I’ve been taking the last few days to really digest that Prince has ascended. Still don’t quite believe it. After reading eulogies from famous and non-famous folks alike, I’ve come to this conclusion: I am not a Prince fan. Not a real one. Either that, or I am a mere Prince fan in a world of his devotees and lovers. I haven’t studied his discography. I don’t know his deepest of deep album cuts. And I never made it to one of his concerts. So I respectfully decline to offer written tribute because I’d never be able to do that sexy mother
shutyomouth justice. The beautiful ones are carrying that torch with honor.
And it truly is an honor to raise pen or voice to acknowledge what this musical genius has meant to our lives. Memorials for Prince are springing up all over the internet. Music awards season doesn’t hit until November-January, but I’m already narrowing my eye at the Prince tributes that must happen. Who do you know would turn down an opportunity to laud The Purple One onstage? Nobody. That worries me, because some artists are convinced they’re heir to the purple throne when they’re barely lavender-adjacent.
Producers like to include artists who are popular or provide interesting “genre mashups” on tributes. Never mind who can and can’t sing live. Just this past February, Lionel Richie had to show out at his own GRAMMY Awards tribute because some genius decided Luke Bryan, Demi Lovato, Tyrese Gibson, John Legend, and Meghan Trainor (SERIOUSLY, MEGHAN TRAINOR?!) were the right ones for the job.
A Prince tribute deserves the royal treatment.
But I’m afraid all we’ll get is peasantry. I don’t want to throw anything but (clean) panties at my TV screen during his tribute. I want to shed happy tears, not sharpen a machete. I don’t want a musical show worthy of Prince’s shade. Prince threw shade masterfully, because he knew that you knew that he was actually that damn good. And because virtually no else is that good, I already know the awards will fcuk it up. So does his royal Purpleness.
BUT JUST IN CASE. I’m here to help. I’ve come up with an incomplete list of people who absolutely, under no circumstances, should not ever, never, never, never be allowed to take the stage during a Prince tribute.
30. Ciara. Yes, I know her 2006 jam “Promise” is a Prince derivative. But can she nail the vocals? Nah. Nyet. Nein.
29. Miley Cyrus. The “Wrecking Ball” singer would wreck The Purple One’s effortlessly sexy music trying too hard to be sexy.
23. Justin Bieber. Biebs is on top of the Billboard charts but needs to sit down for this one.
20. Tyrese. Tyrese gets tapped for every Black singer’s tribute, but the crooner’s range can’t reach a falsetto.
19. Justin Timberlake. Maybe JT could channel the spirit of Purple…but he can’t fit into those heels.
14. Lloyd/Jeremih/August Alsina. These are essentially all the same half-singing disgraces to R&B. Sit.
11. Taylor Swift. No. NO. NO. NO. NO.
7. The Dream. Terius Nash might owe much of his sound to Prince Rogers Nelson, but The Dream would be a nightmare on that tribute.
4. Robin Thicke. He could never. He’s also still busy paying back Marvin Gaye’s estate for jacking them.
2. Trey Songz. This yodeling MF who thinks he invented sex when Prince is his musical pappy?
1. Chris Brown. Breezy is a tattooed carbon copy of Michael Jackson, Prince’s rival, and therefore should not be allowed anywhere near a Prince tribute.
Who is allowed to give tribute to Prince, then?
I wouldn’t, however, mind a tribute with Janelle Monáe, Miguel, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Chaka Khan, Audra Day, Adele, Zayn Malik, D’Angelo, Jazmine Sullivan, and Frank Ocean. Oh, and just off the strength of this performance, they need to get Cynthia Erivo from the current Broadway run of The Color Purple.
Who is your all-star Prince tribute line up? And who do you think needs to be far, far away from the stage?