May 30, 2006

"It just tells you how selfish he is. He comes on, not a word - 'I'm not gonna sing with anybody else, I'm not gonna say goodbye.'..."

"Thank you for your generosity, Prince." Says Simon Cowell. Because Prince appeared on the "American Idol" finale, but as Ryan Seacrest was coming over to encounter him, he turned his back and walked off, kind of flounced off -- he did this shoulder-y thing -- in a way that seemed to say I don't want your cooties. I want your publicity, but not your cooties.

So Cowell had to hit back. Ow!

Oh, it's probably a strategic move, the first in a series of moves that will end with an official Prince night next season.


Brendan said...

Faded stars copping an attitude. Priceless.

Harkonnendog said...

It would have felt akward and stupid had Prince stood there to be interviewed. From the way he entered to the way he walked off- it was all a part of the performance.

Ann Althouse said...

I think all the other guest stars sang with one of the idols. Mary J. Blige did.

Prince is not a faded star. He's huge. He had an extremely successful concert tour last year and is quite adulated.

Wickedpinto said...

Prince is a Major Star, but he is not a major record seller the way he was.

Most of the other stars are in the background, but prince has been able to maintain his image throughout all of his silliness. I agree with Simon that prince was selfish, but I would rather have Prince come out and sing a song and walk off, than watch Blige bigfoot elliot again.

I was so made, watching her do that.

Brendan said...

Prince is not a faded star. He's huge. He had an extremely successful concert tour last year and is quite adulated.

It seems your definition of "star" is more elastic than mine. Lots of past-their-prime stars continue to tour and pull in the diehards. Lord knows Sinatra, Bobby Sherman, Tom Jones, and David Cassidy did. Hell, AI hosted nothing but faded stars this year (Manilow, Queen, etc.) How many Top 50 Billboard hits has Prince amassed in say the last 10 years? How many of his fans are under 25? He looks great for his age, but he's not a contemporary pop star. Just sit back and enjoy the nostalgia.

Ann Althouse said...

There's also the issue of Prince being extremely short. He would probably had looked odd standing next to Ryan. And really, why should Prince have to deal with Ryan? But then, really, he just doesn't belong on the show.

Sanjay said...

Now, all due props to Prince. But his star _has_ faded somewhat. So he can still sell records. But there was a time you'd have described Prince as a real innovator and I don't think you'd do that now: the Prince "too clever for you" think is pretty much gone. If it weren't Cowell wouldn't do what he did there: it'd have been clever genius Prince doing what clever geniuses do. But as he stands it looks more like, rock star acting like a dick. So Cowell can blow the whistle.

Not that Idol might not whore out to him another season: but it lowers my opinion of Prince some that he came on the show, too, y'know. That's hard to justify (I think Stevie Wonder is as musically talented as Prince, and I don't think less of him for doing Idol) and I think it comes from the sense of Prince, convention-defying musician, sucking up to a quest to find a plug-in formulaic singer. I hear that and think, man, the Prince that Miles Davis admired, that guy is dead.

As for Prince being short, that just underlines it -- the old Prince wouldn't have given a rat's ass.

knoxgirl said...

That's how I expect Prince to act! If he stood up there and shmoozed, I'd be disappointed. I agree that it's part of his performance/personna.

And how many records he sells now is immaterial. Prince is an *icon,* like Sinatra or Madonna. He transcends sales or radio play.

me love prince

Irene Done said...

I think we have to admit that Prince is still huge because 1) his appearance was so electrifying it was the first thing everyone wanted to talk about the next day and 2) AI agreed to his terms, selfish and flouncy as they may be.

me love prince too

Brendan said...

He's like Farrah Fawcett: still famous, but not "huge." Not anymore.

Wickedpinto said...

MJ Obligation still bigfooted Elliot, MJ Oblige me, was begging for a superstardom, and she proved it by insulting an up and comer.

MJ Oblige was worse than prince.

Pastor_Jeff said...

I think knoxgirl was right on - I wouldn't have expected anything less of Prince.

And I know Simon makes the show, but really -- sometimes pissy and jealous just doesn't work. This is one of those times.

"A fly may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one but is an insect, and the other is a horse still." - Johnson

MadisonMan said...

The first two things I thought when he left right away: He doesn't want to talk to Ryan (who would?), and he doesn't want to stand next to Ryan (he's short). It really did seem like part of the performance to me as well.

Simon comes off for the worse here. At least for the older demographic -- No idea how it plays to youth.

chuck b. said...

I loved his website... lots of bloggy goodness (i.e., long, discursive essays about love, sex, god, etc straight from the brain of Prince). Not so much anymore (besides a fabulous picture of him w/ two chickees). Now that page just goes straight to the boring npg website.

I saw Prince once, in my junior year of high school on the Purple Rain tour. I wore eyeliner. Did I really just say that in public? Not really. I'm basically anonymous. Phew!

Is Prince still a Jehovah's Witness? He did that a while ago. That must be kind of interesting. A little bit interesting. Slightly interesting. It must contain a tiny bit of interest. A mote of interest floating across my mental field. Perhaps.

Harkonnendog said...

"A mote of interest floating across my mental field. Perhaps."

He's great at basketball, according to Eddie Murphy's brother. Another mote? Perhaps?

David Boyd said...

Knoxgirl is right. Prince wouldn't be Prince if he waited around for some corny chit-chat with Seacrest.

Simon feeling compelled to gripe about it proves who's hipper regardless of who may have had more recent success.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Brendan said...

a lot of things that don't quite charaterize Prince in the right light. Sure he is not as big as he was in his prime years, but he continues to put out new music.

To compare him to Farah Fawcett is ridiculous, as she was never, even in her prime, considered good at what she did (being an "actress").

Further, we know nothing of his album sales at all, because for a long time he brought much of that in house, striking distribution deals with various companies, thus assuring that his take on each album would exceed the dollar or less the artists often get.

Then again, artists make the bulk of their money from touring, not radio rotations or album sales.

I think an artist is only faded if he fails to do new work, AND nobody pays to hear or see that work. Prince does not fit that bill.

Brendan, it's better to just say, "I don't like Prince" and be done with it.

And yes, it was snooty for him to walk off, and anything less would have been embarrassing. Prince is supposed to have attitude.

Brendan said...

Finn, I liked Prince a lot ... when I was in tenth grade ... 23 years ago. Rockers like Prince don't get better or more creative with age. Happens to the best of us. He's not a fossil, but it's silly to pretend that he's still relevant.

Pastor_Jeff said...

You can debate how important Prince still is, but I just watched the video again. Dang! He is teh cool.

Simon's comment? "It just tells how small he is."

Troy said...

Besides -- I would've been disappointed if Prince had stopped to schmooze. It would be so un-Prince-like.

I would've been crushed if Bono had pranced out to help Mary J. Blige (whom I just don't get).

btw -- Prince killed at the Rock & Roll Hall-of-Fame concert. There's a lot of Jimi in that small frame.

Drew W said...

Great. I’ve been wanting to weigh in on American Idol -- especially since I don’t watch it.

But please don’t think that I’m dismissing that which I know not, because a few years back, I was shown a video documentary introducing Americans to its British template, Pop Idol, complete with the snarky ripostes for inept singers; treacly, manipulative back-stories; and the karaoke-writ-large music itself. It was at a meeting with some BMG Records reps, who were quite pleased that the winner of the as-yet-unaired American version would be awarded an album to be released on a BMG label.

Over the years, I’ve known real, honest-to-God musicians, people who work their butts off crafting their songs, and end up playing them in crappy little bars to audiences made up mostly of their friends. And many of these people are actually quite brilliant, but will probably never reach a larger audience. So it rankles when the whole country is transfixed by this silly contest, the winner of which gets to release a series of perfectly forgettable, overproduced pop albums of inevitable mediocrity. (The only exception to this rule is the smart singer/songwriter Bob Guiney, but he was on The Bachelor.)

So good for Cyndi Lauper when she said American Idol was “trash” in her NY Times Magazine interview. It isn’t said often enough. (My ex-wife and I have both been working in and around the music business for about 25 years, and our daughter feels cheated that both of her parents can’t stomach a show watched by all her classmates. As a major compromise, we let her keep a Kelly Clarkson album she’d been given.) I imagine that most people in the music industry -- who are not part of the American Idol revenue stream, that is -- feel the same way I do about the show.

I’m amused that Prince would have to suffer a hokey act like Simon Cowell -- whose credibility as a judge of musical talent comes from his career as an executive producer on albums by such crucial artists as Westlife, 5ive and Sonia, not to mention a couple of Wrestlemania compilations. Cowell is an over-promoted caricature and Prince is an eccentric, but genuine, musical artist of serious stature (despite his vertical challenges). Over the better part of 30 years, he’s amassed a staggeringly creative body of work, filled with gorgeous melodies and killer grooves. Prince has been a victim of his own excessiveness and nuttiness, from throwing in too many extended outtakes in kitchen-sink releases to changing his name to a glyph, then to a phrase and then back to his name again. But who could complain about an entertaining bizarro who may not be charting any more, but who still knows how to write a devastatingly beautiful song and is a monster guitar player to boot?

Why Prince deigned to appear on that show may be another little enigma to toss on top of the others, but it probably has something to do with an attempt to boost his career. After all, somebody convinced Bob Dylan that a commercial for Victoria’s Secret would be a good idea, so this sort of misstep is not unheard of. Prince should’ve stayed away. But . . . Simon Cowell giving Prince attitude? Hmmm, what’s a good analogy? Richard Pryor being dissed by Carrot Top? Something along those lines, I think, only worse.

Sorry for the long post, but to make a long post longer, I’d always heard that the similar Nashville Star had a far higher level of talent, but I wouldn’t watch that one either. I did stumble on a copy of the debut album from the singer/songwriter and Nashville Star alumna Miranda Lambert, and she’s actually pretty good.

reader_iam said...

Fourth attempt at a comment, this one brief:

This comment thread illustrates not everything, but a tremendous chunk, of what's wrong with "Idol" culture, by my lights.

No, I don't like what Prince did. (Brings to mind a great story about Miles Davis, a great artist who could also be a tremendous asshole.)

But they don't pose the true offense to the truly talented.

That list would start with those who conflate "star" with "artist" or "record sales" as the benchmark of "art."

Or, for that matter, adulation or the quality of "latest, greatest" having anything truly significant to do with creativity and art, in any media, in and of itself. To be clear, the "in and of itself" refers to the adulation. Though not just that.

And the short-sightedness? Maybe even shallowness?

That remains to be seen, I suppose, in the long run. But it's been pretty clear in the short- to mid-run for a long time now.

Craig Ranapia said...

Cowell getting Miss Manners on anyone's arse is right up there with parenting advice from Britney Spears.

But am I the only person who thinks this is another manufactured McScandal? Prince isn't a schmoozer and never has been - and I've heard no suggestion that he did anything other than what he and the show's producers agreed on. You may think it's jerky; but this seems more about Simon's ego and Simon's sense of entitlement rather than any unprofessional or disrespectful conduct on Prince's part.

Brent said...


What is it with you Wisconsin and Minnesota people and Prince? Is it possible to find ANYONE in your region that falls short of Prince-worship?

I agree he's uber-talented, but if that's the performer role-model for your neck of the woods - PLEASE!

Telecomedian said...

I'm pretty shocked by the comments of folks who think Prince is not the star he used to be. He does not get the radio airplay he used to, but, given the nationwide dirge that is terrestrial radio, that's not a bad thing. He doesn't need it. He made his star when record sales, FM and MTV were the sure-fire keys to success. He's evolved, and he doesn't need traditional means to get his music out. Prince was one of the first, along with Peter Gabriel, to push music to the Web, figuring that to be the next frontier.

