At last night's VMA's, a proper tribute to Queen of Soul and musical icon Aretha Franklin was one thing notably missing. While Twitter debates around which singer has the range to cover Aretha have been raging since she passed away on Thursday, the awards show did little to nothing to even attempt to honor her massive influence on American culture. Instead, Madonna, dressed in an indigenous headdress, was given an awkward few minutes to address the singer's legacy, and her resulting anecdote about successfully auditioning with Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman" when she was still an unknown artist did not go over well.
"None of this would have happened — could have happened — without our Lady of Soul. She led me to where I am today," Madonna said, concluding her story. "And I know she influenced so many people in this house night. In this room tonight. And I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us." Twitter users were quick to react to Madonna's centering herself during the one moment of the night dedicated to Franklin.
Madonna made Aretha Franklin's death about herself and her own musical journey, and honestly, this is some of the w… https://t.co/kY98JhNnsk
Madonna defended herself from critics, saying that the moment was never meant to be a tribute and writing on Twitter: "And just to clarify: I was asked to present video of the year by MTV! 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."