Madonna’s VMAs tribute to Aretha Franklin was all about HERSELF

MTV VMAs: Madonna is accused of speaking only about HERSELF during Aretha Franklin… as furious viewers brand the speech ‘reprehensible’

  • Madonna, 60, delivered a homage to the late singer at Monday night’s MTV Video Music Awards 
  • Soul legend Aretha passed away last week aged 76 following a battle with pancreatic cancer   
  • During her gushing speech, Madonna was criticised online as viewers accused the singer of speaking almost exclusively about herself with a rambling diatribe of personal anecdotes and stories
  • Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter tweeted of the speech ‘Whiteness has NO SHAME’
  • Madonna also attracted criticism at the time for her Prince tribute at the 2016 Billboard Awards
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Social media erupted in response to Madonna’s tribute to Aretha Franklin at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards on Monday night, after she was accused of ‘making the entire speech about herself’.

The 60-year-old singer took to the stage to honour the Respect singer, who tragically passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer last week aged 76, however many criticised the legendary singer for the content.

In the 10-minute address, Madonna recalled her early days as an aspiring singer and dancer, including one audition where she performed Franklin’s iconic (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. Despite heartfelt address, she angered fans after she was accused of her focus on herself rather than the ‘Queen Of Soul’.

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The legend: Social media erupted in response to Madonna ‘s tribute to Aretha Franklin at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards on Monday night, after she was accused of ‘making the entire speech about herself’

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    Angry viewers felt she spent more time talking about herself than the Queen of Soul, with Twitter soon swarmed with messages from fans who were unhappy with the tribute’s content. 

    Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, penned: ‘They just whited Aretha and she ain’t even cold yet…I hope she sends a thunderbolt to strike this blasphemy down… Whiteness has NO SHAME…

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    ‘Whoever at the #VMAs let Madonna get on stage and give a tribute to @ArethaFranklin or whatever that was really should be out of a job right about…now.’  

    The singer’s speech almost entirely focused on anecdotes from her own life – to the point that the audience clapped and cheered during one of the rare moments that the Think songstress’ name was mentioned. 


    Shock: The 60-year-old singer took to the stage to honour the Respect singer, who tragically passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer last week aged 76, however many criticised the legendary singer for the content 


    Eccentric: Many commentors found the pop star’s behavior at the event profoundly odd 

    Madonna’s speech in full  

    Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life. I left Detroit when I was 18. Thirty-five dollars in my pocket. My dream was to make it as a professional dancer. After years of struggling and being broke, I decided to go to audition for musical theater; I heard the pay was better. I had no training or dreams ever, ever becoming a singer, but I went for it. I got cut and rejected from every audition. Not tall enough. Not blends-in enough. 

    Not pretty enough, not enough, enough. Then, one day, a French disco sensation was looking for backup singers and dancers for a world tour. I thought, why not? I could go back to getting robbed, held at gunpoint and being mistaken for a prostitute in my third-floor walkup that was a crack house. I am a rebel, hard. So I set up for the audition. Two large French record producers sat in the empty theater, daring me to be amazing. The dance audition went well. 

    They asked if I had sheet music and a song prepared. I panicked. I overlooked this important part of the process. I had to think fast. My next meal was on the line. Fortunately, one of my favorite albums was Lady Soul by Aretha Franklin. I blurted out. “You make me feel… you make me feel like an actual woman.” Two French guys shouted at me. “You know, by Aretha Franklin.” They looked over at the pianist. [I said] “I don’t need sheet music, I know every word. I know the song. 

    I will sing it a cappella.” I could see they didn’t take me seriously. Why should they? Some skinny-ass while girl is going to come up here and belt out a song from one of the greatest soul singers ever, a cappella? I said, “Bitch, I’m Madonna.” No, I didn’t. Just kidding. I wasn’t “Madonna” yet. I don’t know who I was. I don’t know what came over me. I walked over and started. When I was finished, I was drenched in nerve sweat. You know what that nerve sweat? 

    They said, “We will call you one day, maybe soon.” Weeks went by. No phone call. Finally, the phone rang. It was one of the producers: “We don’t think you are right for this job.” “Why are you calling me?” He replied, “We think you have great potential. You are rough around the edges. We want to bring you to Paris and make you a star. 