Prince doesn't fit a standard radio format, and in that demographics-obsessed world, he's useless. His music is not really rock, it's not really hip hop and it's not really soul. He's too black to play on Rock stations, and too white to play on Urban stations - as a result, few CHR, AOR, or R&B stations really play his music. Occasionally a risk-taking Top-40 station will play a new Pricne track, but they quickly revert back to Sheryl Crow and Matchbox 20. Of course, they'll break him out when they do a "1980s at 8" or "Flashback Cafe" kind of show. Listen to "Let's Get Crazy" or "When Doves Cry" and compare it too all the other hits of that time. Prince was a decade ahead of everybody else.

I haven't bought a Prince album since Purple Rain when I was 12 years old, but between XM, streaming radio stations (I love, concert tours and iPods, I've heard plenty of Prince's new albums.

Take a step away from bad radio stations, go to the left of the dial (notice the other Minnesota shout-out there), or just get XM or Sirius. It's a better musical world.

Dawn said...

Tele, I moved to Minnesota 10 years ago, which still doesn't qualify me as a Minnesotan (you have to be born here to be that I've figured out), and I'd take Husker Du or the 'Mats over Prince anyday.

But that 1999 album. Damn!

StrangerInTheseParts said...

2 thoughts:

1) Prince flouncing off after his performance is EXACTLY the same thing as James Brown collapsing to the floor mid-song and a man coming out and draping a cape on him. It is a rhetorical flourish, a signature stage move. (It's even a little like Madonna on a cross. It's almost blase in it's mechanical repitition.)

2) Interesting tidbit: for years Prince had a clause in his rider that forbids anyone making eye contact with him backstage except a short list of explicity named people.

Dawn said...

Speaking of not 'gazing upon the star' - when Prince and his former wife would arrive at the clinic I used to work at, the entire back portion of the practice would be closed off, noone could wander back there - his Royal Purpleness and the missus would arrive through a back door and leave the same way after her visit. Of course, that didn't stop a few of the employees from checking them out.

Their verdict? "He was really short, and she was even shorter".

My 6 degrees Kevin Bacon moment, lived vicariously through former coworkers!

ak21 said...

"He was really short, and she was even shorter".

Living in MN, you always hear Legends of Prince. Mostly that he's a very small oddball. But he's our small oddball!

I've never personally seen him, but I did see his suit from Purple Rain at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas. I think even at my high school weight, when I was a size 3 petite, I couldn't have gotten an entire thigh into that outfit. He must be one tiny dude.

Comrade X said...

Prince and Simon should settle it on the basketball court.

Baby Gap shirts vs. blouses

Ann Althouse said...

StrangerInTheseParts: "Prince flouncing off after his performance is EXACTLY the same thing as James Brown collapsing to the floor mid-song and a man coming out and draping a cape on him. It is a rhetorical flourish, a signature stage move."

I agree, and, pointing back to my original post, also think Simon's statement is a stage move, and it's all a publicity dance. There will be more stages, and we'll notice them. Prince will have a week to himself on the show next season, I'm betting.

SteveR said...

This is not the most popular show in America because of the talent or music. These people are smart and the idea that this is a set up, seems almost a certainty.

No doubt the appearance came off exactly as planned. No anticipation, total surprise, exceeded expectations, over quick, residual drama. Perfect.

Wickedpinto said...

I know I'm gonna catch crap for this.

Prince, while the songs I like of his, that were performed by him, are . . . large, but not that large, the truth is that this midget stripper was the Niel Diamond (ehh, yeah, he was) of the 80's. He had some songs he himself did well, but he was behind songs that virtually everyone else did.

Prince, wrote for as many people, if not more, than he wrote for himself. AND, he is a midget stripper, who is just plane COOL!!! unlike Niel Diamond.