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Madonna Defends Awkward Aretha Franklin VMA Speech: “I Did Not Intend to Do a Tribute to Her!”

Madonna posted a clarification to her Instagram page on Tuesday afternoon regarding her awkward tribute to the late Aretha Franklin during Monday night’s VMAs. The post was accompanied by a photo of Madge posing alongside Camilla Cabello after presenting the former Fifth Harmony member with the Video of the Year Award for her single “Havana.”

“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,” Madonna wrote in the IG caption. “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.”

Granted, Madonna was up on the stage for far longer than two minutes. More like 10.

Producers promised some sort of segment dedicated to the Queen of Soul, who died just four days before the awards, even if they still weren’t sure what it was going to be hours before the show.

“We’re definitely going to honor her,” Jesse Ignjatovic, executive producer of the VMAs, told Entertainment Tonight ahead of the live broadcast at Radio City Music Hall. “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.”

Another VMAs executive producer, Bruce Gilmer, told Entertainment Tonight that the production team was racing the clock to put together a worthy tribute.

“We’re definitely talking about it. Trying to figure out how to put something together that feels right and fitting,” Gilmer said. “We’re scrambling, but we’re focused on it, without question.”

It seems likely the producers weren’t able to pull together an elaborate memorial in such a short time frame and just asked Madonna to wing it, before learning some hard lessons about Madonna’s improv skills.

You can read Madonna’s entire statement below.

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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