    We will put you in a studio, with the great Giorgio Moroder.” I had no idea who that was, but I wanted to live in Paris and I wanted to eat some food. So, that was the beginning of my journey as a singer. I left for Paris, but I came back a few months because I had not earned the life I was living. It felt wrong. They were good people. I wanted to write my own songs and be a musician, not a puppet. I needed to go home and learn guitar. That is what I did. And the rest is history. 

    So, you are probably all wondering why I am telling you this story. There is a reason, because 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 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. 

    Madonna told stories about her own career highlights and lowlights, only returning to Aretha when she mentioned that she auditioned to one of her songs on her way to becoming a star in her own right. 

    She told the crowd: ‘Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life. I left Detroit when I was 18. Thirty-five dollars in my pocket. My dream was to make it as a professional dancer. After years of struggling and being broke, I decided to go to auditions for musical theater. 

    She continued: ‘I had no training or dreams of ever becoming a singer but I went for it. I got cut and rejected from every audition — not tall enough, not blend-in enough, not 12-octave range enough, not pretty enough. Not enough.’

     ‘And then one day a French disco sensation was looking for backup singers and dancers for his world tour. I thought, ‘Why not? The worst that can happen is I can go back to getting robbed, held at gunpoint and being mistaken for a prostitute in my third floor walkup that was also a crackhouse.’ That’s right, I’m a Rebel Heart.’

    (The ‘French disco sensation’ whom she auditioned to tour is likely Born To Be Alive singer Patrick Hernandez, who invited the young star on his 1979 world tour.)


    Mad: Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, penned: ‘They just whited Aretha and she ain’t even cold yet…I hope she sends a thunderbolt to strike this blasphemy down… Whiteness has NO SHAME’


    And the winner is: Camila Cabello took home the award

    Madonna went on: ‘So I showed up for the audition and two very large French record producers sat in the empty theater, daring me to be amazing. The dance audition went well. Then they asked me if I had sheet music and a song prepared. I panicked. I had overlooked this important part of the audition process.

    ‘I had to think fast, my next meal was on the line. Fortunately one of my favorite albums was Lady Soul by Aretha Franklin. I blurted out ‘You Make Me Feel’… silence. ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.’ Two French guys nodded at me. I said, ‘You know, by Aretha Franklin.”

    She continued: ‘They looked over at the pianist, he shook his head. ‘I don’t need sheet music,’ I said, ‘I know every word. I know the song by heart, I will sing it a cappella.’ I could see that they did not take me seriously — and why should they? 

    ‘Some skinny a** white girl is going to come up here and belt out a song by one of the greatest soul singers that ever lived? And a cappella … I said, ‘B*tch, I’m Madonna.’ No, I didn’t, I didn’t say that. ‘Cause I wasn’t Madonna yet. I don’t know who I was. I don’t know what I said, I don’t know what came over me.’


    Shock: She continued: ‘They looked over at the pianist, he shook his head. ‘I don’t need sheet music,’ I said, ‘I know every word. I know the song by heart, I will sing it a cappella.’ I could see that they did not take me seriously — and why should they’ 


    Upsetting: She eventually concluded: ‘So you’re probably all wondering why I’m telling you this story. There’s a connection, because none of this would’ve happened – could’ve happened – without our lady of soul’ 

    ‘I don’t know I said. I don’t know what came over me. I walked to the edge of the pitch black stage, and started singing. When I was finished and drenched in nerve sweat. You know what that is, right nerve sweat? They said, “We will call you one day, maybe soon.” Weeks went by and no phone call.’ 

    ‘Finally, the phone rang, it was one of the producers, saying. “We don’t think you are right for this job.” I’m like, “Motherf****r, why are you calling me?” He replied, “We think you have great potential. You are rough around the edges, but there is good rawness. We want to bring you to Paris and make you a star. Well, we will put you in a studio, with the great Giorgio Moroder.” And I had no idea who that was, and I wanted to live in Paris and I wanted to eat some food.’

    ‘So, that was the beginning of my journey as a singer. I left for Paris, but I came back a few months later. Because I had not earned the life I was living. It felt wrong. They were good people, but wanted to write my own songs and be a musician, not a puppet. I needed to go home and learn to play guitar, and that’s exactly what I did. And the rest is history.’


    The big reveal: The 60-year-old singer took to the stage, supposedly to honor the Respect singer, who passed away last week at the age of 76. Aretha seen here in 1993

    She eventually concluded: ‘So you’re probably all wondering why I’m telling you this story. There’s a connection, because none of this would’ve happened – could’ve 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 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.’

