Pop Life is the seventh track on Prince's seventh album Around The World In A Day, the second to be credited to Prince and the Revolution, and three months after the album's release, Pop Life was released as the album's third single (second in North America). In 1993, it was also included as the second track on Prince's first compilation album The Hits 1 (also included as the first disc of The Hits / The B-Sides). In 2006, Pop Life (Fresh Dance Mix) was included as the fourth track on the second disc of the compilation album Ultimate.
Initial tracking took place on 19 February 1984 at Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA, USA (after completing overdubs on Another Lonely Christmas). The recording session lasted until around 6:15 a.m. the following morning, 20 February 1984. Band overdubs were added later the same day. Prince worked on the track further in mid-April 1984, most likely also at Sunset Sound.
Rumors have suggested that the booing crowd sampled in the song is from Prince's infamous opening act for the Rolling Stones, from October 1981, but the samples in fact come from a sound library set by the company Sound Ideas (Delirious, Lady Cab Driver, Something Funky (This House Comes) and Live 4 Love also use samples from this series, and the computer keystroke noises and computer confirmation beep, as well as the vault door sample heard throughout The Gold Experience are also from this series).
During a Love4oneanother.com "? of the week" in 1999, a fan asked what the significance of "the interspersions of (what sounds like) a boxing match", saying they have wondered about this for years, to which Prince replied, "Good ? - Me 2 :)"
On 28 September 1984, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman oversaw the string overdubs (without Prince's supervision), at Sunset Sound (during the same sessions as string overdubs on Our Destiny). Sheila E.'s remix of the track was mixed on 22 and 23 June 1985, most likely also at Sunset Sound.
Pop Life is the earliest track to be released with two different versions on 12" releases (albeit in different territories): The US and Europe received Pop Life (Fresh Dance Mix) (remixed by Sheila E., while the UK, Australia and New Zealand received Pop Life (Extended Version), which was Prince's own original version.