Madonna paid tribute to Aretha Franklin at the 2018 MTV VMAs on Aug. 20, but many fans were left confused after the ‘Like A Virgin’ singer mainly talked about herself.
Madonna, 60, tried to pay her R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the late Aretha Franklin at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 20, but it didn’t go so well. The queen of pop was given the honor of paying tribute to the “Queen of Soul,” who passed away at the age of 76 from pancreatic cancer on Aug. 16. While the usual route of doing this is performing one of the late singer’s classics, Madonna instead shared a long story of her struggle from nobody to pop star — and how Aretha kick-started that transition. Madonna revealed that Aretha’s “Natural Woman,” first released in 1968, was the song Madonna performed at one of the first ever auditions she wasn’t rejected from, because the two French record producers were so impressed by the a Capella cover. “None of this would have happened, could have happened, without our lady of soul. She led me to where I am today,” Madonna said. “And I know she influenced so many people in this house night. In this room tonight. And I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us.”
But many fans didn’t think her tribute empowered Aretha herself. “Madonna gave herself a tribute featuring Aretha,” one Twitter user wrote shortly after the tribute. Another wrote, “Madonna’s apparent effort to memorialize Aretha Franklin: “But enough about me, let’s talk about…me.” A third user helpfully summarized Madonna’s speech: “Madonna talking about guitar lessons, Paris baguettes and her ass hanging out while she looked for a stiletto with the image of Aretha Franklin behind her is everything I expected from the
#VMAs.” So, not everyone was so charmed by Madonna’s audition anecdote.
Well, we wish there could’ve been a musical tribute to the “Chain of Fools” singer tonight! And we know which VMAs attendee would’ve been perfect for the job — Ariana Grande, 25. At Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show on Aug. 16, she unexpectedly performed a heartfelt rendition of Aretha’s classic “Natural Woman,” the same day the queen passed away. But we suppose her earlier performance of “God is a woman” at the VMAs will have to do. “Natural Woman” and “God is a woman” may come from different generations, but pack an equal amount of soul!
— Catalina (@CatalinaOnAir) August 21, 2018
MTV: We'd like you to give a tribute to Aretha Franklin
Madonna: Great, so this is how I got my career started…
MTV: No, no, a tribute to Aretha
Madonna: So I said "bitch, I'm Madonna"
MTV: This isn't about you madge
Madonna: Look at my African jewelry #VMAs
— lgreene91 (@lgreene91) August 21, 2018
Aretha was once an attendee of the VMAs herself. In 1986, she was a nominee for best Female Video for “Freeway Of Love,” and then was nominated for best Video from a Film in 1987 for “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” During her lifetime, she accumulated 18 Grammys and was the first female to be seen in the halls of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.