Published: Tue, August 21, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Kristi Paul

Madonna Gives Aretha Franklin a Baffling Tribute at the 2018 VMAs


I thought, 'Why not? She talked of the rejection she faced felt that: "Fortunately, one of my favorite albums was Lady Soul by Aretha Franklin".

Madonna also presented the top award of the night, for video of the year, to Camila Cabello for Havana.

Taking the stage to share what many assumed would be a heartfelt speech honouring the late Franklin, it really just turned out to be a rambling anecdotal mess about Madonna and her early career.

Madonna presents a tribute to Aretha Franklin at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in NY.

But many fans didn't think her tribute empowered Aretha herself.


Madonna went on to explain that she "panicked" during an audition to be a French musician's back-up singer and dancer, and made a decision to try Franklin's classic (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, a cappella.

She then spoke about how she went for a backup singing role for a French disco producer, but forgot to prepare a song at the audition.

In the lead up to the 2018 VMAs, reports surfaced of a planned tribute to Aretha Franklin, the musical titan and civil rights activist who passed away last Thursday.

"Some skinny-ass white girl is going to come up here and belt out a song from one of the greatest soul singers who ever lived?" she asked the crowd rhetorically, going on to say she absolutely did it because "bitch, I'm Madonna".

It started with an old clip of Aretha belting it out, before Madonna graced the stage and shared what at first sounded like an inspiring story about how Aretha impacted (and changed!) Madonna's entire career trajectory.


"For the record, I LOVE Madonna. Respect. Long live the queen".

"So you're probably all wondering why I'm telling you this story".

"I'm so lost", Charlamagne Tha God wrote on Twitter.

Viewers took to Twitter to criticize Madonna and MTV for the speech, saying it was self-indulgent and did not focus enough on Franklin. "@MTV our attractive black queen deserves better", wrote one user.

The Queen of Pop was asked to speak about the late Queen of Soul at Monday's award ceremony in NY.


Madonna didn't have sheet music though so she chose to sing the song acapella because she knew it "off by heart" anyway - and even though she was "some skinny-ass white girl", she was still able to sing the song no bother.

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