Prince’s Unreleased ‘2020’ Song Envisions a Utopian Future
A decade after one of his most famous songs predicted a date-specific apocalypse, Prince cast his glance further forward to the much brighter future of "2020."
Recorded in 1995 and originally slated for inclusion on 1996's Emancipation, "2020" is an extremely ethereal track that envisions a utopian world without war and fear.
Lyrically it paints a slice-of-life picture of thousands of people gifted with synesthesia, "the subjective sensation of a sense other than the one being stimulated" - for example, a sound evoking sensations of color - dancing together in harmony at a club.
In 1983, Prince played upon Cold War-fueled fears of worldwide nuclear destruction to remind people to joyously celebrate whatever time they had on Earth with the smash hit "1999."
He would go on to prophesize about the future in the lyrics of several more noteworthy songs over the years. He calmly insisted we'd overcome societal problems on "The Future" from 1989's Batman soundtrack, then a decade later urgently called for an intellectual revolution in "2045: Radical Man."
In 2010's "Future Soul Song" Prince dreamed of flying freely above a paradise similar to the one depicted in "2020." Four years later in "Clouds," he pictured himself placed in suspended animation, Buck Rogers-style, and waking up 45 years later in a world where time "was no longer required."
It's nice to think that in 1995 Prince had enough faith in the world to imagine we could solve all of our problems in a decade and a half. Hopefully he's not too disappointed by how far we remain from that goal today.
Hear Prince's "2020"