Maximum Performance

After Guesting on ‘New Girl,’ Prince Premieres New Songs at New York Club

Maximum Performance

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While U2 used a Super Bowl ad to preview their new single "Invisible," which will be available for free download all day Monday, Prince upstaged the Irish legends as well as the amateurish Denver Broncos. The Man in Purple guested on the post-Super Bowl Fox sitcom "New Girl," screened two new songs at an Essence party at Club Darby in New York, and made a brief appearance at the spot in the wee hours.

All the commotion – or promotion – was for "PlectrumElectrum," the upcoming debut album with his female-backed band 3rdEyeGirl. A "New Girl" trailer teased the 3rdEyeGirl song "Pretzelbodylogic," which was premiered in full at the New York party. The song, a swaggering, seductive hard rocker, was released for online purchase at midnight. The cut features brash, choppy power chords over a verse that includes the lines, "One hour sleep between ‘em, better than none/ Promoter tried to rob him, we said go ahead son/ 'cause we’re both too sleepy to get the gun."

The chorus of "Pretzelbodylogic" ups the ante, with lascivious female background vocals and Prince singing along note-for-note to a volley of distorted guitars: "Pretzel body logic, yeah it's so much fun/ dreaming of each other on each other's tongue."

[Related: Prince, Ping Pong, and Pancakes on ‘New Girl’]

After a couple of choruses, Prince delivers a wailing, feedback-laden solo. The second song the group showcased, "Funknroll," is not yet available for purchase. It includes a steady rock beat punctuated with some James Brown-style drumming and a driving rhythm accompanied by euphoric gang-vocals.

3rdEyeGirl is composed of Prince, guitarist Donna Grantis, bassist Ida Neilsen, and drummer Hannah Ford Welton. The girls were introduced during the night by ex-Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and Prince back-up dance Demaris Lewis. During the evening, the musicians talked about how much they’ve learned from working with Prince and how they worked hard to make an analog record inspired by Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, as well as more traditional R&B influences.

"We’re a band of four individuals, but we all have a vision and you can hear all of the individuals come together," said Nielsen.

Throughout the night, cell phones were abuzz with texts about how Prince might show up and play at the event. The invite for the show stressed how no cameras or video cameras were allowed, fueling the rumor. The lack of any stage or performance gear at the show, however, killed that idea of any full performance. Still, there was live video of Prince onstage with 3rdEyeGirl, which guests enjoyed as they availed themselves of the open bar and catered food.

At around 1:30 a.m., hip-hop icon Doug E. Fresh showed up to DJ old-school funk and rap records, and those who stuck around past 2 a.m. (the event started at 11:30) were rewarded when Prince entered the club in a fringed vest and oversized sunglasses. He spent a few songs hanging in the DJ booth with the 3rdEyeGirls, then left without saying a word.

It was a strange anticlimax to the long evening, but nothing too surprising from one of the most cryptic legends in the music industry.

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