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Critics, Viewers Trash Madonna’s Prince Tribute at Billboard Music Awards

Madonna and Stevie Wonder’s tribute to Prince on Sunday night at the Billboard Music Awards was greeted with a blistering barrage of backlash and criticism on social media.

Donning a glitzy purple suit and brandishing a cane, Madonna sang “Nothing Compares 2 U” and was later joined by Stevie Wonder for a rendition of the late musician’s mega-hit “Purple Rain.”

The tribute was heavily hyped throughout Sunday night’s BBMA broadcast. But the night-capping performance was apparently underwhelming for plenty of fans and other media outlets, who took to social media to excoriate both Billboard and Madonna for the lackluster show.

Leading the charge was the Black Entertainment Network (BET), which tweeted a preview of its highly anticipated tribute to the late rock legend, set to air live during the 16th annual BET Awards show:

BET’s Prince tribute teaser video featured a not-so-subtle jab at the Billboard Music Awards. “Yeah, We saw that. Don’t worry. We Got You,” the caption read.

Elsewhere, reaction to Madonna’s glowing purple light-filled performance was harsh.

Mic.com music editor Tom Barnes called Madonna’s performance “criminally underwhelming,” while British music producer Dave English tweeted, “Please don’t have Madonna attempt a prince song,” before adding: “Too late.”

Entertainment Tonight co-host Kevin Frazier was one of several critics on social media who suggested that the late musician would not be pleased with Madonna’s representation of him:

British TV star and editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail Piers Morgan also piled on, telling Good Morning Britain on Monday that he felt that, “as a tribute to Prince, doing a poor karaoke version of Sinead O’Connor’s version of a Prince song just wasn’t appropriate.”

Backlash over the Madonna-led Prince tribute had begun building even before the 57-year-old Material Girl took the stage Sunday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

A Change.org petition urging the show’s producers to replace Madonna as the leader of the tribute had gathered 8,937 supporters before the awards show kicked off.

“We cannot let Madonna be the main and only artist tributing Prince during the 2016 Billboard Awards,” the petition said. “He is more than worthy of a better choice as a main performer.”

However, there was some favorable reaction to Madonna’s performance.

The Roots drummer Questlove, who introduced Madonna Sunday night, defended the 57-year-old singer’s performance on Twitter:

Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson

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