BET must have known something we didn’t last month — or they just correctly anticipated a disaster. Moments after Madonna left the stage, the network tweeted, “Yeah, we saw that. Don’t worry. We got you.”
What the Billboard Awards gave us was underwhelming and borderline insulting. Madonna choosing to perform a Sinead O’Connor cover of a Prince song was baffling. Not even Stevie Wonder leading a sing-along of “Purple Rain” could save that mess of a performance.
Safe to say, the bar was set pretty low, so BET didn’t have to do much to outdo the Billboard Music Awards. But that didn’t stop the network from surpassing expectations, delivering a flawless evening of entertainment that honored the legendary artist.
Instead of giving the 57-year-old singer a 10-minute block during the 2016 BET Awards, the whole night revolved around him and his legacy. There were also several performances that honored his memory and his music.
So here are the five ways BET put the Billboard Awards to shame with its tribute:
1. More Artists
Prince touched so many people it would be hard (and unwise) to pick just a couple of performers to honor him, so BET didn’t do that. They chose nine artists who really captured his spirit.
2. Quality And Quantity
Instead of trying to pack a bunch of performers into one segment, BET decided to sprinkle tributes throughout the show. This meant that more performers got more time to sing Prince’s music, giving it the justice it deserves.
3. Better Song Selection
There was a much better variety of music for BET’s Prince tributes.
Erykah Badu set the mood with “Sign O’ The Times,” and Bilal? Whoa! He brought Prince’s presence back in an unbelievable way. From there, Stevie had a chance at redemption after his participation in the Billboard sing-along. This time, he tuned-up to do a duet of “Take Me With U” with Tori Kelly. Jennifer Hudson then rounded out their set. Both Sheila E. and Janelle Monáe also belted out some high-energy medleys.
Just like Billboard’s Prince tribute, “Nothing Compares To You” and “Purple Rain” were performed during the evening. The difference between the two awards shows is the crooners at the BET Awards really got in touch with their emotions to bring out soulful performances of those beloved songs.
Jennifer had the honor of singing Prince’s most iconic hit, “Purple Rain.” She emerged on stage in a tailored white mini-trench coat, and she left her heart and soul on that stage. It was a powerful performance that brought out a lot of emotions.
Maxwell needed no introduction as he came out to perform his new song, “Lake By The Ocean,” before slipping into Prince’s version of “Nothing Compares To You” (not Sinead’s version, FYI). Maxwell also reminded the audience just how long the singer has been gone during his rendition, where he tweaked some of the lyrics to express how much Prince is missed.
Janelle was easily the crown jewel of the Prince tribute, but we already knew that when it was announced she would be a part of the tribute. Her renditions of his songs were on-point, and her costumes were pitch perfect, but she did it all in her own style. He may be The Purple One, but she is the Electric Lady in White. She even tapped into her inner Prince to perform his music in a likeness of his own.
Janelle completely committed to bringing Prince’s spirit to the event. She made sure her tribute perfectly mirrored his videos and performances. When she turned around and showed her behind in those cut-out pants, the crowd went nuts. Now that’s what we call dedication!
Then Sheila E. capped off the night, but started the party with her medley that featured “U Got The Look,” “America,” and “The Glamorous Life.” The set, which also included moves from the singer’s ex-wife, Mayte Garcia, was so similar Prince and was a great way to remember his exuberance on the stage. He was an incredible showman, and Sheila E.’s set captured that perfectly.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty