A graph fit for a Prince


I was sad to hear that one of my favorite singers, Prince, died last week. This blog post describes a graph I created to show his legacy.

Prince was at the height of his popularity when I was in high school and college, which were the formative years for much of my musical taste. And if my life had a soundtrack, I would probably have several of his songs on it. Especially the time period when I owned this little red 1975 Corvette ...


My friend Patricia is also a big Prince fan. She's a writer who has interviewed many musicians, and has actually met Prince. Well ... at least in the spirit of Charlie Murphy's Prince skit on the Chappelle show. Is this the real Prince - I'll let you be the judge!


While feeling nostalgic, and searching out "all things Prince" on the Internet, I came upon the following interesting graph on the fivethirtyeight website. It was an eye-catching graph, but it was a bit confusing, and didn't quite do Prince justice, imho. At first, I thought the songs inside the Prince-symbol had some special significance ... but after studying it a while I decided they didn't. I also wondered which 40 songs were in the graph (Were all my favorites there? Were there perhaps some songs I hadn't heard before?) The graph didn't really enlighten me...


A graph fit for a Prince #SASgraph Click To TweetSo I found the Billboard article with the data, imported it into SAS, and set about making my own graph ... a graph fit for a Prince!

I simplified the titles and axes a bit, got rid of the Prince symbol, and added labels to each of the songs. These small changes made a huge difference. And (if you click the graph below, to see the interactive version), I added html hover text to each song showing the name, highest rank, and year. You can also click each song marker to launch a Google search for that song, which usually locates the music video.


So, for you Prince fans out there, what was your favorite Prince song, and why? Do you perhaps have an interesting Prince story to share?


About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

Related Posts


  1. Pingback: My top 10 graph blog posts of 2016! - SAS Learning Post

  2. Doug DeGrote on

    It would be great to see the same type chart with songs written by Prince but performed by other singers. I will ponder this idea while I am eating my purple bagel (purple in honor of the great one.)

  3. Manuel Bolívar on

    My favorites ever are The Ballad of Dorothy Parker, Condition of the Heart and Alphabet Street. Mainly because I used to be a dj apprentice at that time and I loved all that magic sounds created by him. I still love his music "more than I hate to see us sad" for his fate. This remembers me another, Strange Relationship, a must listen to. Cheers.

  4. Celeste Cooper-Peel on

    Where do I begin? I liked so many of his songs. 1999 was always a favorite and I certainly had no idea at that time that I would have a daughter born that year. Seemed so futuristic. I loved Red Corvette too. A fond memory is that Purple Rain was released a day after my 16th birthday. We lived in a small town and I had to wait for it to come to our town. A group of us went to the drive-in (when they still existed) and watched the movie. Movie wasn't my favorite but the music was great! Bringing it to present day, I just went to a yoga class on Saturday where the teacher paid tribute and the whole class was Prince music. It took me back to my high school days. Cool article and graph! Thanks for sharing.

  5. The summer between high school and college, I worked at the concession stand at a roller rink and Prince's Red Corvette was played a lot, along with several Michael Jackson songs. I generally favored classical music or oldies (we had a station that played a lot of 60s music), so the roller rink was my exposure to what was current Top 40. I had misheard the lyrics as 'paying the rent collect', and I thought that would be pretty cool!

  6. Let's Go Crazy is my all time favorite. Anyone who knows me, will know why. It suits me. :) It was 1984, the year after I graduated from high school. I was introduced to Prince as an artist beyond his top hits by a guy who just loved Prince. That summer, a group of us went to the theater to see Purple Rain and I purchased Dirty Mind/Controversy on cassette tape as well as Purple Rain soundtrack on vinyl! Thus, a fan was born.

    • Robert Allison
      Robert Allison on

      I liked the soundtrack better than the movie itself - but I'm glad I watched/listened to both. :)

  7. Red Corvette is my favorite, probably because it was popular in 1983 the last time the Wolfpack won the NCAA basketball national championship. That and I have simple tastes. He was certainly talented and SAS is still the best!

Back to Top