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…”
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
“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.
I hate that Madonna manages to make EVERYTHING about herself – even when speaking on behalf of our luminaries. #VMAs
— Elgin Charles (@ElginCharles) August 21, 2018
“Madonna presents an Aretha Franklin tribute by Madonna featuring Madonna with Madonna and Madonna as ‘Madonna,'” joked EW’s Marc Snetiker.
Madonna presents an Aretha Franklin tribute by Madonna featuring Madonna with Madonna and Madonna as “Madonna”
— Marc (@MarcSnetiker) August 21, 2018
“Does Madonna know Madonna didn’t die,” wrote ESPN’s Katie Nolan.
does Madonna know Madonna didn’t die
— Katie Nolan (@katienolan) August 21, 2018
See more reacts below.
WHAT IN THE RACHEL DOZEAL IS THIS?!!! https://t.co/z1oTQ4136K
— Prentice Penny (@The_A_Prentice) 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 (@JeffJSays) August 21, 2018
Did Madonna just make Aretha’s death about her?!
— The Root (@TheRoot) August 21, 2018
Why was Madonna talking about crack houses?
— Craig Bro Dude (@CraigSJ) August 21, 2018
As a lifelong Madonna fan it pains me to say this…but this is what happens when you don't have anyone in your life who tells you that you shouldn't do something or tells you that you're acting out of control.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 21, 2018
— ToraShae (@BlackMajiik) 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
You do not disrespect an ICON like that. This is a jovial kiki about Madonna’s broken ass journey. You honor a legend by telling their story or SHUT UP. The AUDACITY.
— Nina Parker (@MzGossipGirl) August 21, 2018
See the full list of winner’s from Monday’s show here.