MTV VMAs 2018: Madonna gets backlash for Aretha Franklin tribute

WION Web Team
New York, NY, USA Published: Aug 21, 2018, 12:24 PM(IST)

Madonna speaks during a tribute to the late singer Aretha Franklin at 2018 MTV Video Music Awards - Show Photograph:( Reuters )

MTV Video Music Awards show last night had an expected tribute to veteran singer Aretha Franklin who died last week at the age of 76. Towards the end of the ceremony, Madonna gave a 10-minute speech in which she recalled her early days as an aspiring singer-dancer, including one audition where she performed a cappella version of Franklin’s iconic song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

Madonna then spoke of how that led her to pick up a singing job in Paris which she opted to miss in return for a trip to the United States to learn how to play guitar. Madonna went on to become one of the world’s biggest pop stars, as we are all aware. 

Madonna said, “None of this would have happened without our lady of soul,” Madonna said. “She led me to where I am today and I know she influenced so many people in this room tonight. I want to thank you Aretha for empowering all of us. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Long live the queen.”

Post this, MTV played a brief clip of Aretha from early in her career.

As Madonna gave a tribute to the veteran star, Twitterati took to their channels to dismiss it and called it self-indulgent. One author Michael Arceneaux tweeted: “The Aretha Franklin tribute is Madonna talking about herself at great length?”


There were others who questioned why Madonna was chosen to deliver Aretha’s tribute over artists who were more closely associated with her.

Some also took to Twitter to call out the tribute while pointing out that they are themselves a fan of Madonna but didn’t like what she said to honour the work of Aretha Franklin. One person wrote: “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.”

“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,” tweeted Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.


Madonna’s choice of attire was also criticised as some called it cultural appropriation when she wore a black caftan and her hair in braids. 

As news of Aretha’s death came out, tributes from around the world started to pour in including those from former US President Barack Obama, Elton John, Carole King, Barbara Streisand and Lionel Richie.

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