Aretha Franklin’s passing deeply affected musicians and fans from the youngest to oldest generations. And during the VMAs, it was Madonna’s job to pay tribute to the great legend. On the day of Aretha’s death, Ariana Grande performed “Natural Woman” with the Roots. And so for the VMAs, some may have expected another musical tribute to the Queen of Soul.
But instead, Madonna chose to focus on how Aretha affected her life and helped her become a success, detailed the Hollywood Reporter. Rather, many believe she should have focused way less on herself and more on Aretha’s life and achievements. One Twitter user said “Madonna gave herself a tribute featuring Aretha.”
Madonna discussed how she sang “Natural Woman” at an audition, and credits her ensuing success to Aretha.
“None of this would have happened, could have happened, without our lady of soul. She led me to where I am today… 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.”
The outfit that Madonna wore was quite eccentric. She wore a baggy black dress, but adorned herself with tons of bracelets, necklaces, and a headpiece in vibrant colors.
— Rachel Magnabosco (@rachel_mag) August 21, 2018
And Madonna’s 10-minute-long story about her own success and her life only caused Twitter to respond accordingly. People couldn’t believe that it was happening, and were outraged at the horrible tribute. Others pointed out that the VMAs did a bad job, but that not everyone did. One user pointed out, “Say what you want about BET… they would’ve done a way better Aretha Franklin tribute. This Madonna speech is reprehensible.”
#VMAs: The Queen of Pop @Madonna pays tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin: "I want to thank you, Aretha for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen." pic.twitter.com/ugdxbr48Gz
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) August 21, 2018
Some of the highlights from Madonna’s speech included saying that her audition judges didn’t think “some skinny-ass white girl” like her would “belt out a song by one of the greatest soul singers that ever lived,” reported CNN. Ironically, she also added “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” at the end of her speech, which is the last thing fans think Madonna did for the Queen.
For many social media users, the reason the tribute was so frustrating is that there were other people in the audience that could have done a much better job. One girl said simply that “Aretha Franklin didn’t deserve this.” Perhaps Ariana Grande could have been invited to do another rendition of “Natural Woman,” or someone else new could have sung something to celebrate Aretha. Unfortunately, many were left disappointed instead.