When David Bowie passed away in early 2016, kicking off one of music’s bloodiest years, streams of his songs on Spotify increased by 2,700 percent. The Monday after his death, 31 of the top 200 songs on the streaming platform were Bowie tracks.
When Prince died four months later, the notoriously internet-adverse legend didn’t see such a bump; his catalog was largely absent from the streaming universe. It made for a strange day, with some flocking to the web to try and find his songs, and learning that Prince didn’t tend to play by the industry’s standard rules, that he valued his music too much to give it away.
Of course, that’s changed this year, with the artist’s catalog now available on the streaming music platforms (even if Prince himself may not have approved). Now, those who don’t own every album — including those who don’t own any albums, by anyone — can make their own purple playlists and purify themselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka for the day.
But in between the hits and the deep cuts, it may be worth a moment or two to see how others have remembered the music legend, to get the full picture of not just the musician, but the man, and what he meant to both his peers and his musical progeny.
Here are some of our favorite tributes to Prince from the last 12 months.
Every Questlove story about Prince, everywhere: Questlove is a tremendous storyteller, and the Roots drummer has a catalog of Prince anecdotes, which he has shared everywhere from NPR to his autobiography, “Mo’ Meta Blues.” Just type “Questlove” and “Prince” into your favorite search engine and get to reading.
D’Angelo and Princess, “Sometimes It Snows in April,” “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”: Airing less than a week after the singer’s death, this “Tonight Show” performance took the song, written about Prince’s character in the film “Under the Cherry Moon,” and transformed it into a meditation. It’s difficult to watch D’Angelo momentarily lose his composure in the final verse and not tear up; the women of Prince cover band Princess step in ably.
Morris Day, “Over That Rainbow,” streaming/iTunes: They were enemies on screen (twice, remember: Don’t forget “Graffiti Bridge”). They were complicated friends in real life. And while Day won’t be going head-to-head with Dylan in terms of lyrical prowess here, the new single is a sweet, sorrowful remembrance from a singer best known for his braggadocio.
DJ Premier’s Prince Mix, Facebook: Every DJ with their own stage name put together a Prince tribute mix after his passing. It’s hard to go too wrong — they all feature great music, after all — but DJ Premier made sure to do it right. The only downside: He did it live on Facebook, which means the sound is subpar. But watching him cut up the beginning of “Alphabet City” is worth it anyway.
Bruno Mars, Morris Day and the Time, 2017 Grammy Awards: Awards show tributes are incredible tough to pull off, and at least one flat failed in the wake of Prince’s passing (sorry, Madonna). He may not have the ability to let loose in the same way as the Purple One, but Mars has a sense of showmanship that brought an element of fun to the proceedings. And there’s never been a day that hasn’t been made better by the Prince-Day-Jesse Johnson-penned “Jungle Love.”
“Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories,” “Chappelle’s Show”: No, it’s not technically a tribute, and it’s not from the last year, either (it originally aired in 2004). But with Charlie Murphy having passed away last week and these memories of Prince still so fresh, it might be time for a laugh. Best watched while eating pancakes.