Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin passed away on 16 August, aged 76, after suffering from pancreatic cancer. Madonna gave an odd, meandering tribute to Aretha Franklin at the MTV VMAs on Monday Night. The pop star’s remarks were widely criticized on social media for focusing too much on herself, rather than the late Franklin. Many took to Twitter to criticise Madonna on Monday night for her words about Franklin.
While presenting the artist of the year award, Madonna told the story of how “Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life”, when she performed the Franklin standard (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at an audition that helped kickstart her career. “None of this could have happened without our lady of soul,” said Madonna. “She led me to where I am today and I know she influenced so many people in this house tonight. Long live the queen.”
The speech was seen by many people as inappropriate, and overly focused on Madonna herself. Actor and singer Cynthia Erivo wrote on Twitter: “Madonna makes the life and works of Aretha Franklin (Queen of soul), about herself and her rise to fame. Heart was nowhere to be found, ego and privilege reigned supreme.” Radio host Charlemagne Tha God wrote: “I thought Madonna was supposed to be paying homage to Aretha but I all heard was her paying homage to herself.”
Madonna attempted to clarify her peculiar tribute to Aretha Franklin at the MTV Video Music Awards Monday.
On Instagram, Madonna wrote, “I was asked to present video of the year by MTV! And then they asked me to share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin! I shared a part of my journey and thanked Aretha for inspiring me along the way. I did not intend to do a tribute to her! That would be impossible in 2 minutes with all the noise and tinsel of an award show. I could never do her justice in this context or environment. Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge. I love Aretha!”
Madonna gave the widely criticised speech while presenting the most coveted award of the night – Video of the Year – which went to Cabello.