In a 10-minute speech at the end of the almost three-hour ceremony, Madonna recalled her early days as an aspiring singer and dancer, including one audition where she performed an a cappella version of Franklin’s iconic “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
“None of this would have happened without our lady of soul,” Madonna said. “She led me to where I am today and I know she influenced so many people in this room tonight. I want to thank you Aretha for empowering all of us. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Long live the queen.”
MTV also played a brief clip of Franklin from early in her career.
Viewers took to Twitter to criticize Madonna and MTV for the speech, saying it was self-indulgent and did not focus enough on Franklin.
“The Aretha Franklin tribute is Madonna talking about herself at great length?” author Michael Arceneaux tweeted.
Her death last week brought tributes ranging from Elton John to Carole King, Barbara Streisand and Lionel Richie, as well as former President Barack Obama.