Aretha Franklin More Annoyed With Grammy Writers Than We Are

Feb 13th, 2008 // 22 Comments

AP080210056992.jpgThose of you watching the Grammy telecast on Sunday night may remember the middle-school-caliber speech Beyonce gave as an introduction to Tina Turner, where she ran down all the icons of the past who she wanted to be like before instructing the audience to get on their feet* for Turner, who she referred to as “the Queen.” Well, Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin–lumped in as one of the “historical women” who didn’t quite measure up to Turner for whatever reason–was not happy with the slight, going so far as to issue a statement: “I am not sure of whose toes I may have stepped on or whose ego I may have bruised between the Grammy writers and Beyoncé, however I dismissed it as a cheap shot for controversy. In addition to that, I thank the Grammys and the voting academy for my 20th Grammy and love to Beyoncé anyway.” I seriously doubt that anyone else saw Beyonce’s coronation of Turner as a “cheap shot” (I saw of it as yet another indication that the show’s writers were clearly scrambling for last minute material), but judge for yourself with the YouTube of the performance–and the cringeworthy text of Beyonce’s intro–after the jump.

“Sarah Vaughn, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan … historical women who have performed on this very stage. When I was a little girl I dreamed of being on this stage. But I knew I needed all the right elements. Like the beat of Donna Summer, the spirit of Mahalia Jackson, the jazz of Ella, or Nancy–band, gimme some! (“jazzy” bit of “Deja Vu” plays) Lena Horne, Anita Baker, Diana Ross, Gladys, Janet, and the beautiful melodies of Whitney. The legacy they have bestowed are simply irreplaceable.

“But there is one legend who has the essence of all of these things. The glamour. The soul. The passion.
The strength. The talent. Ladies and gentlemen, stand on your feet and give it up for the Queen.”

Aretha at Grammys: Not Feeling The R-E-S-P-E-C-T [People]
[Photo: AP]

* B really likes instructing people to stand up–a Destiny’s Child show a few years back was marked by her telling us to “Get up for God.” Perhaps she was a second-grade teacher in a previous life?


  1. Christian John

    Aretha is an amazing talent – that is clear – but her ego needs a healthy adjustment. The fact that she’s getting upset over a stupid monologue shows just how insecure she is. This almost a moot point because Tina and Aretha are appples and oranges anyway. I’m not a Beyonce fan by any means but it seems like she owes more to Tina (in terms of spectacle, NOT vocal talent) than Aretha anyway.

  2. Chris N.

    It was the “beautiful melodies of Whitney” part that threw me. Just sounded odd.

  3. Maura Johnston

    @Chris N.: I’m guessing that was a Clive-mandated line.

  4. Aleb

    @Maura Johnston: I think it was. I totally expected a part about Leona Lewis too.

    Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the list of Beyoncé’s influences shows a bit of arrogance on her part? Or was it just a way to give people the illusion that she actually has a personality?

  5. Maura Johnston

    @Aleb: To me it’s not as offensive as Clive’s constant attempts to elevate Alicia Keys to the pantheon of legends, but maybe that’s because I’ve been weary of her “omg prodigy!!” push since Diary.

  6. Anonymous

    Am I the only one who was horrified that, after listing all those ‘influences’, B busted out a “jazzed-up” version of the lyrically incompetent “Deja Vu”?!

    I can’t imagine any of the afore-mentioned ladies of song would have attached themselves, in any way, to that craptastic tune.

  7. Aleb

    @Maura Johnston: I think “Diary” is a pretty good album. I already suspected she had not much substance though, and “As I Am” revealed just that.

    She’s desperately trying to sound classic, thinking that the whole world is gonna believe she’s good just because, you know, she can play an instrument and she dueted with Frank Sinatra, OMG!

    Problem is, the world is buying it, and that’s really frustrating…

  8. GhostOfDuane

    Let’s be honest, Tina Turner, Beyonce, Whitney, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson… Lump em together and they don’t equal one Aretha. (Note: this is not a fat joke). I would know; my ghost played with her often (see her splendid rendition of The Weight).

  9. Rob Murphy

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the name-drop for “Irreplaceable”, which leapt off the stage for me on Sunday nite.

  10. Thierry

    @Aleb: @Maura Johnston: I realized yesterday that Alicia Keys=the female John Mayer. With less personality (wait – would that make her the female John Legend instead?).

    Think about it: both are reasonably talented musicians, both appeal to teens and boomers, both are seen as part of “classic” lineage (Marvin, Donny, Oleta for Keys, James Taylor and Sting for Mayer), both are utterly boring and unoriginal songwriters (in Mayer’s case, throw in loads of second-hand SRV and Clapton guitar licks).

