Can you keep a secret? Carmen Electra is the sexiest female on the planet, she is inevitable, she is addictive, this is our future, this is Carmen Electra
By 1992 Prince started receiving criticism on his own label Paisley Park Records for giving too little attention to acquisition. More and more, it seemed that Prince’s latest flame received a crash-course singing, in order to record rest material, only to see the project fall into oblivion. Was Carmen Electra a (prime) example?
Tara Leigh Patrick was born on April 20, 1972. Her career started in 1990 as dancer in the Ohio show It’s Magic. Early 1991 she moved to Minneapolis, where she was soon introduced to Prince. She signed a deal, and was renamed “Carmen Electra” by Prince, the name she would use for the rest of her career.
Recordings for her album started in the spring of 1991 and (probably) ended in the summer of 1992. The first physical release by Carmen Electra was the single Go Go Dancer, on June 18, 1992. Prince wasn’t in his best form around 1991 and 1992. Both Diamonds And Pearls and O(+> are part of the weakest music he ever released (in my opinion, that is). So, the stars weren’t perfectly aligned for Carmen Electra’s debut.
On February 9, 1993, Carmen Electra was released on Paisley Park Records. The songs on the album were written between 1988 and 1992. Prince’s influence on the album is huge, he was responsible for the production, plays (and sings) on a lot of the songs and (co)wrote 8 of the album’s 11 songs.
Initially the album was to be called On Top, after the song Carmen On Top, which was first given to Robin Power for her planned debut (called Robin On Top at the time). Carmen Om Top didn’t make the album, just like the songs The Juice, Power From Above, Powerline and Go Carmen Go.
The album is typified by a typical 1990s sound. After re-listening the album, the scratches, new-jack-swing and the obvious ‘pop’ feel stand out. Musically the album is okay, even though it all sounds outdated and the songs are clearly not part of the superior canon Prince used to delegate to his satellite acts. At times, some glorious guitar work can be heard in the background.
The plan was to release the On Top album in June/July 1992. At that time Prince was on the road with his Diamonds And Pearls tour in Europe. Prior to the shows Carmen Electra was introduced in a taped promo that was played on the video screens at the various venues (see the promo in the sub article Carmen Electra – Promo video). But it didn’t end there, from May 25 to June 10 and on June 17 and 19 (14 shows) Carmen Electra was the official support act during the tour. The show had an overtly erotic undertone, with Carmen Electra pole dancing, dancing in a cage and rapping. According to some stories Carmen Electra was dissatisfied with her salary and stopped the shows.
The promotion garnered a lot of attention for Carmen Electra, but the album wasn’t released according to plan and was delayed for more than 6 months. I really do feel Prince was into the album (the promo contains the words “to listen to her music on a loud system is to come a thousand times”). The back of the album cover also contains glowing texts (which can be found at the top of this article). He even permitted a re-interpretation of his own Adore, coming from masterpiece Sign O’ The Times.
It is said that Warner Bros. spent over $1 million on the album’s promotion. A pure waste. The press tanked the album and sold very, very, poorly. The professional videos and the sexy image were in vain: Carmen Electra was a flop.
But, is its reputation justified? Has time been kind(er) to the album? After Prince’s passing his music has been re-evaluated, his 1990s releases in particular, and has led to a kind of historic revisionism.
The opener, the single Go Go Dancer, introduces the album perfectly. Up-tempo, rap, (great) Prince guitar work in the background, but it lacks the power of conviction.
Shortly after Prince’s passing the motto “not speak ill of the dead” reigned supreme, but it can’t be applied to this album. Carmen Electra’s vocals catch the eye immediately, they come across as stiff and unnatural. Carmen Electra ‘raps’ in a way Prince seemed to like at that time. Her flow is comparable to that of Tony M., the dancer promoted to rapper in The New Power Generation. The comparison is no compliment, even though Public Enemy’s Chuck D. reportedly supported Tony M.’s contributions.
Of course I bought the album, but I didn’t listen to it very much. It’s no highlight for Carmen Electra, for Prince of for his satellite acts. In fact, it ended any possibility for Carmen Electra to build a music career, which says it all basically.
Despite the lack of success, the album still produced 3 singles:
- Go Go Dancer
(released on June 18, 1992)
- Everybody Get On Up
(released on January 21, 1993)
- Fantasia Erotica
(released on August 5, 1993)
In 1998 Paisley Park Studios was cleaned and a batch of DJ promos for the song Fun was found, containing references to the upcoming album On Top. Likely, the promos were unusable following the change of the album title. Consequently, the promos were put up for sale through the 1-800-NEW-FUNK shop.
