As the lights dimmed and turned the entire arena purple, audio of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" set the tone for the start of the performance.
Next, entering the stage in a lavender suit and ruffled shirt, sitting on an oversized velvet throne (also purple, natch), Madge opened with a touching performance of "Nothing Compares 2 U." Behind her, black-and-white imagery from a graveyard bearing messages like "Hope" and "Brother" played behind her, before transitioning into a slideshow of iconic Prince photos and, by the end, slow-motion footage of doves flying through the air.
"No matter what kind of music we make, no matter how long we've made it, no matter our race, our color, our creed, our sexual orientation, all of us live in the land of music and his departure from it was an earthquake," he said. "We can follow the trails he blazed, we can follow his examples. We can be fierce, we can be uncompromising, we can be experimental, we can also listen to all those songs that he left for us."
Elsewhere in the broadcast, The Weeknd made a point to thank Prince while accepting the first award of the night.
"I want to dedicate this award to the late, great Prince," he said, recalling the time Prince presented him with an award at the American Music Awards in November. "That was, like, the greatest experience of my entire life. ... He will always be an inspiration and helped me push the envelope forever, and for every artist, I hope. Rest in peace, Prince. I love you."