  11. Anonymous

    @DHMBIB: Hopefully this means we’ve all been able to pick every last scrap of that song from our respective brains and sent it packing…that’s right, “Irreplacable”, pack all that shit you own in that box to the left, to the left

  12. PrinceHal

    @DHMBIB: Somehow I still find John Mayer to be the more insufferable of the two. I don’t know if it’s his massive smug emissions or his “I’m-the-sensitive-pop-acoustic-guy-wait-no-I’m-totally-a-legit-musician-I have-a-Trio!!!” career arc. And a thousand dittos on those reheated SRV/Clapton licks. Mayer’s like the dude working at the guitar shop who says “Let me show you how this axe handles” and then noodles flashily up and down the pentatonic scale.

  13. lucasg

    quite simply, you DO NOT fuck with aretha franklin. period. she has certainly earned the right to any ego she might have. if she wants to wear a fur coat to a PETA rally, that should be cool with everyone involved. aretha franklin is a national treasure. if she comes in to your house and poops on the rug, you just smile and take it.

  14. Chris Molanphy

    1. The mistake was using the word “Queen” at all. That word is practically trademarked at this point. Any other word, she probably would’ve gotten away with that intro.

    2. However annoying her packaging and Clive are, Alicia Keys will remain fundamentally all right with me (and way, way better than John Mayer) so long as she comes up with at least one better-than-most-of-the-radio track per album. However meh the Diary and As I Am albums are as a whole, I’d say her streak (“Fallin’,” “You Don’t Know My Name,” “No One”) is pretty much unblemished at this point.

  15. Anonymous

    Madison Bumblebees trombone shout choir during Aretha’s gospel medley >>>>> anything I’ve seen from the Grammys so far.

  16. DaeSu

    @lucasg: Splendidly said! If Aretha’s career had ended after “I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You,” she would still be the undisputed Queen of Soul.

  17. Anonymous

    Beyonce is so shallow intercourse is prohibited on grounds that serious injury could occur poolside… Seriously, that self-serving list of divas is interesting but it says more about Beyonce’s obsessive competitive streak. She is not very bright and a real show pony. What she lacks is an identity or any true genius. Every one of the women she mentioned have that which Beyonce lacks- at this point in her career.
    Very talented but I can’t get register a real presence yet. She reminds me of a showy athlete/cheerleader but she has yet to jolt a single emotion out of me.
    Now for Aretha, I love the Queen but that woman is so fat she looks like she ate the royal family of Tonga. I have a difficult time respecting someone that lays around watching television all day gorging herself on processed food. She had every right to have issue with Beyonce being such a vapid little show boat. But where does she get off disrespecting Tina Turner? SInce when was there only one Queen? That whole show bored the hell out of me. The world has gone to hell in a hand basket and our artists lack the empathy and compassion to so much as sing a single note for the people caught up in all this mess. Makes me want to hollah

  18. IamnotStarJones

    I’m with Aretha Franklin on this on being the Queen of Soul and on saying something about it. Respect must be paid to the Queen.

  19. Anonymous

    Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin are not in the same category….I have seen both of them on stage and believe me Tina Turner is a QUEEN, greatest performer of all time and Classy…and you understand the words when she sing…Aretha is a screamer and Patti Label and Co.. Aretha pls see a doctor, you are not looking well..

  20. Anonymous

    Aretha may be considered the queen of soul to many but she needs to show Tina more respect. Tina has been known as the queen of rock & in many cases the queen of many styles so what was Aretha’s problem with Beyonce acknowledging that? It was childish & only highlights her insecurity. Tina sells out more stadiums & arena’s than any other female artist (except Madonna) & people travel far & wide, spending tons of money just to see her live. Aretha can have her title queen of soul but she needs to realise she is not the only queen out there & NO ONE called Tina the queen of soul, they called her THE QUEEN which, given how verstatile Tina is with musical styles, I think is very fitting. She is not just the queen of soul…there are kings & queens & then there is Tina Turner standing tall above them all & if u don’t believe that then just check the world records for concert attendance for a female artist. In addition, Tina doesn’t even have an ego about this & is very humble. You’d never have heard her kicking up if it had been Aretha who Beyonce had hailed THE QUEEN. And that is how a true queen should be – graceful.

  21. Anonymous


    Sounds like yr ego is just as big & deluded as Aretha’s! She is not the only queen out there ya know. She needs to show the queen of rock (Tina) more respect & stop being so silly & childish.

  22. You are wrong — there's no Tina Turner or Beyonce without Aretha. Sorry loser.

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