    ‘Another anecdote I would like to share: In 1984, this is where the first VMAs were, in this very building. And I performed at this show. I sang Like a Virgin at the top of a cake.’

    ‘And on my way down, I lost a shoe, and I was rolling on the floor and trying to make it look like it was part of the choreography, looking for the missing stilleto, and my dress flew up, and my butt was exposed, and oh my God, quelle horror. 

    ‘After the show, my manager said my career was over. LOL. So. I would now like to present the nominees for the video of the year.’  


    Eye roll: Real Housewives Of Atlanta star Kandi Buruss was not a fan of the ‘tribute’ either


    Have some Respect: ‘So… Is this tribute for Aretha? Or are you just taking the opportunity to talk about yourself?’ wrote Modern Family star Ariel Winter in her Instagram Story


    Damn: Radio and television personality Scottie Beam also didn’t hold back when it came to expressing her thoughts on Madge’s tribute


    Thoughts of a rapper: Charlamagne Tha God was none too impressed


    Ouch: Social media reaction to the tribute was swift and brutal


    ‘Disrespect’: Viewers took to social media to criticise the rambling speech, saying it was self-indulgent and did not focus enough on Franklin

    Viewers took to social media to criticise the rambling speech, saying it was self-indulgent and did not focus enough on Franklin.

    Songwriter and Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burruss rolled her eyes during an Instagram story as she said: ‘Did Madonna just tell that long-ass f*cking story to say thank you to Aretha Franklin? She made that whole thing about her, when it should have just been about Aretha Franklin.’

    Radio presenter and television personality Charlamagne Tha God tweeted: ‘I’m so lost. I thought Madonna was supposed to be paying homage to Aretha but I all heard was her paying homage to herself. HEAVY on the Mayonnaise……’ 

     ‘So… Is this tribute for Aretha? Or are you just taking the opportunity to talk about yourself?’ wrote Modern Family star Ariel Winter in her Instagram Story. 


    Posers: Nicki Minaj takes to social media with the Swept Away star


    Crown of thorns? Madonna went heavy on the religious iconography with her costume


    Are you gonna go my way? Madonna posed with Lenny Kravitz on social media too


    Self(ie) absorbed: Another backstage photo with the woman known casually as ‘Madge’


    Headed up: She was preparing for her turn on stage shortly before she was hit with the criticism 

    Radio and television personality Scottie Beam also didn’t hold back when it came to expressing her thoughts on Madge’s tribute.

    ‘That was so so so so so disrespectful,’ wrote the New Yorker. ‘Madonna gave herself a tribute featuring Aretha.’  Others questioned why Madonna was chosen to deliver Franklin’s tribute over artists who were more closely associated with her.

    Her death last week brought tributes ranging from former President Barack Obama and Elton John to Carole King, Barbara Streisand and Lionel Richie.

    ‘For the record, I LOVE Madonna. I´m a huge fan. She just shouldn´t be anywhere near Aretha. She shouldn´t be Aretha adjacent,’ political and cultural commentator Marc Lamont Hill wrote on Twitter.


    Not exactly travelling light: Madonna was seen at Newark Airport in New Jersey earlier in the day… accompanied by a lot of luggage


    Incognito… kinda: Madonna tried to cover her famous face, but given it was with a rainbow shawl it wasn’t exactly inconspicuous




    Pippi Longstocking: Madonna rocked twin braids for her stroll through the airport

    2018 MTV VMA WINNERS

    VIDEO OF THE YEAR

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    Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B – ‘Finesse (Remix)’ – Atlantic Records

    Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug – ‘Havana’ – Syco Music/Epic Records – WINNER

    The Carters – ‘APES**T’ – Roc Nation/Parkwood Entertainment

    Childish Gambino – ‘This Is America’ – mcDJ / RCA Records

    Drake – ‘God’s Plan’ – YMCMB/Cash Money/Republic Records

     

    ARTIST OF THE YEAR

    Ariana Grande – Republic Records

    Bruno Mars – Atlantic Records

    Camila Cabello – Syco Music/Epic Records – WINNER

    Cardi B – Atlantic Records

    Drake – YMCMB/Cash Money/Republic Records

    Post Malone – Republic Records

     

