The Madonna-led Prince tribute was among the highlights at Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards, with the singer performing “Nothing Compares 2 U” before Stevie Wonder joined her onstage for “Purple Rain.” It was a moving, elegant and – compared to the Grammys’ David Bowie tribute – simple homage to the late singer, but not everyone was a fan of the performance: The BET Awards wasted no time shading the tribute and promising one more worthy of Prince at their ceremony in June.
Following the award show, Questlove, who helped engineer the Prince tribute and introduced it, defended the performance, saying that any negativity toward the tribute is a step in the natural progression of mourning the singer’s still-shocking death.
“Because of [Prince’s] well-known love for the *poof* vanishing act, a lot of us are left feeling incomplete in the act of saying goodbye,” Questlove wrote in a series of tweets. “For starters it’s hard to accept him no longer being here. & in the upcoming award season for ’17 there will be a gang of tributes [with] the fact that Prince — (an on the surface) face of health & invincible agelessness [succumb] to something so….friggin basic.
“So [with] mourning will come sadness & anger. 1st week I cried. 2nd week I tried to atone for his sins w gettin 8-10 hrs of sleep he didn’t get. Now anger is in the air [with] who (in our eyes) is allowed to mourn & how they are allowed to mourn.—none of us were prepared for his death.”
Questlove also subtly acknowledged the BET Awards’ tweet – “Yeah, we saw that. Don’t worry. We got this,” that awards show reassured Prince fans after Madonna’s tribute – by stating that paying tribute to Prince shouldn’t be a competition. “Every Prince rendition will not be a life-changing orgasmic xperience. Just to SING his work is brave enough,” he wrote.
“EVERYBODY wants and deserves a chance to say goodbye in their own way. But remember: there will be AMAs, SoulTrain, NAACP, mtv, GRAMMYS. “And a gazillion other tributes. But the point is let’s not get ugly w playing the ‘Prince would and wouldn’t approve’ game. & this isn’t *just about* the Madge/Stevie tribute btw.”
Questlove also revealed that Prince’s inner circle had besieged him prior to the Billboard Music Awards, providing a brief look into the mess that Prince left his estate in after he died without leaving a will.
“I’ve been gettin earfuls from in/outside the Purple Circle concerning inclu/exclusions of his estate/work/memorials/tributes who in who not,” Questlove tweeted.
On Monday, Madonna herself took to Instagram to defend the performance. Alongside a picture of the singer clad in purple, Madonna wrote, “Anyone who wants to do a tribute to Prince is welcome to. Whatever your age Gender or skin Color. If you loved him and he inspired you then show it!!!! I love Prince 4 ever.”
Watch the BET Awards mock Madonna’s Prince tribute below:
— #BETAwards (@BETAwards) May 23, 2016