The Queen of Pop was accused of making the tribute all about herself
She credited Franklin’s song R.E.S.P.E.C.T with helping her launch her own musical career, telling the crowd: “None of this would have happened, could have happened without our lady of soul.”
The Vogue singer recalled the time she was living in Detroit with “35 dollars in my pocket” and was repeatedly rejected from auditions for “not being pretty enough”.
She said she sang Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman during an audition as a backing dancer which led to her going to Paris and kicking off her musical career.
“Thank you Aretha for empowering all of us,” she finished. “Our R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Long live the queen.”
But the tribute was blasted online with many accusing Madonna of being self-indulgent while others called for a public apology.
One Twitter user posted: “You do not disrespect an ICON like that. This is a jovial kiki about Madonna’s broken a** journey. You honour a legend by telling their story or SHUT UP. The AUDACITY.”
Another posted: “Travis Scott gave a better Aretha Franklin Tribute than Madonna and All he said was RIP Aretha Franklin. #VMAs.”
A third wrote: “Madonna gave herself a tribute featuring Aretha.”
Franklin died, aged 76, after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancerat her home in Detroit last week.
Tributes echoed around the world as musicians, former Presidents and fans paid their respects to the Queen of Soul.
Her family confirmed a public viewing funeral will take place on 28 and 29 August at Detroit’s Charles H Wright Museum of African American History.
She will then be laid to rest at a private service at the Greater Grace Temple in her hometown of Detroit.