Watch: Madonna and Stevie Wonder Pay Tribute to Prince at Billboard Music Awards

Prince tribute by Madonna and Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder and Madonna perform a tribute to Prince onstage during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, May 22. After initial backlash, the queen of pop earned praise for her moving performance. Kevin Winter/Getty

Sunday's Billboard Music Awards was the first major awards show to air following Prince's death and, in honoring the legend, producers drafted in another musical deity: the queen of pop, Madonna.

Sitting on a purple throne, clad in—what else—a purple suit with white ruffles, Madonna's look was modeled on the late singer's iconic style during his Purple Rain era. She began with a melancholic cover of "Nothing Compares 2 U," the song written by Prince and made famous in 1990 by Irish singer Sinead O'Connor.

Madonna's tribute appeared to have some vocal support from a synthesizer; her cover sounded somewhat processed but live nonetheless. On a stage that saw Britney Spears lip sync her way through a medley of her greatest hits, Madonna, twice the age of some of the night's contemporary artists, proved her enduring musical legacy.

Watch the early part of the performance below:

. @Madonna performing "Nothing Compares 2 U" during #Prince's Tribute at the #BBMAS 💜

— LatinX Now! (@TheMVTO) May 23, 2016

Madonna was then joined onstage by Stevie Wonder for a duet on "Purple Rain," the seminal Prince song that was released in 1984 and defined his career in life and death. Wonder crooned over the beat: "Prince, you know we love you forever more."

Madonna ended the show-closing performance, saying: "Thank you, Prince Rogers Nelson, for all that you have given us."


Watch: Stevie Wonder and @Madonna pay tribute to Prince at the #BBMAs

— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 23, 2016

The well-intended homage was a crowd pleaser—stars such as Rihanna and The Weeknd were spotted swaying along in the audience as purple lighting lit up the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The Material Girl's tribute to Prince was announced earlier in May and received some initial backlash from fans of the Purple One who felt she was unworthy of such a segment. In fact, a petition to thwart the performance was signed by over 8,000 people.

Ultimately, Dick Clark Productions, the Billboard Music Awards' producers, stood by their decision and it looks like they were right to do so; social media reaction to the performance has been warm.

The Guardian, meanwhile, said Madonna's performance "delivered" and The Hollywood Reporter said it was "moving."