We sorted through every release from one of the most brilliant, and prolific, musicians of all time.
How does one parse a discography as vast as Prince's?
His 39 studio albums—not to mention greatest-hits compilations, live documents, EPs, instrumental detours, and posthumous releases—demand their own rules and vocabulary. That's what Prince spent his four-decade career creating, leaving us with one of the most voluminous and (at times) intimidating bodies of work of any artist, musical or otherwise.
That said, there's almost too much. With dozens of studio releases (only 31 of which we’re counting as distinct, non-instrumental LPs issued under his name and/or symbol) not all of them can be great, betraying a fearless experimentation that fell flat as often as it soared. And then there's the matter of Prince's digital obstinance, a position his estate has largely held since his April 21, 2016, death, only slightly loosening restrictions on making his catalog available via streaming services. Apropos of Prince's old-school work ethic, you may have to track some of these down in physical form to hear the full breadth of this raging, stylish, improbable force-of-will’s prolificacy. Even then, there are hidden tracks, audio pranks, temporal figure-eights, and unreleased songs galore.
We sorted through all of it, and put in the work to rank every last one.