"Celebrating Franklin's legacy, Madonna delivered a speech about her personal connection to Franklin, explaining that she sang "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at the audition that initially launched her career.
During the tribute to Aretha, Madonna shared stories about her own life and rise to fame.
And on a night where she was supposed to pay tribute to Franklin, many felt that she pivoted so that it ended up being more of a Madonna tribute with a Franklin musical cameo.
Writer Marc Snetiker said: "Madonna presents an Aretha Franklin tribute by Madonna featuring Madonna with Madonna and Madonna as "Madonna".
"None of this would have happened, could have happened, without our lady of soul".
Madonna's tribute to Aretha Franklin at the MTV VMAs. I walked over and started. I panicked. I had overlooked this important part of the audition process.
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In the late 1960s, Franklin saw success with "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" and "Respect", an Otis Redding cover that quickly took on its own life as a No. 1 hit. A cappella? I said, "B-, I'm Madonna".
Following her performance, Lopez, 49, accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, and became emotional as she talked about her two children, Max and Emme, and partner Alex Rodriguez. To illustrate that point, I've bolded every instance in which Madonna references herself.
"I sang "Like a Virgin" at the top of a cake", she said. She didn't get the job, but the producers hired her for a different job, in Paris, which she did take, but then quit, and left Paris, because the timing was off, and she didn't deserve it yet, or something, I'm honestly not sure what she was on about and nobody else was either.
"I'm so lost", Charlamagne Tha God wrote on Twitter. "The rest is history".
Fair enough. Then she added something about short attention spans and how much she loves the much-criticized dress she wore: "Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge". And I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. "Long live the queen!" she said in probably the most on-topic thing during the "speech".
Others accused Madonna, who was wearing a black caftan and her hair in braids, of cultural appropriation.