Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, the controversial biopic of the late R&B singer, aired on Lifetime Saturday evening.

 Alexandra Shipp plays Aaliyah in Lifetime’s made-for-TV movie, which charts Aaliyah’s career from her 10-year-old debut on Star Search up until two days before her untimely death at 22. The Princess of R&B brings to the small screen the young singing sensation’s illicit relationship with R. Kelly and her rising status as a major player in both R&B and pop – and her potential to make it in the film industry.

‘Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B’ Reviews

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B was produced under a cloud of controversy since Aaliyah’s family was not in support of the project. According to reviews of the TV movie, producers should have listened to her family’s wishes and stayed away from covering the singer. While some reviews noted that Shipp was OK in the role, most were left entirely underwhelmed by Lifetime’s latest biopic.

“It’s hard to defend Princess as anything more than a tabloid take on well-publicized statutory rape, not unlike Lifetime’s Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs, which is especially gross considering the subject matter and the staunch objection of Aaliyah’s family. The movie may be named after her, but its production seems more inspired by another one of its characters, one with a tenuous grasp on the importance of consent.” Joshua Alson, AV Club

“Much like the 22-year-old’s legacy, the Lifetime movie “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B,” is riddled with untapped potential. […] The thing is that pretty much sums up “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” in a nutshell. Despite a handful of great performances, this small-screen drama is a forgettable, overly publicized splash in the pan unworthy of the woman it earnestly but clumsily attempts to honor. What a shame.” – Mekeisha Madden Toby, The Wrap

So at last, this potentially controversial production has found its premiere date on Lifetime, but the results don’t quite live up to the hype. Though her vocals don’t match Aaliyah’s gorgeous cadence (that would have been too much to ask of anyone), Shipp is beautiful and likable in the role but lacks a necessary magnetism. The same is essentially true for everyone in the production. Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B simmers along pleasantly, but never finds its fire.” – Allison Keene, The Hollywood Reporter

Once a network that aired unintentionally funny made-for-TV movies about tragic (but ultimately triumphant!) women and the men who wronged them, it has become a network that now regularly releases weak, pseudo-controversial, and above all, too-awful-for-words biopics about celebrities: the unfathomably bad Liz and Dick, the sleepy and boring Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story, and the utterly shameless The Brittany Murphy Story. The network’s latest mistake is Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, another horrendous mess to throw on top of Lifetime’s growing pile of crap.” – Pilot Viruet, Flavorwire