Since the tragic passing of Aretha Franklin last Thursday (August 16), fans have gathered at epicenter known as Twitter with various predictions over who should be apart of the Queen of Soul's tributes at the upcoming award shows. All eyes were on MTV's Video Music Awards since it was up first and Madonna was the one in charge of last night's debacle.
The tribute served as a prelude to the Video of The Year presentation, which featured a clip of Aretha singing her classic ballad, "I Say A Little Prayer." Madonna's speech (snippet below) was an ode to self with a slight nod at Aretha's contributions. The only parts of the speech that actually had something to do with Aretha Franklin was when Madonna mentioned that she performed "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" to audition for French producers while living in a crackhouse. She ended her longwinded sentiment with this, "None of [my success] would’ve happened, could’ve happened, without our Lady of Soul. She led me to where I am today. And I know she influenced so many people in this house tonight, in this room tonight. I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us: R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Long live the Queen."
However, this couldn't make up for the insolence that already ensued.
Madonna responsed to the backlash via an Instagram press release, "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. Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge. I love Aretha! R.E.S.P.E.C.T. 🙏🏼♥️ and there is nothing anyone can say or do that will change that."
Regardless of intention, the damage is done.
(Photos from left: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images, Andrew Biraj/AFP/Getty Images)