For professional musicians, getting the call to perform a tribute to some recently deceased icon during an award show must be a weird moment. On the one hand, it’s a huge honor that says a lot about how much people value you and your cultural impact, but on the other hand, you shouldn’t be excited about it because a person just died. Even calling it bittersweet could be interpreted as an insult to the person you’re honoring, so the only way to do it right is to act like it’s your solemn duty to sing covers of this famous person’s music while old photos of them flash on a screen behind you. Then, once you’ve returned to the privacy of your own home, you can see if your performance has boosted your iTunes sales.
Lady Gaga got the call earlier this year when she performed an extended tribute to David Bowie at the Grammys, and now Billboard has announced that it has asked Madonna to put on some sort of tribute to Prince during its upcoming Billboard Music Awards. Any details about the tribute are “a closely guarded secret,” but hopefully it’ll be a little more exciting than an uninspired medley of his biggest songs. After all, Madonna and Prince were friends, so she should be able to top that.
The ceremony will be hosted by Ludacris and Ciara, and it’s going to air live from Las Vegas on May 22.