Madonna paid tribute to her former collaborator/flame/rival/friend Sunday at the Billboard Music Awards.
The Queen of Pop honored Prince, who died last month at 57, with renditions of "Nothing Compares 2 U" and "Purple Rain" at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, with Stevie Wonder joining her on the latter song. Bedecked in shimmering and lacy Purple Rain-era attire, Madonna injected plenty of emotion into her limited voice; Stevie slayed, as Stevie's wont to do.
Check it out here:
Madonna & Stevie Wonder's Billboard Music... by NBATOPHIGHTLIGHT
The choice of Madonna to pay tribute to Prince on Sunday proved controversial. A Change.org petition titled "Stop Madonna from being the only artist tributing Prince during the Billboard Awards" attracted 8,954 supporters. Some fans felt more artists should have been included, while others felt a black artist should have led the tribute.
Questlove, who introduced Madonna on Sunday, came to her defense. The brass at BBMA even felt compelled to defend the tribute.
“Listen, I think everybody is entitled to their opinion and everyone can have their own opinion," BBMA executive producer Mark Bracoo told the AP ahead of the show. "But I will say that we are honored and could not be more excited for Madonna to be on the show and to pay tribute to someone that was her friend and her peer and her colleague."
Reactions to the performance were mixed. The blog machine churned out hundreds of boilerplate headlines with the word "moving." City Pages feels it was fine, pretty whatever, just OK but watchable. African American culture magazine the Root called the event a "trainwreck." BET threw the following shade:
A little history: Madonna and Prince totally dated in the mid-'80s. He wrote a song, "Love Song," for her 1989 album Like a Prayer. Their relationship grew icy throughout the '90s and '00s, according to People, with Madge calling Prince a "little troll" at one point. There were disagreements about the role of orgasms, one source tells the pop-culture magazine.
The megastars apparently worked shit out, as Madonna popped over to Paisley Park last fall for an intimate private concert. There was whispering; Prince said "cool."
In other tangentially Minnesota-related BBMA news, embattled pop star Kesha earned a standing ovation with her powerful cover of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe." Here's a clip: Update (1:45 p.m., May 23): Madonna responded to critics with two consecutive Instagram posts.