There are a multitude of legendary R&B and soul singers who could have graced the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards to pay tribute to Aretha Franklin. But somehow Madonna was chosen by VMA producers to honor the “Queen of Soul” less than one week after she passed.
Madonna was criticized after a lackluster tribute to Prince at the Billboard Awards following his death in 2016. Ignoring the backlash from that moment, VMA producers gave Madonna another shot at honoring a Black music legend. Similar to the Prince tribute, Madonna’s tribute to Franklin did not resonate with most viewers and was possibly met with even more criticism.
During the tribute to Aretha, Madonna shared stories about her own life and rise to fame. Near the end of her speech, Madonna took about six seconds to actually acknowledge Franklin. “I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen,” she said.
Madonna caught the wrath of Black Twitter following her speech and the announcement for “Video of the Year.”
Madonna ruined the Prince Tribute on the Billboard Awards in 2016.
Madonna ruined the Aretha Tribute on the #VMAs in 2018.
I really never want to see her again. Ever. pic.twitter.com/rp6QCql3aR
— April (@ReignOfApril) August 21, 2018
— Alicia Garza (@aliciagarza) August 21, 2018
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.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) August 21, 2018
Madonna really gentrified an entire tribute to Aretha with more anecdotes than a Presidential candidate. You gotta be kidding me… #VMAs
— Jeff J. (@JeffJSays) August 21, 2018
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……
— Charlamagne Tha God (@cthagod) August 21, 2018