Madonna was set to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul at Monday’s VMAs, but the speech seemed to be all about the Queen of Pop — Madonna herself, that is.
MTV asked Madonna to honor Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday, during her intro for the video of the year winner announcement. Most of the tribute to Franklin, however, was spent explaining the early origins of Madonna’s career. The only mention of Franklin was that Madonna sang “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” to — ultimately unsuccessfully — audition for a song. She credited that failure with launching her into a different opportunity that led to the rest of her career.
She added towards the end of her speech: “I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen.”
“I’m so lost,” Charlamagne Tha God wrote on Twitter. “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…”
“this is why personal essays are over,” wrote one observer.
“I hate that Madonna manages to make EVERYTHING about herself – even when speaking on behalf of our lumaries,” wrote Elgin Charles.
“Madonna presents an Aretha Franklin tribute by Madonna featuring Madonna with Madonna and Madonna as ‘Madonna,'” joked EW’s Marc Snetiker.
“Does Madonna know Madonna didn’t die,” wrote ESPN’s Katie Nolan.
See more reacts below.
See the full list of winner’s from Monday’s show here.