Prince,  R&B

Prince does, um, American Idol

Do you really think I’d let this one slide by without a comment? Yeah, the rumors from a few weeks ago proved true after all. Prince showed up on the season finale of American Idol. He came out unannounced to sing “Lolita” and “Satisfied” with his twin backup singers. Unlike the other special guests of the evening, he wasn’t paired up with one of the Idols (thankfully).

Oh yes, my friends, what an absolutely star studded lineup of special guests: Dionne Warwick! Al Jarreau! Toni Braxton! Mary J. Blige! (somebody shut her up please!) David Hasselhoff weeping in the audience!

I had actually walked away after I realized this was a 2 hr episode, and went straight to for my yearly ritual of finding out who won before the West Coast announcement. It was there I saw the potentially frightening news that Prince performed (oh no!!) by himself (phewww). So back to the TV I went. So is this a sellout? A savvy marketing move? Probably both. It should move some ‘3121‘ units, and hopefully produce some tour dates (finally).

So what are your thoughts (Prince fans and non-Prince fans alike)?



  • justavibe

    I didn’t even know it was comin’ on..until I was just flippin’ through the channels and passed by it..I said, “Hey..that looked like Prince”, so I turned it back and sure ’nuff was him! I caught the performance of “Satisfied”. It was okay, just might spark some more sales for “3121”…was still kinda awkward seein’ him there, but it was cool.

  • Charlie

    Sellout, Marketing genius….who cares. After all these years, he still looks good, still has the moves, and still has the HOT bitches. Truly, the greatest performer I’ve ever been blessed to see.

  • Kumquat

    I’ve been a Prince fan for ages, however he lost me there in the 90s along with another significant portion of his fan base. I always remained a fan – with each release hoping and hoping for a return to form. Emancipation should have been condensed into a single album and the other three CD release, Crystal Ball, had about 4 tracks I would ever want to hear again. I’m not sure what happens – does a superstar get surrounded by people that just keep telling them that they have the Midas touch? Thankfully, the last two albums show some signs of his former greatness.

    Now if anyone should be able to handle a little constructive criticism it ought to be Prince. The guy is so incredibly talented – it shouldn’t be a life threatening revelation for him to hear now and then that he is merely human. The Fillmore concert you posted here a short while ago shows how amazing Prince can be live – particularly when he is at ease. What a show that was – thank you for the post!

    My point. Yes – sorry. Well the Fillmore show demonstrated that Prince is absolutely spectacular when he gets down to business and lets the funk/jazz/soul/Hendrix/Little Richard/Sly Stone/Bootsy Collins/George Clinton etc. etc. and his own creative genius just flow out. In other words , he can really shine when he is really being himself – which is almost never the case when he is on TV. Virtually everytime I’ve seen him on TV (except his performance at the Grammy awards in the early-mid 80s) he has appeared nervous and awkward – not totally himself.

    When he exchanges his musician attire for that of sage things start to fall apart. It begins to smell of self-promotion (Slave, O+> , American Idol) because he doesn’t carry it off nearly as well AND the music almost always suffers terribly. I love the thought of Prince promoting young talent (and he certainly has a history for it) rather than himself. Personally, I missed the performance because I can’t bear to listen to disney-fied, pre-packaged muzak. That sort of thing is light years below the Fillmore performance which is where young and truly talented musicians should be looking for guidance and inspiration. There are many sides to the man Prince, many which very few people every get to see I’m sure. There is a stunningly talented singer-songwriter which, because of some of his antics and insecurities, is sometimes hidden from many who would otherwise be able to appreciate his remarkable gifts. He has some vaulable and interesting things to say about life but when he turns to becoming myth-maker and metaphysician I think he gets in over his head. There is also the business man who faces the challenges of self-promotion along with his own securities and insecurities.

