Was Madonna’s VMAs Tribute To Aretha Franklin Really Just A Tribute To Madonna?

The Queen of Pop gets panned for her tribute to the Queen of Soul

August 21, 2018

Theo Wargo / Staff

On paper it’s a tribute that makes sense, have one member of music royalty salute another. However, after Madonna honored Aretha Franklin at the MTV Video Music Awards by sharing a story about being Madonna, many thought the moment was out of line.

Madonna offered up a story of singing Aretha’s “Natural Woman” during an audition early in her career. It was her performance of that song that led to an opportunity that she ultimately backed out of. "None of this could have happened, without our lady of soul" she said. "I want to thank you Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen."

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There’s a few problems with that, the first being that it’s not really about Aretha Franklin. The story is more about Madonna enjoying the music of Aretha Franklin, and if this week has taught us anything, we all have a similar story.

There needed to be a moment dedicated to the Queen of Soul at the VMAs, but perhaps this wasn’t the one. Twitter seems to agree.

Madonna did go on to present the Video Of The Year award to Camila Cabello, who actually paid better tribute to Madonna than Madonna did to Aretha.

If you missed any of our MTV VMAs coverage, you can catch a full rundown here and check out all the best looks here.