“1999” is the titular song and lead single of Prince’s 1982 breakout album. The song–the album opener–introduces an apocalyptic universe that asks the listener to live their life until they can’t anymore, or party ‘til it’s 1999. When Prince initially submitted the album to Warner Bros., “1999” did not exist, but the label asked him to produce a song that summarized the theme of the LP. The song was recorded at Kiowa Trail Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota on the same day as “Little Red Corvette,” August 7, 1982. It was mixed at Sunset Sound Studio in Hollywood.
Many people believed the world would end in the year 2000. To “party like it’s 1999” would imply having the party of your life, as you would do if you were partying for the last time before the world ends. Originally, the song was supposed to be a 3-part harmony between Prince and the Revolution members Dez Dickerson and Lisa Coleman, similar to Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine Of My Life”. Jill Jones also provides additional vocals. It’s assumed that it is Prince who uses the Vox Wah machine that makes the robotic and toddler voices at the beginning and end of the song.
“1999” was highly successful, especially with the many re-releases and performances leading up, into, and through the year 1999. “For a time, it was Prince’s trademark song and was arguably his most popular, only second in sales to the next song and single from 1999, “Little Red Corvette.” It overtook the No. 1 spot on the Hot Dance Club Play Billboard Chart from "Nasty Girl,” by Prince-assembled band Vanity 6. Its original B-Side, “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore,” became a cult favorite and a big hit later on itself.
The song’s underlying message delivers an anti-war agenda inspired by The Mamas and the Papas song “Monday, Monday.” “1999” continued the fear of the beginning of the week by inspiring “Manic Monday”, released by the Bangles but originally written by Prince for another of his bands, Apollonia 6. After the turn of the century, Prince vowed to “retire” the song, probably due to his ongoing battles with Warner Bros. who controlled the masters to a majority of his work.