    SONG OF THE YEAR

    Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B – ‘Finesse (Remix)’ – Atlantic Records

    Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug – ‘Havana’ – Syco Music/Epic Records

    Drake – ‘God’s Plan’ – YMCMB/Cash Money/Republic Records

    Dua Lipa – ‘New Rules’ – Warner Bros. Records

    Ed Sheeran – ‘Perfect’ – Atlantic Records

    Post Malone ft. 21 Savage – ‘rockstar’ – Republic Records – WINNER

     

    BEST NEW ARTIST (Presented by Taco Bell®)

    Bazzi – iamcosmic/Atlantic Records

    Cardi B – Atlantic Records – WINNER

    Chloe x Halle – Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records

    Hayley Kiyoko – Atlantic Records

    Lil Pump – Warner Bros. Records

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    BEST COLLABORATION

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    Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B – ‘Finesse (Remix)’ – Atlantic Records

    The Carters – ‘APES**T’ – Roc Nation/Parkwood Entertainment

    Jennifer Lopez ft. DJ Khaled & Cardi B – ‘Dinero’ – Epic Records/Nuyorican Productions – WINNER

    Logic ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid – ‘1-800-273-8255’ – Def Jam Recordings

    N.E.R.D & Rihanna – ‘Lemon’ – i am OTHER/Columbia Records

     

    PUSH ARTIST OF THE YEAR

    JULY 2018 – Chloe x Halle – Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records

    JUNE 2018 – Sigrid – Island Records

    MAY 2018 – Lil Xan – Columbia Records

    APRIL 2018 – Hayley Kiyoko – Atlantic Records – WINNER

    MARCH 2018 – Jessie Reyez – Island Records

    FEBRUARY 2018 – Tee Grizzley – 300 Entertainment

    JANUARY 2018 – Bishop Briggs – Island Records

    DECEMBER 2017 – Grace VanderWaal – Syco Music/Columbia Records

    NOVEMBER 2017 – Why Don’t We – Atlantic Records

    OCTOBER 2017 – PRETTYMUCH – Syco Music/Columbia Records

    SEPTEMBER 2017 – SZA – TDE/Aftermath/Interscope Records

    AUGUST 2017 – Kacy Hill – Def Jam Recordings

    JULY 2017 – Khalid – RCA Records

    JUNE 2017 – Kyle – Atlantic Records

    MAY 2017 – Noah Cyrus – Republic Records

       

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    Ariana Grande – ‘No Tears Left to Cry’ – Republic Records – WINNER

    Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug – ‘Havana’ – Syco Music/Epic Records

    Demi Lovato – ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ – Island Records

    Ed Sheeran – ‘Perfect’ – Atlantic Records

    P!nk – ‘What About Us’ – RCA Records

    Shawn Mendes – ‘In My Blood’ – Island Records

     

    BEST HIP HOP

    Cardi B ft. 21 Savage – ‘Bartier Cardi’ – KSR/Atlantic Records

    The Carters – ‘APES**T’ – Roc Nation/Parkwood Entertainment

    Drake – ‘God’s Plan’ – YMCMB/Cash Money/Republic Record

    J. Cole – ‘ATM’ – Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope Records

    Migos ft. Drake – ‘Walk It Talk It’ – Quality Control/Capitol Records

    Nicki Minaj – ‘Chun-Li’ – Young Money/Cash Money Records – WINNER 

     

    BEST LATIN

    Daddy Yankee – ‘Dura’ – El Cartel Records/UMLE

    J Balvin, Willy William – ‘Mi Gente’ – UMLE/Republic Records – WINNER

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    Luis Fonsi, Demi Lovato – ‘Échame La Culpa’ – UMLE/Republic/Island/Universal Music Latino

    Maluma – ‘Felices los 4’ – Sony Music Entertainment US Latin

    Shakira ft. Maluma – ‘Chantaje’ – Sony Music Entertainment US Latin

     

    BEST DANCE

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    Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa – ‘One Kiss’ – Columbia Records

    The Chainsmokers – ‘Everybody Hates Me’ – Disruptor Records/Columbia Records

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    Marshmello ft. Khalid – ‘Silence’ – RCA Records/Ultra Records

    Zedd & Liam Payne – ‘Get Low (Street Video)’ – Interscope Records  

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    Panic! At The Disco – ‘Say Amen (Saturday Night)’ – Fueled By Ramen/Atlantic Records

