Why Stevie Wonder couldn’t save Madonna’s lackluster Prince tribute

Stevie Wonder_Madonna
Photo Credit: Lester Cohen/BBMA2016/Press Images

Madonna’s heart may have been in the right place. She may have wanted to show the world how much Prince will be missed and how his untimely death touched us all. The moment that it was announced that Madonna would lead a tribute to Prince at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, immediate backlash followed on social media and a Change.org campaign rallied against the idea.

However, the producers of the Billboard Music Awards ignored the naysayers and stood behind Madonna’s idea to perform the tribute. With only minutes remaining in the show, the lights at T-Mobile Arena turned purple and the attendees waved purple lights that were given out shortly before the performance. While sitting on a large purple chair that rotated until she was within view of the crowd, Madonna, dressed in purple and holding a cane, began singing Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” It may have been a sincere attempt, but Madonna’s rendition lacked the emotions and vocal depth to make it a memorable performance. She couldn’t save herself.

So in a final move to rescue the tribute, Madonna called on an artist that is often untouchable. Stevie Wonder can rarely do wrong and stands as a living legend who inspired artists such as Prince and Michael Jackson. But standing next to Madonna while singing “Purple Rain,” even Wonder could not salvage the moment. The hole that Madonna dug for herself was too deep and all who were involved would succumb to its failures.

After the show, BET took the opportunity to jab at Madonna and the Billboard Music Awards by posting a video clip to promote Prince’s upcoming tribute at the BET Awards. The video clip ended with the caption, “Yeah we saw that. Don’t worry. We got you.”

It was a subtle jab that eventually hit harder than a knockout punch. Questlove, who opened with a touching speech before the tribute, went to Twitter in an attempt to calm the emotions of those who hated the performance.

“Every Prince rendition will not be a life changing orgasmic experience. Just to sing his work is brave enough. Again feelings are on high,” he tweeted.

He had an interesting perspective, but the fact that he had to defend the tribute speaks volumes.

Here’s how others responded on social media:

A.R. Shaw
A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Shaw's latest book, Trap History, delves into the history and global dominance of Trap music. Follow his journey on TrapHistory.Com, Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.





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