Madonna has come under fire for her speech about Aretha Franklin during the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards on Monday night for "making it about herself."
The iconic hitmaker was clad in black and was one of many fellow performers who wanted to pay homage to the Queen of Soul, but her speech has since been condemned for being self-indulgent.
Franklin, who passed away on Thursday after an unsuccessful battle against pancreatic cancer, was praised by Madonna as one of her earliest inspirations when she first arrived in New York as an aspiring dancer.
"Aretha Louise Franklin changed the course of my life," she said. "I left Detroit when I was 18, $35 in my pocket. My dream was to make it as a professional dancer. After years of struggling and being broke, I decided to go to auditions for musical theater."
She continued. "I had no training or dreams of ever becoming a singer but I went for it. I got cut and rejected from every audition - not tall enough, not blend-in enough, not 12-octave-range enough, not pretty enough. Not enough," she said.
"And then one day a French disco sensation was looking for backup singers and dancers for his world tour. I thought, 'Why not? The worst that can happen is I can go back to getting robbed, held at gunpoint and being mistaken for a prostitute in my third-floor walk-up that was also a crackhouse.' That's right, I'm a Rebel Heart."
"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."
Rambling on about herself for an extreme amount of time, the American Pie singer eventually got back on track. "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 rounded off the long-winded speech by 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."
Despite her seeming self-awareness at the speech coming across as all about her, people still vented their wrath (as always) on social media.
ESPN's Katie Nolan even tweeted: "Does Madonna know Madonna didn't die?"
However, the Scottish comedian Limmy appeared to take a different view of the speech, tweeting, "Madonna was right to make her Aretha Franklin tribute all about Madonna. I like Aretha, but more people know and respect Madonna, she is a global star. Lot of #VMAs viewers will now be introduced to Aretha via Madge."
What are your thoughts? Did Madonna disrespect Franklin by going off on a tangent about her own life?
Or was it actually a valid story about how the Queen of Soul influenced her drive and ambition?
As always, let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.