Purple Rain (the album serves as the soundtrack). In the film, he finds out his girlfriend, Apollonia, has taken up with his nemesis Morris, so he sings this song to her in a club to embarrass her, which it does - she runs off before the performance is done.
When Tipper Gore (wife of former US vice-president Al Gore) heard her 11-year-old daughter listening to this song, she became outraged and started the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) to fight against songs with offensive lyrics. Led by the wives of US politicians, the PMRC got hearings on the issue where musicians like Frank Zappa, Dee Snider and John Denver spoke against any form of censorship in music. Tipper was vilified by many who supported the right to free speech, and no laws were passed restricting lyrics.
The controversy did lead to a voluntary system where record labels put warning stickers on albums containing explicit content. In 1991, when Walmart announced they would not sell any albums with warning stickers, many artists began releasing both clean and explicit versions of their albums.
In 2001, Prince became a Jehovah's Witness, which put an end to his sexually charged lyrics and shelved this song - for a while. He started playing it again in 2007.
At the very end of the song, it sounds as if there is a choir singing a bizarre, foreign language in almost a "jazz-scat meets gospel" style. Prince used a technique called backmasking to record this section. Played forwards, it just sounds merely like a strange gospel chorale. Played backwards, the choir is singing, "Hello! How are you? I'm fine, 'Cuz I know that the lord is coming soon... Coming, coming soon!"
It is a very clear example of intentional backmasking. You can verify this using a computer containing software that can reverse digital files. Prince also used backmasking on many songs on the Purple Rain album, and subsequent albums to follow.
Suggestion credit: Dave - Marieta, GA
The Foo Fighters released a new version of this song in 2003 as the B-side of their Have It All single (It also appears on their compilation Medium Rare).
Tupac Shakur's "Heartz of Men," from his 1996 album All Eyez on Me, features a sample of this song.
On the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith came up with his own lyrics to this song when he was trapped in a basement with his new girlfriend during an earthquake in the episode "Did the Earth Move For You?" He sang:
"I'm stuck in a basement, sittin' on a tricycle, girl gettin' on my nerves Goin' outta my mind, I thought she was fine, don't know if her body is hers."
Staarlord from IaAlso, Nikki doesn't have to necessarily be a real name for a person to which he is referring, but rather just a fun name to use for the subject. He could have been masturbating to Claudia Schiffer, for all we knew, and that he, the masturbator, was the sex fiend(if to assume the masturbation route). Or the song could have been about a sex fiend ex. The Nikki Six theory is an interesting one, though.
Staarlord from IaI actually just think it's about masturbation. Any popular models called Nikki? I think the fact that he "met her in a hotel lobby '(while?) masturbating to a magazine..." and the "...and Nikki started to cry" is not referring to tears, but to the outcome...which is essentially ejaculating on the magazine. So, since he established the fact that he "first met Nikki in a hotel lobby," I'm assuming that she had regularly been masturbated to, possibly using devices as well. I don't know, it just sounds like a song about masturbation in general, possibly even taking into consideration how women tend to do it.
Rory from All Up In My HeadCome to think of it ... what if it was about Nikki Sixx, but not at all sexual? No no wait, go with me on this. What if it was just about going over to Nikki's house to jam? And it just happened to sound sexual, partly because of the masturbating, and partly because Prince could write a song about fence posts and it would have sounded sexual.
Rory from All Up In My HeadI have a theory ... what if this isn't about a girl at all, but about Nikki Sixx? Guys are more apt to be masturbating with a magazine, grinding is also something you do with a bass guitar, and at the time "Darling Nikki" was written, Nikki certainly could have had everything that money could buy. Heck, so could Prince. They were both hitting their peak fame in 1984, both a little (or a lot) into the drug and sex scene. I just wonder who asked whom to sign his name on the dotted line. Sounds more like something the notoriously private Prince would ask.
And maybe that's why, on the DVD, Wendy and Lisa's reference to who the song was about was inaudible.
Alex from TexasAnybody notice that this song sounds like the premise for the movie 50 Shades of Grey? Even down to the signing of a contract? Or am I missing something?
Johnny from Claxton, GaSorry Dutch... that's not even close to correct. The 1999 album was no where near the beginning of Prince's sexuality... not even close. Prince busted out of the gate with sexually charged content. His first album contained the sexy "Soft and Wet" and the line "I wanna be the only one you come for" in "I Wanna be Your Lover"... his third studio album "Dirty Mind" is quite possibly the most sexually explicit mainstream album ever made... lol. It was his first album that was touched by only his hands... kept far away from the meddling record execs that censored his first two efforts... lyrics about coming on a wedding dress and a sister turning out a younger brother and threesomes were shocking to say the least back then. 1999 was downright tame compared to "Dirty Mind." Dirty Mind was tantalizing dirty... only three songs off of it could actually be played on the radio.
Tyler from Rochester, NyTo Dan, He's backmasked songs on a few of his albums. Baby I'm A Star starts out with it and ends with it:guitarist Wendy Melvoin. There might be some in Let's Go Crazy, also on the follow up album Around the World in a Day:Bside Girl(long version)
Prince also used backmasking on many songs off the Purple Rain album, and subsequent albums to follow." Is this true?- Dan, West Hartford, CT
Tashey from Pittsburgh, Philippinesi really love this song it's one of my favorite songs actually it is my favorite song.
Nikki from Springcreek, Pawait...why is Nikki a name associated with the devil? lolz...I've never heard such a thing.