    Thirty Seconds to Mars – ‘Walk On Water’ – Interscope Records

     

    VIDEO WITH A MESSAGE

    Childish Gambino – ‘This Is America’ – mcDJ / RCA Records – WINNER

    Dej Loaf and Leon Bridges – ‘Liberated’ – Columbia Records

    Drake – ‘God’s Plan’ – YMCMB/Cash Money/Republic Records

    Janelle Monáe – ‘PYNK’ – Bad Boy Records/Atlantic Records

    Jessie Reyez – ‘Gatekeeper’ – Island Records

    Logic ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid – ‘1-800-273-8255’ – Def Jam Recordings

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    Ariana Grande – ‘No Tears Left to Cry’ – Republic Records – Cinematography by Scott Cunningham

    The Carters – ‘APES**T’ – Roc Nation/Parkwood Entertainment – Cinematography by Benoit Debie – WINNER 

    Childish Gambino – ‘This Is America’ – mcDJ / RCA Records – Cinematography by Larkin Seiple

    Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran – ‘River’ – Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records – Cinematography by Frank Mobilio & Patrick Meller

    Shawn Mendes – ‘In My Blood’ – Island Records – Cinematography by Jonathan Sela

     

    BEST DIRECTION

    The Carters – ‘APES**T’ – Roc Nation/Parkwood Entertainment – Directed by Ricky Saix

    Childish Gambino – ‘This Is America’ – mcDJ / RCA Records – Directed by Hiro Murai – WINNER

    Drake – ‘God’s Plan’ – YMCMB/Cash Money/Republic Records – Directed by Karena Evans

    Ed Sheeran – ‘Perfect’ – Atlantic Records – Directed by Jason Koenig

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    Shawn Mendes – ‘In My Blood’ – Island Records – Directed by Jay Martin

     

    BEST ART DIRECTION

    The Carters – ‘APES**T’ – Roc Nation/Parkwood Entertainment – Art Direction by Jan Houlevigue – WINNER

    Childish Gambino – ‘This Is America’ – mcDJ / RCA Records – Art Direction by Jason Kisvarday

    J. Cole – ‘ATM’ – Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope Records – Art Direction by Miles Mullin

    Janelle Monáe – ‘Make Me Feel’ – Bad Boy Records/Atlantic Records – Art Direction by Pepper Nguyen

    SZA – ‘The Weekend’ – TDE/RCA Records – Art Direction by SZA and Solange

    Taylor Swift – ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ – Big Machine Records – Art Direction by Brett Hess

     

    BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

    Ariana Grande – ‘No Tears Left to Cry’ – Republic Records – Visual Effects by Vidal and Loris Paillier for Buf

    Avicii ft. Rita Ora – ‘Lonely Together’ – Geffen Records – Visual Effects by KPP

    Eminem ft. Beyoncé – ‘Walk On Water’ – Shady/Aftermath/Interscope Records – Visual Effects Supervisor Rich Lee for Drive Studios

    Kendrick Lamar & SZA – ‘All The Stars’ – TDE/Aftermath/Interscope Records – Visual Effects by Loris Paillier for BUF Paris – WINNER

    Maroon 5 – ‘Wait’ – 222/Interscope Records – Visual Effects by TIMBER

    Taylor Swift – ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ – Big Machine Records – Visual Effects by Ingenuity Studios

     

    BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

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    Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug – ‘Havana’ – Syco Music/Epic Records – Choreography by Calvit Hodge and Sara Bivens

    The Carters – ‘APES**T’ – Roc Nation/Parkwood Entertainment – Choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Jaquel Knight

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    Dua Lipa – ‘IDGAF’ – Warner Bros. Records – Choreography by Marion Motin

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    BEST EDITING

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    The Carters – ‘APES**T’ – Roc Nation/Parkwood Entertainment – Taylor Ward and Sam Ostrove

    Childish Gambino – ‘This Is America’ – mcDJ / RCA Records – Editing by Ernie Gilbert

    Janelle Monáe – ‘Make Me Feel’ – Bad Boy Records/Atlantic Records – Editing by Deji Laray

    N.E.R.D & Rihanna – ‘Lemon’ – i am OTHER/Columbia Records – Editing by Taylor Ward – WINNER

    Taylor Swift – ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ – Big Machine Records – Editing by Chancler Haynes for Cosmo

     

     

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