2018 mtv vmas

Madonna Pays Tribute to Madonna Paying Tribute to Aretha Franklin’s Influence on Madonna at the VMAs

We don’t presume to know what the late great Aretha Franklin would want from a tribute, but we do know one thing she enjoyed: beautiful gowns. So that’s strike one right there for Madonna, who delivered a surreally long, minutely detailed anecdote about a young Madonna auditioning with the Queen of Soul’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” whilst living in a crack den, a memory Aretha Franklin would surely cherish.

“Why not?,” Madonna recalled of her decision to audition. “The worst that could 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.” A man in the audience laughs, presumably out of nervousness.

Despite being a “skinny-ass white girl,” Madonna went on to nail that audition while drenched in “nerve sweat,” so, in a sense, Aretha Franklin was tangentially related to her success. This, and a shout-out from Travis Scott, comprised the entirety of the 2018 MTV VMAs’ tribute to Franklin, who died last week at the age of 76. Oh, well, and they played “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” over the show’s final credits and showed her photo.

What Was That Madonna VMAs Aretha Franklin Tribute?