Purple Rain was the second, after 1999, Prince album recorded with and credited to his backing group the Revolution. The resulting album was musically denser than Prince's previous one-man albums, emphasizing full band performances, and multiple layers of guitars, keyboards, icy electronic synthesizer effects, drum machines, and other instruments. Musically, Purple Rain remained grounded in the electro-funk and R&B elements of Prince's previous work while demonstrating a more pronounced rock feel in its grooves and emphasis on guitar showmanship. As a soundtrack record, much of the music had a grandiose, synthesized, and even—by some evaluations—a vaguely psychedelic sheen to the production and performances. The music on Purple Rain is generally regarded as the most pop-oriented of Prince's career, though a number of elements point towards the more experimental pop/psychedelic records Prince would record after Purple Rain. As with many massive crossover albums, Purple Rain's consolidation of a myriad of styles, from pop rock to urban R&B to dance, is generally acknowledged to account in part for its enormous popularity.
In addition to the record's breakthrough sales, music critics noted the innovative and experimental aspects of the soundtrack's music, most famously on the spare, bass-less "When Doves Cry", which was frequently identified as pop at its most avant-garde. Other aspects of the music, especially its synthesis of electronic elements with organic instrumentation and full-band performances (some, as noted above, recorded live) along with its landmark consolidation of rock and R&B, were identified by critics as distinguishing, even experimental factors. Stephen Erlewine of Allmusic writes that Purple Rain finds Prince "consolidating his funk and R&B roots while moving boldly into pop, rock, and heavy metal" and identifies the record's nine songs as "uncompromising...forays into pop" and "stylistic experiments", echoing general sentiment that Purple Rain's music represented Prince at his most popular without forsaking his experimental bent.
"Take Me with U" was originally written for the Apollonia 6 album, but was later pulled for Purple Rain. An unfortunate result of this addition was making crucial cuts to the suite-like "Computer Blue", which circulates amongst collectors in a superior, though unreleased extended version (a portion of this second section of "Computer Blue" can be heard in the film Purple Rain as Prince walks in on the men of The Revolution rehearsing). The song "Darling Nikki" is notable for its lyrical content, which eventually led to the use of Parental Advisory stickers and imprints on album covers by ways of Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center.