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Madonna kept talking about herself while paying ‘tribute’ to Aretha Franklin at the VMAs

Madonna was asked to give a tribute to late singer Aretha Franklin at Monday’s VMAs but she would not stop talking about herself.

music Updated: Aug 21, 2018 16:29 IST
Associated Press
Madonna,VMAs,Video Music AWards
Madonna poses in the press room at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall.(AFP)

The backlash was swift for Madonna’s rambling, egocentric tribute to Aretha Franklin at the MTV Video Music Awards, with media and Queen-of-Soul fans wondering why she got the gig in the first place.

Dressed in flowing black with grandiose flourishes of African jewelry, Madonna’s send-off came before she presented the video of the year award to Camila Cabello on Monday night. She spoke at length about her own start in the business and her own career before thanking Franklin for “empowering all of us. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”

2018 MTV Video Music Awards - Show - Radio City Music Hall, New York, U.S., August 20, 2018 - Madonna speaks during a tribute to the late singer Aretha Franklin. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (REUTERS)

Cabello then collected the biggest award of the night for her “Havana” video with a bow to Madonna, dedicating the trophy to, you guessed it, Madonna.

There was a short video of early Franklin that played before Madonna said that the icon who died Thursday “changed the course of my life,” and Franklin’s “Respect” played as the night’s closing credits rolled. But there was no live musical performance honouring the legend.

Camila Cabello, left, accepts the award for video of the year as presenter Madonna looks on at the MTV Video Music Awards. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Some accused Madonna, in her spiky silver headpiece, heavy necklaces and beaded bracelets, of cultural appropriation. Far more accused her of making the show’s only tribute to Franklin all about herself.

“I’m so lost,” radio host Charlamagne Tha God tweeted. “I thought Madonna was supposed to be paying homage to Aretha but all I heard was her paying homage to herself.”

After describing her teen exit from Detroit to make her name in show business, Madonna said at one point, “So, you are probably all wondering why I am telling you this story.”

Why, yes. Before she got to the point (she sang “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman” acapella at an audition of yore), Madonna meandered through references to Paris, poverty, guitar lessons and finally her backside hanging out at a VMAs show after breaking a stiletto.

“Does Madonna know Madonna didn’t die?” ESPN’s Katie Nolan tweeted.

Marc Snetiker of Entertainment Weekly described the speech on Twitter as “Madonna presents an Aretha Franklin tribute by Madonna featuring Madonna with Madonna and Madonna as ‘Madonna’.”

The response was not unlike that from some fans of Prince when Madonna donned a Purple Rain suit to honour him soon after his death, at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards.

The Madonna Twitter roasting included this from one angry Franklin fan: “Only madonna would tell her life story while honoring a dead Black Woman lmaooo.”

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First Published: Aug 21, 2018 16:17 IST