2018 VMAs: Madonna Paid Homage to Herself During Her Aretha Franklin Tribute

Source: MTV

UPDATE: Madonna has written a statement on her tribute speech to Aretha Franklin.

“And just to clarify: 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! 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!”

Read the original story below.

What did we just watch?

The 2018 MTV Video Music Awards were broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Monday night (August 20th).

It was one of the strangest VMAs in years. One, that for the most part, put hip-hop and black culture to the back burner.  

HEAR: From Yasiin Bey To Outkast: 10 Rap Songs That Sampled Aretha Franklin

At times it felt like we were watching an #AllMusicMatters awards show. Sure, Nicki Minaj and Travis Scott performed; Cardi B got some quality screen time; and Ja Rule came out during Jennifer Lopez’ Video Vanguard Award performance; and Logic made the only political statement of the night during his saccharine performance. But the show was more a dedication to classic pop, rather than the number one genre in music.

The show was really centered around pop stars like Camila Cabello — who beat out artists like Drake and JAY-Z and Beyonce to win Video of the Year — Shawn Mendes, Panic! at the Disco, and Hayley Kiyoko.

The strangest moment, however, was the Aretha Franklin dedication. Or the lack of it. For a majority of the show, Franklin wasn’t addressed. The only time came when Travis Scott shouted her out during his performance.

READ: Fox News Uses Photo Of Patti LaBelle In Aretha Franklin Tribute

Finally, near the end of show, there was montage of the singer. And then Madonna gave a baffling speech, where instead of talking about Franklin, she just rambled about herself.

She started out by saying “Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life.” And then she told the story of how she came from Detroit to New York early in her career. After telling this story about herself she eventually got back to Aretha, but only talking about how she influenced her career, saying:

“None of this could have happened, would have happened, without this lady of soul…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.”

Scroll down to see a clip of the performances, and some of the best reactions to Madonna’s moment.

Dimas Sanfiorenzo

Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes in coverage centered around music, pop culture, and politics. Email:

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Dimas Sanfiorenzo

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