She’s always been divisive, with as many detractors as fans. But last night, Madonna may just have stepped into unanimous criticism, for the very first time.
Last night’s VMAs fell just four days after the passing of arguably music’s greatest remaining legend, Aretha Franklin. She was a talent so monumental it really feels impossible that she is no longer with us.
So of course, a VMAs tribute to the late musician was in order. And since another living legend—Madonna, who turned 60 the same day as Aretha’s passing—was already on hand to deliver the Video of the Year award, the producers tapped the Queen of Pop to honor the Queen of Soul.
It went … maybe not according to plan?
Launching into a long-winded diatribe, not about Aretha, but about her own rise to stardom, she described—at length–how her first big audition in the entertainment industry was a try-out for a musical theater show. “Why not?” she told the audience. “The worst that can happen is I can 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.”
When the producers she auditioned for took her by surprise by asking her to sing on the spot, she blurted out Aretha’s “Natural Woman,” and sang it a capella. 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. Anyway God bless Aretha, may she rest!
What on Earth does any of this have to do with the life and passing of one of the greatest musical legends of all time?
“There is a connection!” Madonna told the audience. “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. I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”
That’s right everyone: without Aretha, there’d be no Madonna. What a legacy!
As you might expect, the internet was just simply not having this.
Her outfit didn’t go over well either.
The real question is, why was Madonna tapped for this tribute in the first place?
I’ve been a Madonna fan since I was about seven, like all gay men of a certain age are required to be (it’s written in the by-laws). But even the most oblivious among us know by now that there are precisely zero persons in Madonna’s life telling her “GIRL. NO.” about literally anything.
And when it comes to tributes, we’ve already learned this the hard way when she paid homage to Michael Jackson in 2009 and Prince in 2016.
So TV producers? Maybe stop giving her this job! We can’t all be good at everything.