Trying To Understand Linda Perry’s “Irrelevant” Logic
Songwriter Linda Perry said Chaka Khan and Prince’s “Revolution” army was not “relevant.” And the internet went wild
On Monday’s episode of The Talk, CBS’s daytime all-woman panel talk show, Linda Perry opened up the discussion regarding the controversy surrounding the selection of Madonna to perform a musical tribute to Prince at the upcoming Billboard Music Awards (airs Sunday, May 22 on ABC at 8 pm CST), and that she is scheduled to be the only performer participating in the tribute. Plenty of critics believe it was the wrong choice. Co-host and comedienne Sheryl Underwood didn’t believe Madonna was a completely bad fit, considering she and Prince were one of the two mightiest superstars to dominate the Eighties, but she felt that others should be a part of the tribute. She namechecked many of Prince’s closest musical associates – Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Morris Day & the Time, the Revolution. Later on, she threw out a few names of women who worked alongside the Purple One during his Purple reign. Some included Shelia E. and Sheena Easton (known for singing the Prince-produced “Sugar Walls” and providing a duet on Prince’s “U Got the Look”).
But Linda Perry, wife of The Talk co-host Sara Gilbert, wasn’t having none of it. In her own words, she said that Chaka Khan and Larry Graham and The Time and all of those other acts were “not relevant.” Yup, she said that. “It’s really the Billboard Music Awards. They think about who right now is hot and popular. They aren’t going to call up Chaka Khan and re-put together The Time. They are not relevant right now.”
A chorus of boos and woos could be heard across the studio audience. Immediately, Sheryl Underwood jumped into the conversation by saying, “I did not say that!.”
And then a clip from the broadcast went viral on social media days later.
Oh, boy. This is what it sounds like when doves cry.
Before exploding into a rant on who Linda Perry is and throwing unnecessary shade, let’s set the record straight. You know her, you probably just don’t know her. She’s a songwriter, and her songs have flooded the albums of some of the biggest pop, rock and R&B artists. She’s the pen behind Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful and P!nk’s “Get the Party Started.” She’s written a whole lot. Unfortunately, nothing in her purse comes as bigger than “Beautiful” – believe it or not.
I see Perry’s point, but she loses it fast. Madonna’s albums have all gone into the top ten on the Billboard 200 (even Rebel Heart), but she doesn’t sell like she used to, and modern pop radio avoids her new stuff. Yes, critics considered Rebel Heart a good album, but the public ignored it. “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” the only major single off the album, barely dented the Billboard Hot 100, settling for a very dismal number 84. “Living for Love” and “Ghosttown” didn’t even register. Yes, her tours do well, but record sales and radio airplay are off by a long shot. Honestly, she hasn’t had a real hit since she worked with Justin Timberlake on “4 Minutes,” so if we’re judging things by chart data, does that Madonna is irrelevant?
And just because an artist is older and doesn’t have the young demo behind them doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant. It was a tacky thing for Perry to say. Because if you seriously think about it, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan aren’t spring chickens either and don’t have number one hits on the charts today, but they still pack out stadiums and sell out shows. I dare she tell Dylan, McCartney and Springsteen that they aren’t relevant because the legion of their fans will beg to differ.
I seriously hope she didn’t say what she said with the thought of mainstream white Americans aren’t going to go giddy for a bunch of black artists. Because in the back of my mind her comments could easily be interpreted that way.
This is how I think it’s gonna go: Billboard, MTV and the American Music Awards will round up current artists to pay tribute to Prince. Expect to see Trey Songz sing “When Doves Cry” at the BET Awards. The Grammys will probably be the only one that will do it right, but uniting all of Prince’s army — from the Revolution to the Time to the New Power Generation — and that will be the perfect way to memorialize him. By calling on the ones that knew him best.