Weirdly enough, last night at the 2018 VMAs, MTV chose Madonna (out of all people) to tribute the late “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, who passed away last Thursday (Aug 16).
Madonna may have mentioned Franklin’s name once or twice in the entire 6-minute speech, which rambled on and on about how she performed the Carol King/Franklin hit “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” for an audition which ultimately led to her success. The rest of her speech was about herself, her career, basically, her life story.
“So I showed up for 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,” she continued.
“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.’ Two French guys nodded at me. I said, ‘You know, by Aretha Franklin.’
“They looked over at the pianist, he shook his head. ‘I don’t need sheet music,’ I said, ‘I know every word. I know the song by heart, I will sing it a cappella.’ I could see that they did not take me seriously — and why should they? Some skinny-ass white girl is going to come up here and belt out a song by one of the greatest soul singers that ever lived? And a cappella … I said, ‘Bitch, I’m Madonna.’ No, I didn’t, I didn’t say that. ‘Cause I wasn’t Madonna yet. I don’t know who I was. I don’t know what I said, I don’t know what came over me.”
She eventually wrapped things up, saying, “So you’re probably all wondering why I’m telling you this story. There’s a connection, because none of this would’ve happened — could’ve 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, 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.”
Many people voiced their dissatisfaction with the “tribute” on Twitter (and rightfully so):
Very lazy and tone deaf on MTV’s part to get Madonna to do the tribute in the first place! Surely the Soul Train Awards and next year’s BET Awards will make up for the foolishness.