The organisers of the MTV Video Music Awards only had a few days to come up with a tribute to music icon Aretha Franklin.
The ’Respect’legend, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 76, is universally recognised as one of the all-time greats and was ranked by Rolling Stone as the No. 1 greatest singer of all time.
No pressure then.
In the end, the task fell to Madonna to deliver a fitting memorial at yesterday’s ceremony. Choosing Madonna, herself an industry powerhouse and a woman of incredible success, made pretty good sense.
But, judging from the reaction online, the tribute hasn’t gone down well – at all.
Here’s a snippet from her speech, which fans say focused way too much on herself:
Madonna, who is still heroically sticking with that British accent *winces*, added:
Here’s a (cut-down) transcript of Madonna’s remarks, via Harper’s Bazaar:
Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life. I left Detroit when I was 18. Thirty-five dollars 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 ever ever becoming a singer, but I went for it.
I got cut, and rejected from every audition. Not tall enough. Not blend-in enough, not 12-octave-range enough, not pretty enough, not enough, enough. And then one day, a French disco sensation was looking for backup singers and dancers for his world tour. I thought, ‘Why not? 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.’ That’s right, I’m a rebel heart.
So I showed up to 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 me 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.”
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 lead 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. And I performed at this show. I sang “Like a Virgin” at the top of a cake. And on my way down, I lost a shoe, and I was rolling on the floor and trying to make it look like it was part of the choreography, looking for the missing stilleto, and my dress flew up, and my butt was exposed, and oh my God, quelle horror. 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.
Yup, this was Madonna’s tribute to Aretha, you know, the music icon who died.
Oh dear, Madge…
Twitter was immediately on fire with thoughts on how Madge did - and here are some of those reactions:
And when it comes to poorly-received award show tributes to music legends, Madonna has form… *cough* Michael Jackson *cough* Prince *cough*
We know what Madonna was trying to do here: make the tribute more interesting by making it feel personal and relatable. Sadly, however, it just didn’t work out this time.
Fear not though, Madonna! We’re sure you’ll get another shot at remembering your amazing career - sorry - some other music icon at another award show soon enough.