U Got the Look

Album: Sign O' the Times (1987)
Charted: 11 2
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  • In this classic Prince lust song, he sets it up in the introduction:

    Here we are folks
    The dream we all dream off
    Boy versus girl in the World Series of love

    From there, he trades banter with Sheena Easton, setting up their inevitable bedroom encounter (where they will "get to rammin'").

    The song appears to take place in a nightclub, where she walks in and gets his attention with her tough-but-pretty look. When the house lights (the "ugly lights") come on at closing time, they trade a few barbs, with Prince zinging her for wearing excessive makeup, but then changing tack, telling her she's a natural beauty. It's all maneuvering to seal the deal, which might not have lived up to the buildup. Prince sings:

    Did I say an hour?
    My face is red, I stand corrected
  • This was Sheena Easton's first performance on a Prince song. Two years earlier, he gave her the lascivious song "Sugar Walls," which was a big US hit for the Scottish singer and part of her transformation from wholesome pop singer (see: "Morning Train (Nine To Five)") to rebellious vixen.

    Prince also wrote Easton's 1987 single "Eternity," and the pair co-wrote a few tracks together, including "La, La, La, He, He, Hee," which Prince recorded for the B-side of his "Sign O' the Times" single. Using the pseudonym "Joey Coco," Prince also wrote two songs for Easton's 1988 album The Lover in Me: "101" and "Cool Love."
  • Prince didn't write this song as a duet, but after Easton did "Sugar Walls," he asked her to come in to sing backup on the song. When Easton started singing her parts, Prince realized that it worked better as a duet, so they arranged the song in that manner, with the pair singing to each other.
  • Sheila E. added percussion to this track and appeared in the video. She was an early Prince protégé who recorded several of his songs, including her biggest hit, "The Glamorous Life." She toured as the opening act on his Purple Rain tour, where she would do some of the acrobatic drumming she shows off in the video for "U Got the Look."
  • Long before it became popular for texting, Prince used a shorthand in his songs, so:


    Some of his other song titles include "I Would Die 4 U" and "Nothing Compares 2 U."
  • According to the liner notes in Prince's The Hits / The B-Sides compilation, he had a female friend who only liked songs she was familiar with - the hits. To see what she would think of a hit song before it was popular, he put together "U Got the Look" making it as commercially viable as he could, with a structure and tempo he knew would work.
  • Easton explained the recording process in a 2012 interview with the Chicago Windy City Times: "'U Got The Look' was a track he'd basically finished for himself. It was just a Prince track. He said, 'Do you want to just come in and sing some backup vocals on the choruses?' So I went into the studio, and because I didn't know I was singing against him... I was all over the place - and he said he kind of liked that, so he expanded it into a duet."
  • This earned Grammy nominations for Best R&B Vocal, Duo or Group and Best R&B Song.
  • The music video, directed by David Hogan, was shot in Paris and was incorporated into the Sign O' the Times concert film. In the clip, Prince falls asleep in his dressing room and dreams of an energetic performance in front of an adoring crowd. Vying for his attention are three sexy women who've "got the look": duet partner Sheena Easton, his percussionist Sheila E, and dancer Cat Glover doing her trademark "Cat Scat" move.

    Prince earned a reputation for giving directors the cold shoulder (in the book I Want My MTV, producer Simon Fields claimed the Purple One would "mess with directors" by either refusing to communicate with them or just taking the projects over himself). Hogan, however, said nothing could be further from the truth in his experience. He told Songfacts Prince was "definitely the top 5 of pleasant artists to work with. He was great, just accommodating."

    When Prince did offer input, it was to prevent hassle, not create it. Hogan remembered wanting a better close-up of the singer, but Prince didn't see the point. He said: "Hogan, if we f--k up, it will still be great." (Check out our full interview with David Hogan.)
  • The video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video.
  • Prince's half-sister, Lorna Nelson, tried to sue the singer after claiming she wrote the hook to this song. The court sided with Prince.
  • Prince's engineer Susan Rogers recalled to Uncut: "We spent a long time on 'U Got the Look.' There was one 48-hour session, which was uncharacteristic. He changed tempos, keys and feel. It was not originally intended to be a duet, but Sheena Easton was around, and he loved her voice so he invited her in."

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 28th 1987, Sheena Easton was a guest on the NBC-TV police drama series 'Miami Vice'...
    At the time, in a duet with Prince, she was on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at #8 with "U Got the Look"; a little over two weeks earlier on October 11th it had peaked at #2* {for 1 week} and it spent almost a half-year on the Top 100 {25 weeks}...
    Her next release, "The Lover In Me", would also peak at #2 on the Top 100..
    Ms. Easton, born Sheena Shirley Orr, will celebrate her 57th birthday this coming April 27th {2016}...
    * The week "U Got the Look" was at #2, the #1 record for that week was "Lost In Emotion" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam.
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