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Music

Madonna takes heat for self-serving tribute to Aretha Franklin at VMAs

| Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, 6:57 a.m.
Madonna presents a tribute to Aretha Franklin at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in New York.
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Madonna presents a tribute to Aretha Franklin at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in New York.
Madonna speaks onstage during the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City.
Getty Images for MTV
Madonna speaks onstage during the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City.

Madonna's tribute to the late Aretha Franklin at MTV's VMAs on Monday turned out, for many, to be full of 'D-i-s-r-e-s-p-e-c-t."

The one-time pop star was there to present the award video of the year and honor the Queen of Soul, but her speech turned out to be more about Madonna than Franklin.

Madonna began by telling the audience, "Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life." But from there, the speech went into how she — Madonna, not Aretha — came to New York and broke into the business. She said while on an audition for a backup singing gig with a French disco producer she was asked to sing and chose "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," one of Franklin's signature tunes. She sang it a cappella.

Madonna went on (still about herself), saying said she didn't end up getting that job, but that the producers called her and told her she had a "rawness" about her. She ended up going to Paris and … well, Madonna went on more about herself and her career.

Minutes into her speech, the Material Girl finally got to what was supposed to be the meat of her tribute: "So. You are probably all wondering why I am telling you this story. There is a connection, because none of this would have happened, could have happened, without our lady of soul. She lead me to where I am today. And I know she influenced so many people in this house tonight. In this room tonight. And I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Long live the queen."

Of course, she added even more about herself — a story from the 1984 VMAs and a wardrobe malfunction.

The critical responses have not been kind.


To be fair, not everyone was a hater.


After all that, the video of the year award ended up going to Camila Cabello. (In case you were wondering.)

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