On Sunday May 22, expect Madonna to give a Prince tribute onstage at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards in a special performance. The talented musician passed away on April 21, 2016 and Madonna has seemed profoundly affected by his death, posting a number of photos of them together in the weeks following his passing. The singer is alleged to have dated Prince briefly in 1985 when they collaborated on her track "Love Song." Despite Madonna marrying Sean Penn soon after, there appeared to be little, if any, bad blood between the pair, with Prince going on to play guitar on three tracks on Madonna's 1989 album Like A Prayer ("Like A Prayer," "Keep It Together," and "Act of Contrition" — which he was never officially credited for).
Given the history between the two artists, Madonna seems the ideal choice to perform the tribute piece. I'd wager she's not just doing it for the money or for the buzz (she has enough of both without the help of the Prince name), but because she had a genuine connection with Prince. And, while the music they created was strikingly different in tonality, both artists changed pop music forever by being themselves, no matter what anyone else thought.
Both Madonna and Prince have continued to defy expectations and categorization throughout their careers, so it seems wonderfully appropriate that it will be Madonna performing the tribute. Here's just a few of the pictures she's posted showing their history:
Style twins, soul twins.
It makes sense that Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna hung out together as a threesome. These three artists were all credited at the time for pushing the envelope when it came to music videos, which were a relatively new medium at the time, with Jackson's "Thriller" video making it into the Guinness World Records for the most successful music video.
Not a photo of them together, but check out the text: the emotion seems genuine. There's also this, from a man who was on Madonna's Maverick Records A&R team as a teenager:
The fact that Madonna and Prince were considering touring together makes the fact that it's Madonna delivering the tribute to Prince seem even stronger. They weren't just old-time friends; they had a connection that had lasted until the present day. If you're skeptical that their friendship lasted this long, please checkout this blog article from 2015, which details how Prince performed an intimate concert for Madonna, with approximately half of the 60 person show being made up of Madonna's group. Tissues at the ready:
She was not only in the front row, but had perched on the edge of the stage at Prince’s feet, looking up at him adoringly as he sang. There is a face that people make when they are watching Prince play guitar; it’s a gleeful expression that combines the joy of going down a roller coaster with the realization that you are witnessing a moment that might never be recreated by another being that lives on this beautiful Earth. It turns out Madonna also makes that face when she is watching Prince play. As the band stretched out into another jam and Prince ripped into a soul-levitating guitar solo, her mouth relaxed into an awestruck gape, revealing a shiny gold grill underneath her perfect red lipstick.
So if there was any hint of skepticism or cynicism surrounding the Madonna tribute in your mind, re-listen to the Like A Prayer album, banish it and get looking forward to the show. One thing's for sure: it's going to be emotional.