- Go Go Dancer (1)
- Good Judy Girlfriend (2)
- Go On (Witcha Bad Self) (3)
- Step To The Mic (4)
- S.T. (5)
- Fantasia Erotica (6)
- Everybody Get On Up (7)
- Fun (8)
- Just A Little Lovin’ (9)
- All That (8)
- This Is My House (10)
Songs written by (1): Prince, Tony M. en Carmen Electra, (2): Prince, (3): Tony M. en Levi Seacer, Jr., (4): Prince, Monie Love en Levi Seacer, Jr., (5): Carmen Electra en Tony M., (6): Anna Fantastic (teksten), Karen “K-Dean” Cover (rap) en Prince (muziek), (7): Prince en Carmen Electra, (8): Prince, Carmen Electra en Monie Love, (9): Tony M., Prince, Michael B., Sonny T., Levi Seacer, Jr., Tommy Barbarella, Morris Hayes, Damon Dickson & Kirk Johnson, (10): Carmen Electra en Levi Seacer, Jr.
|Go Go Dancer||Sister Sledge – Lost In Music|
|Good Judy Girlfriend||Sly & The Family Stone – Stand!|
|S.T.||Ohio Players – Skin Tight|
|Everybody Get on Up||The Esquires – Get On Up
Eddie Murphy – Singers
|Fun||Run-DMC – Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse)|
|All That||Prince – Adore|
- Carmen Electra – vocals
- Prince – all instruments, unless stated otherwise, on Go Go Dancer, Good Judy Girlfriend, Step To The Mic, S.T., Fantasia Erotica, Everybody Get On Up, Segue 1 & 2, Fun, Just A Little Lovin’, All That and background vocals on Everybody Get On Up, This Is My House
- Levi Seacer, Jr. – all instruments, unless stated otherwise, on Go On (Witcha Bad Self), This Is My House, guitar on Step To The Mic, Everybody Get On Up, Just A Little Lovin’
- Eric Leeds – saxophone on Go On (Witcha Bad Self), Fun, Segue #2
- The NPG (Michael B., Sonny T., Tommy Barbarella, Rosie Gaines) – drums, bass & keyboards on Step To The Mic, Everybody Get On Up, Just A Little Lovin’
- Keith “K.C.” Cohen – guitar, keyboards on This Is My House
- Joey Moskowitz – keyboards on Fantasia Erotica
- George Black – keyboards on Just A Little Lovin’, All That
- Michael B. Nelson, Steve Strand, Kathy J., Dave Jensen, Brian Gallagher – horns on Step To The Mic, S.T., Everybody Get On Up, Just A Little Lovin’
- Brian “B Quick” – scratches on Fantasia Erotica, Fun
- William ‘Diamond J.’ Graves – scratches on Everybody Get On Up
- Tony M. – vocals/rap on Step To The Mic, S.T., Just A Little Lovin’
- Kathleen Johnson – background vocals on Go Go Dancer
- Monie Love – background vocals on Step To The Mic, Everybody Get On Up
- Fred Steele, JD Steele, Jearlyn Steele, Jevetta Steele – background vocals on Fun, This Is My House
- Damon Dickson – introduction on S.T.
- ? – news reporter on Segue #3
After Prince / Solo career
Carmen Electra didn’t immediately leave the Prince camp, she was the main dancer in the Glam Slam Ulysses show, which was debuted on August 21, 1993. She was the inspiration for a couple of songs, including the beautiful Hate U (coming off The Gold Experience).
Even though Carmen Electra’s musical career wasn’t successful, it did introduce her to the world. In 1997 she was asked to join the popular television show Baywatch. She turned into a national sex symbol. She performed in movies and games, hosted shows, performed with The Pussycat Dolls, wrote a book (How to Be Sexy) and was a juror on So You Think You Can Dance and Britain’s Got Talent. She is also active for non-profit organizations, like Head to Hollywood (for survivors of brain tumors) Elevate Hope (aimed to help abused and abandoned children) and HollyRod Foundation (to help the sick).
Fallout for Prince
Op June 7, 1993, Prince changed his name to and found himself at the start of a long battle with Warner Bros. (also see Prince and the name change). According to legend, the Carmen Electra album was the last straw to break the camel’s back for Warner Bros.. They pulled the plug from Paisley Park Records by the end of 1993.
What’s your take on the Carmen Electra album? Let me know!
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Carmen Electra debuts on Paisley Park.
Because Carmen Electra’s music is not available on Spotify, the A Pop Life playlist hasn’t been updated.
Prince & Carmen Electra 1992 image: reddit.com
Carmen Electra – Carmen Electra image: discogs.com
Carmen Electra promo video still image: Paisley Park
Carmen Electra – Promo material image: ebay.com/eil.com
Carmen Electra – Carmen Electra – Singles image: discogs.com/amazon.com
Prince & Carmen Electra – Filming Go Go Dancer video image: lipstickalley.com