Franklin died last week at age 76 after a historic career, and viewers of the VMAs were anticipating how the awards show would honor a woman that paved the way for so many pop, R&B and soul vocalists around the world.
Madonna was chosen to head up the tribute, though some fans felt as though the 60-year-old “Material Girl” singer made it all about herself. Taking to the stage as an image of Franklin was projected on the screen behind her, Madonna told a lengthy, at times rambling, story, mostly about her own journey.
"Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life. I left Detroit when I was 18. Thirty-five dollars in my pocket. My dream was to make it as a professional dancer," she began, going into a lengthy tale about how she worked her way to the top.
It wasn't until the end of her speech that she referenced Franklin again. "So, you are probably all wondering why I am telling you this story. There is a reason, because none of this would have happened, could have happened, without our lady of soul," she concluded. "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."
It didn’t take long for the Internet to react, upset that Madonna had taken up so much time with her own story. Many felt that Franklin was only honored when her hit song, “Respect,” played during award show's closing credits.
Here's a few of the reactions to Madonna’s tribute to Franklin:
As a lifelong Madonna fan it pains me to say this...but this is what happens when you don't have anyone in your life who tells you that you shouldn't do something or tells you that you're acting out of control.
Just days prior to the VMAs, ET spoke with the executive producers of the show, who said they planned to honor Franklin in a "big way," but confessed that they were still "scrambling" to figure out what they wanted to do.
"We're definitely going to honor her," Jesse Ignjatovic, co-founder of the production company Den of Thieves and executive producer of the VMAs, said at the time. "We're talking about what that is still. We're still working it through. Obviously it's Aretha Franklin and we want to get it right and honor her in the best and biggest possible way."
VMAs executive producer Bruce Gillmer added, "[We're] trying to figure out how to put something together that feels right and fitting. We're scrambling, but we're focused on it, without question."
For more shady, awkward, and exciting moments from this year’s VMAs, watch the clip below: