The tune, titled "This Could Be Us," was reportedly inspired by the ubiquitous-a-few-months-ago hashtag #ThisCouldBeUsButYouPlayin, and will appear on a yet-untitled solo album (Not to be confused Plectum Electrum, a forthcoming release featuring his band 3rdEyeGirl).
Prince explained that the next song, "This Could Be Us," was inspired by a meme of him and Apollonia riding on a motorcycle, clearly a scene taken from the 1984 movie "Purple Rain." It's a joyful ballad with some ecstatic Prince vocalizing.
It's the second time in recent memory that Prince has raided the pop-cultural consciousness for new material: Last year, he released "Breakfast Can Wait," a quietly funky single that featured Dave Chapelle playing the purple one on its cover.
The newfound omnivorousness is strange for a musician who spent much of the last decade sealing himself off from his audience, serving copyright complaints over cover versions, fan videos, and Vines that featured his music. What does it mean when his own work draws from the same online sharing culture he continually battles against?
Probably nothing. It's possible that "This Could Be Us" represents Prince taking back agency over his own meme-ified image, but it seems more likely he saw the hashtag, was amused, and penned a song. Self-aware jokester is a good look for 2014 Prince, despite the apparent contradiction, and well-reasoned moral stances were never exactly his strong suit, anyway.