With a career as illustrious as The Purple One, Prince Rogers Nelson, you’d expect his figurative trophy cabinet to be littered with chart-topping trophies. But in the UK only one song ever saw Prince take the coveted top spot, 1994’s ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’.
Released in February of that year, it would eventually rise to the top of the charts by April and secured Prince his only number one in Britain. Today, as we mark the occasion, we’re trying to find out exactly who the most beautiful girl was for Prince. And it’s harder than you think.
‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’, we’d imagine, has been played at countless weddings, proposals, romantic dinners and otherwise boudoir-related activities. It’s ubiquitous nature felt so singular that it soon jumped to the top of the charts. But who was Prince really singing about?
The track was the lead single from Prince’s 1994 EP The Beautiful Experience and his latter 1995 album The Gold Experience. It was the singer’s third major single release under his then-new moniker, ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’ or TAFKAP for short. The track also marks a slight anomaly as it was shared by NPG Records and Edel Music, no Prince’s usual distributor, Warner Bros.
Most people believe it was Warner’s shot at showing Prince just how hard it is to release a single. They let him take on the release under his own label and hoped it would put the singer off doing it again. But, sadly for them, Prince scored his first UK number one and he had a taste for independent living.
‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ had a rather unusual initial release. Widely believed to be about his soon-to-be-fiancee Mayte Garcia, Prince begun to appear in trade magazines suggesting a new song would be premiered at the Miss USA pageant. The ads saw Prince sitting in a chair with a hat pulled down over his face, and Garcia standing next to his chair.
Garcia had been part of Prince’s performance group, New Power Generation before becoming involved with Prince, “Mayte’s mother convinced some members of the New Power Generation to give her [audition] video to Prince. Ten minutes later, Prince had invited her backstage, and for two years, the two kept in touch. Finally, when she was eighteen, Prince asked her to be a part of the NPG”
The pair’s romance was well-documented and despite ending in tragedy, was a moment of Garcia’s life that she remembers fondly to this day. Her 2017 memoir The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince is a kindly reminder of the good times they shared but as she reveals in the book, despite the title, the song isn’t actually about Garcia. Not really.
“I know of three women, besides me, who believe it was written specifically for them,” Garcia writes in her book, “I hope every woman who hears it thinks it was written specifically for her. Because it was.” It’s an expected ethos from one of the music world’s most unlikely lotharios.
Garcia goes further to prove her point, “Take a look at the music video. You won’t see me in it. You’ll see a collage of girls and women of every age, race and body type. This was his love song for all of us.” Listen below the mercurial Prince’s love letter to all womankind.