Madonna's Aretha Franklin Tribute At The VMAs Sparks Backlash

Madonna VMAs

During last night's VMAs ceremony, Madonna came up to the stage and provided a tribute to the late, great Aretha Franklin. The powerhouse singer passed away last week at the age of 76. Or, at least, a tribute was supposed to happen. But many viewers found themselves displeased with Madonna's intended remembrance of the belated musician, believing the "Like a Prayer" artist spent more time celebrating herself than the Queen of Soul. Here's what went down at the VMAs, causing Madonna to earn a great deal of criticism for how she opted to remember the late fellow singer.

When Madonna came up to present the Video of the Year award during last night's VMAs ceremony, the musician wanted to take a moment to remember Aretha Franklin and pay her due respects to the "Respect" singer, who passed away after an extended battle with pancreatic cancer. As it was recounted by CNN, Madonna opened by saying that Aretha Franklin "changed the course of my life," and while that was a nice start, it devolved into an extended, meandering story about Madonna's journey into the music business, with Aretha Franklin's own story seemingly pushed to the side.

As you can imagine, the response on social media was not the least bit kind to Madonna's botched, self-interested tribute to Aretha Franklin.

Others were critical of how Madonna turned what was supposed to be a heartfelt, moving tribute to Aretha Franklin into several personal anecdotes.

Other social media users, meanwhile, were quick to point out that this inappropriate Aretha Franklin remembrance wasn't the first time Madonna flubbed a tribute to a lost iconic artist. Social media users also made a point to note that Madonna did the same thing when Prince passed away only a couple years earlier, as well as when Michael Jackson died in 2009. Evidently, there is a stark pattern here, and several music fans are not the least bit amused by it.

Meanwhile, shortly after the VMAs aired on MTV, Madonna shared a picture of herself with the big winner for the evening, Camila Cabello, and she tried to explain what happened during the ceremony. As she claims, Madonna did not intend to do a tribute to Aretha Franklin. Whether she's just saying that to save face or not, it's clear that most people agree that it wasn't ultimately a fitting tribute to the incredible voice we lost a few days ago.

A photo posted by on

Here is a clip of the controversial speech Madonna gave at the VMAs last night before presenting the award of the evening to Camila Cabello.

Suffice to say, this moment wasn't Madonna's most well received moment, or tribute to a late singer and colleague. Fan are no doubt hoping that Aretha Franklin is given better and more fitting tributes to her indelible legacy in the following days. We'll keep you posted on additional updates in this story whenever they arrive right here at CinemaBlend.

Will Ashton

Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.