“So, you are probably all wondering why I am telling you this story. There is a connection.”
After the death of Aretha Franklin, MTV had to find the right person to pay tribute to the queen of soul at the Video Music Awards (VMAs). They picked Madonna, and it was a big mistake.
At short notice, producers of the VMAs asked the queen of pop to pay tribute to the late, great queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, who passed away on August 16. What followed was bizarre, but totally in keeping with Madonna’s ego.
Aretha’s death coincided with Madonna’s 60th birthday, prompting the pop icon plenty to talk about herself and her own achievements rather than those of Aretha.
Wearing something that looked like a cross between a dream catcher and a crown of thorns, Madge began her speech by saying “Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life,” before detailing her own rise through the ranks of the music industry.
“I left Detroit when I was 18. $35 in my pocket. My dream was to make it as a professional dancer,” she added, and it went downhill from there.
In what’s become a trademark Madonna speech of late, it focused much on what she had to overcome to become the global icon she is. She recalled in great detail her rough upbringing in Detroit, where she said she was often mistaken for a “prostitute” while walking up her third-story apartment building that she described as a “crack house.”
She made reference to Aretha’s ‘You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman), which she sang for an audition that ended up being core to her rise to stardom.
“You are rough for the edges but there is good rawness. We want to bring you to Paris and make you a star,” she remembered the people auditioning her saying.
“So, you are probably all wondering why I am telling you this story. There is a connection,” she added.
“Because none of this would have happened, could have happened, without our lady of soul. She led me to where I am today,” she continued.
“And I know she influenced so many people in this house tonight, in this room tonight. And I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Long live the queen.”
And here are the funniest Twitter reactions:
Many people watching at home were not too happy:
"If it wasn't for Aretha, we wouldn't have Madonna"- Madonna
— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) August 21, 2018
*Aretha Franklin dies*
MTV: “You know what would be really good? If Madonna talked about herself for 10 minutes and mentioned Aretha once”
— Hannah (@HannnSandwich) August 21, 2018
#Madonna is demonstrating a dynamic performance of peak white womanhood. This was not an #Aretha tribute but a monologue on how another iconic Black woman is being reduced to how she helped a white woman.
— Anansi (@blaqueerflow) August 21, 2018
"If I ever pass away, I just hope they won't have Madonna dress like the widow of Fu Manchu & talk all about herself in a 9 min. tribute to me."
– Aretha Franklin#TooLate #Madonna #Loves #Madonna #VMAs #ArethaTribute pic.twitter.com/jDH3Zvui27
— Brushing Off (@BrushingOff) August 21, 2018
Madonna gave herself a tribute featuring Aretha.
— LoveYourself (@ScottieBeam) August 21, 2018
Madonna doesn’t have the vocal range to do a tribute to anything but the wind.
— Richie Brave?????? (@RichieBrave) August 21, 2018
So all the black artist they could call to talk about the legacy of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and MTV brought out Madonna to mention Aretha one time in her long ass story???? #VMAs D.I.S.R.E.S.P.E.C.T. pic.twitter.com/9wAmpxH74k
— Joy Henry (@joibella19) August 21, 2018
@vmas could Madonna's "tribute" to Aretha Franklin be any more about herself and any less about Aretha Franklin ? #Madonna #Aretha #VMAs2018
— Kane Elliott (@kanelliott) August 21, 2018
When Madonna is supposed to be honoring Aretha Franklin but goes on about her self for 10 mins straight #VMAs pic.twitter.com/Br6I8dknxb
— Rachel Magnabosco (@rachel_mag) August 21, 2018
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
Respect? We don’t think so. But then, Madonna was never one to let someone else take the spotlight. Here’s the full transcript of her Aretha ‘tribute’:
“Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life. I left Detroit when I was 18. $35 in my pocket. My dream was to make it as a professional dancer.
After years of struggling and being broke, I decided to go to auditions for musical theater. I heard the pay was better. I had no training or dreams of ever becoming a singer, but I went for it. I got cut, and rejected from every audition. Not tall enough. Not blends-in enough, not 12-octave range enough, not pretty enough, not enough, enough.
And then, one day, a French disco sensation was looking for back-up singers and dancers for his world tour. I thought, “Why not?” The worst that can happen is I could go back to getting robbed, held at gunpoint and being mistaken for a prostitute in my third floor walk-up that was also a crack house.
So I showed up for the audition, and two very large French record producers sat in the empty theater, daring me to be amazing. The dance audition went well. Then they asked if I had sheet music and a song prepared. I panicked. I had overlooked this important part of the audition process. I had to think fast. My next meal was on the line.
Fortunately, one of my favorite albums was “Lady Soul” by Aretha Franklin. I blurted out, “You Make Me Feel.” Silence. “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman.” Two French guys nodded at me. I said, “You know, by Aretha Franklin.” Again, “Mmmhmm.” They looked over at the pianist. He shook his head. “I don’t need sheet music,” I said, “I know every word. I know the song by heart, I will sing it a cappella.”
I could see that they did not take me seriously. And why should they? Some skinny a– white girl is going to come up here and belt out a song by one of the greatest soul singers that ever lived? A cappella? I said, “B—- I’m Madonna.”
No, I didn’t. I didn’t say that. Cause I wasn’t Madonna yet. I don’t know who I was. I don’t know what I said. I don’t know what came over me. I walked to the edge of the pitch black stage and I started singing.
When I was finished and drenched in nerve sweat. Y’all know what this is, right, nerve sweat? They said, “We will call you one day, and maybe soon.”
So weeks went by and no phone call. Finally, the phone rang, and it was one of the producers, saying, (French accent) “We don’t think you are right for this job.” I’m like, “Why are you calling me?” He replied, “We think you have great potentials. You are rough for the edges but there is good rawness. We want to bring you to Paris and make you a star.”
We will put you in a studio . . . it sounded good, and I wanted to live in Paris and also I wanted to eat some food. So, that was the beginning of my journey as a singer. I left for Paris.
But I came back a few months later, because I had not earned the luxury life I was living. It felt wrong. They were good people. But I wanted to write my own songs and be a musician, not a puppet. I needed to go back home and learn to play guitar, and that is exactly what I did. And the rest is history.
So, you are probably all wondering why I am telling you this story. There is a connection. Because none of this would have happened, could have 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. And I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Long live the queen.
Another anecdote I would like to share: In 1984, this is where the first VMAs were, in this very building. I performed at this show. I sang “Like a Virgin” at the top of a cake. On the way down, I lost a shoe, and then I was rolling on the floor. I tried to make it look like it was part of the choreography, looking for the missing stiletto. And my dress flew up and my butt was exposed, and oh my God, quelle horreur. After the show, my manager said my career was over. LOL.
So I would now like to present the nominees for the video of the year.”
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