Aretha Franklin to Prince: Madonna's History of Questionable Tributes

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Aretha Frankllin, Madonna, Prince
Dia Dipasupil/WireImage, Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Lester Cohen/WireImage

Madonna, the queen of questionable tributes?

When the singer took the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards Monday night, social media erupted with fans slamming her for her bizarre tribute to the legendary Aretha Franklin, who died last week at the age of 76 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Madonna seemed to only talk about herself in the speech, telling a long, drawn-out story about her early days as a struggling artist. It was only at the end that she (kinda) shifted the focus to Franklin, telling the crowd, "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 room tonight," Madonna continued. "I want to thank you, Aretha, for empowering all of us. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen."

Madonna honors Aretha Franklin at VMAs
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

The speech left many fans responding like this on Twitter:

On Tuesday, Madonna released a statement on social media, claiming that she was never asked to do a tribute to Franklin, but rather, just chosen to share a personal moment relating to her, which fans misunderstood. 

"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!" she Instagrammed alongside a picture of herself with Video of the Year winner Camila Cabello. "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."

"Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge," she continued. "I love Aretha! R.E.S.P.E.C.T. I Love Camila! I love my dress! AND. I love-L O V E!! ♥️ and there is nothing anyone can say or do that will change that. #vmas #postivevibes."

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Im with the Winner!! The beautiful @camila_cabello ! So proud of her! 🌈💕🎉. 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! 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. Unfortunately most people have short attention spans, and are so quick to judge. I love Aretha! R.E.S.P.E.C.T. 🙏🏼. I Love Camilla! Congrats! I LOVE my dress! AND. I love-L O V E!! ♥️ and there is nothing anyone can say or do that will change that. #vmas #postivevibes

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That got us thinking, and we remembered that this isn't actually the first time the 60-year-old singer gave a puzzling tribute to an artist at an awards show. At the Billboard Music Awards in 2016, many viewers were not impressed by her and Stevie Wonder's tribute to Prince, who died in April of that year. 

Even BET network slammed the singer via Twitter at the time, sharing a since-deleted clip of the Purple One's iconic symbol, accompanied with a message that read, "Yeah, we saw that. Don’t worry. We got you."

Madonna didn't take the insult lightly, however, later writing, "Anyone who wants to do a tribute to Prince is welcome to. Whatever your age gender or skin color. If you loved him and he inspired you then show it!!!! I love Prince 4 ever."

And the beginning of Madonna's tribute to the late Michael Jackson at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards seemed all too similar to the speech she gave in honor of Franklin on Monday. 

"OK, here we go again. Michael Jackson was born in August 1958. So was I," she said. "Michael Jackson grew up in the suburbs of the Midwest. So did I. Michael Jackson had eight brothers and sisters. So do I."

Hear more of the weirdest, shadiest and most memorable moments from the 2018 MTV VMAs in the video below.

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