Applejacks from City Of Wind, IlOK i had herd about a particular meaning of this song and i choose to stick w/this. i heard the song is about selling his soul to the devil. and if you think about it he talks about darling "nikki", nikki being name associated w/the devil. she took him to her "castle", she had so many "devices". and to bring it home "she said sign your name on the dotted line". then how ironic is at that at the end of such a racy song he's talking about the lord coming home soon. i think this explanation makes sense and i like the idea so i have been keeping this in mind when i think about the song!
Fernand from Bronx, NyActually!!! I remember this Song Played Live in the Purple Rain Tour when the song was over, they played the end part, in the normal, non-backmasking way!! Sounded like a nice tune. Beautiful Backmasking!!!
Angel from Anaheim, CaTo ma_cherie, if you listen to Little Nikki...he says "Masterbating with Magazine". Besides how can you masterbate IN a magazine if you're in person?? Just asking! Oh and I LOVE Prince and Little Nikki is one of my favs!!
Victoria from Warren, RiI love this song because when i first heard it my sis and i made up a dance 2 it
Ma_cherie from Little Rock, ArI believe the correct lyrics are "Masturbating *IN* a magazine."
Janie from Atlanta, GaTo Nikki in Newcastle, my dad wanted to name me Vanity after Vanity 6. You definitely got off better.
Dan from West Hartford, Ct"Prince also used backmasking on many songs off the Purple Rain album, and subsequent albums to follow." Is this true?
Dutch from Warrington Cheshire, England My first encounter with Prince was with the albums 'Controversy' and '1999'. From the moment I heard '1999' I wanted to play it on New Year's eve, 1999. It was Murphy's Law that I was working that New Year's Eve... His sexual expression started in the track 'DMSR' on 1999. Small extract: 'Strip right down 2 ur underwear and work ur body like a whore'... To me the man is a living Legend, and indeed, many have performed big, big hits from the hands of Prince. Tom Jones' 'Kiss' put Sir Tom back on stage, and the list is endless.. Let's not forget that the way he writes is what we all use in chat-lingo, using numbers instead of letters to abbreviate the words. It's just a shame that he doesn't tour as much..
Nikki from Newcastle, EnglandI was named after this song ... how special do i feel??! Oh, and foo fighters version is mint! Haha
Dennis from Anchorage, AkI very rarely write lyrics that could be called "explicit," and I'll never have a hit song or record deal anyway, so it doesn't matter, but if I ever do, I will never authorize 'edited versions' of my songs and I will never buy a CD at WalMart. And as "principled" as they are about explicit song lyrics, they don't mind selling movies with filthy scenes in them. This is because no one will release edited versions of movies and money is clearly a higher priority for WalMart than morality.
Max from New York, United StatesThe foo fighters version isnt as good as princes
Shawn from Lansing, MiHas anyone heard any theories about who this song is about? I never really thought about it until I was watching the 20th Anniversary DVD reissue of Purple Rain. In one of the documentaries Wendy and Lisa are talking about the song and one of them whispers to the other "I think he was singing about..." but they don't let you hear who it is. It could have been done for show, to raise suspicions about it but it actually did make me curious. It had never occurred to me to wonder about it before. It's a great song. I was in the fourth grade when this album came out. I remember buying the record with money I won in a drawing to reward those of us who sold X amount of candy bars in a school fundraiser. I hung the poster that came with it on my wall and then shortly afterwards my mom scratched up this track on my record up with a hair pin when she heard the lyrics. Then she did the same thing with the b-side of my "Let's Go Crazy" 45, "Erotic City". I was very upset and learned to hide my "dirty" records after that. If she only knew then what would happen lyrically in music over the next 20 years.....This was actually pretty shocking in 1984 and I believe this was the song that taught me the word "masturbating", which I probably would have ignored had my mom not freaked out.
Vincent from Littleredcorrvette.com, United StatesIs NOT riduclous @ all. It's only in YOUR mind. This was the original "BAD" song that lead 2 everything with a stciker now. Everyone oneelse tried 2 top this songs dirty lyrix with cusses and bad words. This man has style!
Jake from Philadelphia, PaPrince, in my mind, is very unique. I love the way he expresses his thoughts about sex and current events. I think his lyrics are amazing.
Amanda from Palm Coast, FlFoo Fighters darling nikki is really good i heard it on o rock and i loved it so i downloaded it... its a lil bit perverted, but its better than prince's version.
Derrick from Linden, Cathis song is awesome. i like the foo fighters version also.
Jam Kemal from Lindua, South AfricaMy favourite song on the Purple Rain album. "She said sign your name on the dotted line, lights went out Nikki start to griiiind" FUNKY!
Mike from Seattle, WaPrince commented that this was the "coldest song ever written." He also stated that the Revolution was the perfect band for it.
Austin from Charlotte, NcI think prince is one of the music industries biggest sex symbols.
Randell from Mounds, OkWhen the Foo Fighters recorded the new version of this song Prince asked Dave Grohl not to put it on the new album "One By One", so the Foo Fighters just gave the song to radio stations to play. You could also download this song off of the Foo Fighters website.
Dave from Marieta, GaAt the very end "Darling Nikki", on the Purple Rain album, it sounds as if there is a choir singing a bizzare, foreign language, in almost a "jazz-scat meets gospel" style. Actually, Prince used a technique called backmasking to record this. Played forwards, it just sounds merely like a strange gospel chorale. Played backwards, the choir is actually singing "HELLO! HOW ARE YOU? I'M FINE, 'CUZ I KNOW THAT THE LORD IS COMING SOON...COMING, COMING, SOON!" It is a very clear example of intentional backmasking. You can verify this using a computer containing software that can reverse wav or mp3 files. Prince also used backmasking on many songs off the Purple Rain album, and subsequent albums to follow.
Michael from Bohemia, NyCompared to what's out there now, seems riduclous to make such a big deal about a song that wasn't even released as a single.