    Should I allow my disdain for American Idol taint my reception of Prince’s performance or his recent moderate return to form? Well, I suppose it depends upon which Prince showed up. If it was the same Prince I love and heard playing at the Fillmore, then there would seem to be a lack of concord between this Prince and the whole American Idol ‘ethos.’ If it was self-promotion over the promotion of young talent – then I wonder, did he come in and show them how it was done, or did he appear out of place – trying too hard to secure some sort of adulation for the mystery and out-there-ness of the Artist we can once again call Prince. I think my hope that he would forget about being a ‘Star’ and just play – play for the love of it – play as one great musican amongst others – play with a sense that he has gifts but also shares the same flesh and blood as the rest of us – I think this hope might never see itself fulfilled. I wish he would mature as a Herbie Hancock or a Quincy Jones rather than a Little Richard or Bootsy Collins. I can still hope.

  • Leeman

    It was a cool surprise to see him on AI last night, and especially to see him do “Lolita”, but “Satisfied” (?), was a waste of his time while on national TV before millions of viewers, but then again, he’s never been great about playing the “right song” when he has everyone’s attention.

    I’m still completely mystified as to why “3121” isn’t available for download via i-Tunes, the #1 digital download destination on the net, and a place where in an era where brick and mortar record retailers are sucking hind’d think Universal and NPG/Prince would be smarter than this. Must be a political or personal thing with Prince….nobody would be that stupid….(or stubborn).

  • B2

    I was really disappointed to learn that Prince had performed on AI. After preaching the gospel of “real music performed by real musicians” throughout the Musicology tour, I felt that he completely contradicted himself by showing up on a karaoke talent show.

    Sure, sure… they’ve got a band back behind the curtain. But it’s not HIS band. And I sure didn’t see him playing anything!

    Also, after his whole “slave” issue with Warner, how can he support these Idol “masters”? Surely he is aware of the ridiculous contracts these AI winners have to sign. They are virtually owned by Simon and Co.

    All that aside, I thought his performance was mediocre at best. Well, for him anyway. He has set the bar so high on several high profile TV appearances (SNL, Brit Awards, RRHOF, Grammy’s ’04) that this one just pales in comparison. I don’t watch AI, but from what I’ve heard, he was the highlight. I guess topping Burt Baccarach lets you put another notch on your microphone stand. (?)

    I’m the marketing director for the company that employs me, so I do appreciate the exposure he garnered from this appearance… and the numbers don’t lie ~ sales have soared since Wednesday night. However, I think if he went on tour and promoted his album like “real” bands do, he would achieve the same sales figures and keep his integrity intact.

  • Jeff S

    Yeah, I’m glad after all the “yes he will, no he won’t perform on AI” for weeks..that he finally did. I’m just hoping this will push him back into mainstream music which he deserves. I’m so tired of hearing all the same stuff on radio; I just can’t imagine any age demographic not liking his music. There were approximately 40 million viewers when Prince perfomed. He was by far the best of the “star parade” that was on the show that night.

  • Christine

    Sellout? No way! I’m glad he took this opportunity to find a mainstream audience instead of just relying on us, his old die-hard fanbase. I have loved him from the start (even though I grew up during his terrible 90’s era), thanks to my mom’s interest in Purple Rain and I loved his crazyness onstage and endearing shyness offstage. His performance on AI was great overall, although “Satisfied” was to me a bit of an odd choice at first, not up tempo enough (as, say, Black Sweat) but if you watch the vid on youtube again it does go with his overall performance: Hot, but not too risque [since he became a JV of course]. Plus, it’s AMERICAN IDOL, for Chrissake, what do you think they’d want? Definitely not anything too sexy or interesting, after all Taylor Hicks DID win (gag), but he OWNED the stage more than any of the other performances of the night, and the sexy he brings was all there in the glances, pitch-perfect notes, and killer moves (in 3-inch stilettos!). I was pissed when Ryan said that “that’s all the guest stars for the night” and I had watched 2+ hours of lukewarm singers (sometimes rather tonally-challenged) for nothing when he appeared on stage and not only saved my crappy evening but also renewed my faith in his ability to make a comeback…hopefully Planet Earth will BE that comeback!

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