It could have been a special moment, as one female icon paid tribute to one of the legendary trailblazers who opened doors for her throughout a long and legendary career. Instead, it was a self-indulgent mess that was all about Madonna honoring Madonna and talking about how great Madonna is, and how Madonna got started and oh, by the way, she liked Aretha Franklin.
Had this been a tribute to Madonna, the story would have been perfectly fine, but why is it that we now know all about Madonna struggling to make it as a dancer, getting rejected, living a rough life in Detroit and finally getting a break. Oh, and she turned down that offer to learn guitar and perfect her craft.
This is all very interesting information, but what the hell does it have to do with the Queen of Soul? Yes, Madonna is from Detroit, but she didn't even mention that Aretha is from there as well, probably because it would have distracted from talking about Madonna.
"Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life," Madonna said, to kick off her tribute. It would be more than a minute before Aretha's name came up again, as Madonna talked about how she sang "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at an audition.
"I could see that they did not take me seriously and why should they?" Madonna overshared. "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."
So that's about Madonna, too. She had the audacity to sing an Aretha song. She had the guts. How did she find the courage? "Bitch, I'm Madonna!" she said.
"So you're probably all wondering why I'm telling you this story; there is a connection," Madonna promised. "Because none of this would have happened, could of happened, without our lady of soul. She lead to me to where I am today and I know she influenced 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. Love live the queen."
And that's about all we got as far as actual tribute to Aretha Franklin. In fact, Madonna then moved on to talking about her 1984 performance of "Like a Virgin" on the VMAs, while that image of Aretha kept on staring down at her in silent disappointment for making a tribute all about herself.
Fans lit up Twitter, amused and disappointed all at once that the pop diva turned the only tribute to Aretha Franklin the show offered into a five-minute diatribe about her own greatness. The good news is that whenever Madonna passes away, MTV already has a tribute to her in the can. They can just replay this.
We've captured some of the best and funniest reactions to Madonna's tribute to Madonna, featuring Aretha Franklin, below.
Madonna presents an Aretha Franklin tribute by Madonna featuring Madonna with Madonna and Madonna as “Madonna”
Okay so Madonna talked about herself for five minutes during an Aretha tribute then proceeded it with a story about one of her solo performances. Where's the R-E-S-P-E-C-T? #VMAs pic.twitter.com/n6NAJahToU