Madonna’s tribute to Prince has put the Billboard Music Awards in the headlines, but not entirely in a good way. Madonna was a controversial choice to headline the music industry’s tribute to the late music icon, but she ultimately pulled in pals Questlove and Stevie Wonder to help her out. But that still wasn’t enough to impress Prince fans who thought Madonna was the wrong woman for the job.
Ahead of Madonna’s performance at the BBMAs, a Change.org petition was started to protest her headlining homage to the Purple One, but executive producer Mark Bracco defended the decision to keep Madonna on the show’s roster.
Fast forward to showtime, and Questlove introduced Madonna’s musical performance with his own tribute to the late Purple Rain singer. Billboard posted a video of Questlove saying “all of us live in the land of music and [Prince’s] departure from it was an earthquake.” Questlove went on to call for a moment of silence before Madonna came out on a purple velvet throne to sing “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “Purple Rain,” the latter of which was accompanied by Stevie Wonder. But some people preferred the moment of silence more than the music.
Madonna’s performance definitely received mixed views as well as the wrath of some people who thought the whole thing was downright disrespectful.
After Madonna’s Prince tribute, longtime Prince collaborator Sheila E. did not comment on the performance. Instead, she took to social media to post her own tribute to her late friend in the format of a stunning forearm tattoo.
Sheila E. recently defended herself against comments that she wasn’t as relevant as Madonna and therefore wasn’t chosen to pay homage to Prince at the high-profile awards show. Sheila E.’s social media post included the word #RELEVANT in case anyone still had any doubts.
BET was also less than impressed with Madonna’s homage to the Purple One. After Madonna’s tribute, the network posted a teaser for the upcoming BET Awards, which will also feature a tribute to Prince.
“Yeah we saw that. Don’t worry, we got you,” the BET promo teased.
While he was part of Madonna’s Prince tribute, Questlove had a lot to say about all of the hate that Madonna’s performance garnered. In a series of tweets, the Roots frontman pointed out that no one was prepared for the Prince’s death, and he said that everyone should be allowed to mourn and pay tribute to him. Quest also reminded fans that there will be plenty more opportunities to pay tribute to the late music legend.
Naturally there will be folded arms & shade thrown because the Purple Standard is hard boots to fill & a lot of us don't wanna come 2 grips— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) May 23, 2016
Now anger is in the air w who (in our eyes) is allowed to mourn & how they are allowed to mourn.---none of us were prepared for his death— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) May 23, 2016
And EVERYBODY wants and deserves a chance to say goodbye in their own way. But remember: there will be AMAs, SoulTrain, NAACP, mtv, GRAMMYS— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) May 23, 2016
Indeed, while there was a lot of hate, some famous fans were happy with Madonna’s tribute.
Madonna and Prince had a long and complicated history, which definitely contributed to the outcry over the choice for the Material Girl to headline his BBMA tribute. While they collaborated in 1989 for the song “Love Song,” for Madonna’s Like a Prayer album, Rolling Stone revealed the two superstars also briefly dated in the 80s and quoted Madonna as later calling Prince “a little troll” and making fun of how he dressed.
Still, in the years shortly before his death, Madonna and Prince presumably rekindled a cordial friendship. After her performance, Madonna posted that it was an “epic” moment for her to sing a duet with Stevie Wonder, and she added that Prince was with them all in spirit.
Take a look at the video below for more reaction to Madonna’s Prince tribute.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]