Madonna responded to backlash on Tuesday following her tribute to Aretha Franklin at the MTV Video Music Awards, saying she “did not intend to do a tribute to her,” but was asked by MTV to “share any anecdotes” she had about the late singer.
In an Instagram post congratulating video of the year winner Camila Cabello, Madonna addressed the controversy, and offered some context as to why she spoke about Franklin.
“Just to clarify: I was asked to present video of the year by MTV!,” she wrote. “And then they asked me to share any anecdotes I had in my career connected to Aretha Franklin! I shared a part of my journey and thanked Aretha for inspiring me along the way. I did not intend to do a tribute to her! That would be impossible in 2 minutes with all the noise and tinsel of an award show. I could never do her justice in this context or environment. Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge. I love Aretha!”
Many took to Twitter to criticize Madonna on Monday night for her words about Franklin, who died at age 76 last week. After Madonna’s speech, in which she spoke about the origins of her own career and how a failed audition singing Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” launched her into pop stardom, Twitter users, including Charlamagne tha God, roasted her for focusing on herself.
“I’m so lost,” Charlamagne wrote. “I thought Madonna was supposed to be paying homage to Aretha but all I heard was her paying homage to herself. HEAVY on the Mayonnaise…”
Madonna gave the widely criticized speech while presenting the most coveted award of the night — video of the year — which went to Cabello. Following Franklin’s death, MTV asked Madonna to add a tribute to Franklin in her introduction.
The pop star did mention Franklin by name toward the end of her speech, when she added, “I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen.”
In her Instagram post, Madonna referenced her final send-off and blamed viewers for being “quick to judge” and having “short attention spans.” An accolade of some sort was expected at the show after individual tributes from musicians, actors, and more poured in following Franklin’s death.