By: Sonika Gupta
A few weeks ago, I was laying in my bed doing what all 20-somethings do when they are laying in their bed at night — checking every single form of social media known to man. Making sure not to go off “schedule”, I checked Facebook first. It wasn’t a shock to see everyone paying their respect to Prince by posting statuses, he was a legend after all. I was scrolling through my newsfeed and almost went right past a picture. This was a picture of Michael Jackson in heaven, happily welcoming Prince through heaven’s gates. I paused for a minute or two — slowly proceeding to check Instagram and Tumblr, which were both loaded with similar pictures. At this point, I was sitting up in my bed, extremely confused. I just kept thinking about how odd it all was. Does nobody know that these two were rivals? Does nobody know about the feud?
The late and great Amy Winehouse once said, “You know, how you either grow up in a Michael Jackson house or a Prince house? For me it was Michael Jackson. I could never decide whether I wanted to be Michael Jackson or marry him.” (Hodgkinson, 2004) I myself was and will always be loyal to MJ, I respect Prince, and I know that he too impacted the music and fashion industry greatly. I did listen to Prince’s music but, in my opinion, nothing he did compared to Michael. It’s strange for me to say that, I wasn’t even alive when their careers were at an all-time high. I can only imagine how many people subconsciously or purposely chose their favourite.
Michael and Prince were both born in 1958, both lived very private lifestyles and both had a very competitive nature. Prince is known for being the Prince of Funk however both produced music with the same kind of funky disco sound, especially in the 80s. Although, Prince did have a Jimi Hendrix thing going on in a lot of his music, especially when creating the Purple Rain album. In some ways, these two were very alike and being so competitive, jealousy was most likely the cause of the feuding.
It all started back in 1983, the “Godfather of Soul”, James Brown, was having one of his shows. Michael was in the audience so Brown called him up onto stage. He sang a little and then did his famous moonwalk across the stage, making fans go crazy. Michael then went to hug Brown while also whispering something into his ear. Brown then called Prince up onto the stage, who was also in the audience. Prince brought plenty of sass up there with him. Would you expect anything less? He played the guitar and sang a bit but it’s clear that he wasn’t pleased with being put on the spot. (Boller, 2016)
There’s also the infamous game of ping-pong that made things insanely tense. Sometime in the 80s, both musicians were busy working in an LA studio when they decided to play some ping-pong together. There were some nasty words being thrown around. Prince threatened Michael, saying, “You want me to slam it?” Ultimately, MJ did end up winning the game but things ended on bad terms. (Boller, 2016)
In 1985, a number of different artists came together for the recording of Jackson’s We Are the World, for Africa. Prince chose not to be a part of it which made him look arrogant and selfish to many. (Callahan, 2016)
Lastly, two years later, one of most well-known MJ songs was released, BAD. The song had everyone asking themselves, “Who’s bad?”. Well, everyone except for one person – Prince. Michael had originally asked Prince if he wanted to do the song as a duet. Prince declined saying, “To put it better, the first line of that song is “Your butt is mine””. He asked Michael who would be singing the line to whom adding, “’Cause you sure ain’t saying that to me.” (Luling, 2016) Thus, the world missed out on what could have been one of the coolest collaborations to date.
It was an interesting rivalry which was sadly never smoothed over, not even with a makeup duet. Hopefully, these two extremely talented individuals will be able to come to terms up there in heaven. They had one more thing in common, they were both “gone too soon”.
Boller, Jay. “Hee Hee: Prince’s Failures Apparently Delighted Michael Jackson.” City Pages. City Pages, 2 Feb. 2016. Web. 20 May 2016. <http://www.citypages.com%2Fmusic%2Fhee-hee-princes-failures-apparently-delighted-michael-jackson-8009180>.
Callahan, Maureen. “Prince Didn’t Want to Be on ‘We Are the World’ Because It Was Awful.” New York Post. New York Post, 24 Apr. 2016. Web. 1 May 2016. <http://nypost.com/2016/04/24/prince-was-a-visionary-genius-who-sang-to-the-freak-in-all-of-us/>.
Hodgkinson, Will. “Home Entertainment: Amy Winehouse.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 27 Feb. 2004. Web. 1 May 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/music/2004/feb/27/amywinehouse>.
Luling, Tod Van. “5 Stories You Didn’t Know About Prince.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 21 Apr. 2016. Web. 1 May 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/prince-stories_us_57190feee4b0d0042da87fbe>.