Madonna is accused of delivering a self-indulgent tribute to the late Aretha Franklin during Monday night’s MTV Video Music Awards.
Before she presented the Video of the Year award, the Material Girl-- who turned 60 the same day Franklin died of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 16 -- took a moment to acknowledge the Queen of Soul’s recent passing.
But instead of addressing the 76-year-old’s historic career, many online critics grumbled that Madonna spent most of the speech talking about herself.
The “Like A Virgin” singer opened the segment by saying Franklin had “changed the course” of her life, and shared that when she was an aspiring singer and dancer she sang Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” acapella during an unsuccessful audition.
But much of the tribute involved Madonna talking about the early origins of her life and career. The singer 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.”
It didn’t take long before Madonna became a trending topic on Twitter, as the Internet called out the pop superstar for turning what was supposed to be a tribute to Franklin into a Madonna monologue.
“That was so so so so disrespectful,” wrote one user. “Aretha ain’t even put down her purse in heaven yet.”
Madonna did eventually get back on track to say that “Long live the queen.”
“So, you are probably all wondering why I am telling you this story. There is a connection,” she said.
“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.”
The day after the award show, Madonna took to Instagram to give an explanation for her "tribute" to Franklin, noting that it was not meant to be a tribute at all.
"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," the star wrote on Instagram. "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."
Madonna concluded noting that most people "have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge."