Madonna & Beyoncé’s Quiet Friendship: An Exhaustive History

Madonna and Beyonce together as friends.
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Roc Nation

Beyoncé opted out of her traditional surprise drop for Renaissance, but she still had one major bombshell for fans: last week, she unveiled a special remix of “Break My Soul” featuring interpolations of Madonna’s legendary “Vogue.” While Beyoncé sings on the track’s opening, “I, mother of my house, vow, to keep my f–ing mouth to myself,” we all know by now that’s something Madonna could never promise. The Queen of Pop doesn’t hold tongue and fake affection, and she certainly doesn’t trust her legacy to just anyone. Allowing another singer to reinterpret one of her definitive songs is a major sign of respect.

After the release, Madonna took to Instagram to share photos of the notes and flowers Beyoncé had sent her. “You Are Masterpiece Genius. Thank You For Allowing Me To Sing In Your Song And Thank You For Naming The Remix!!!!," Bey wrote on the card. (So, it turns out, Madonna herself suggested the title “The Queens Remix.”) Clearly, the coronated Queen of Pop doesn’t recognize any old singer as another royal.

While the pair haven’t flaunted their relationship often in public, there’s actually a long history of both friendship and mutual respect between Madonna and Beyoncé.

Coming Together for Oprah

Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images

While we’re not sure when Beyoncé and Madonna first met face-to-face (Bey was in the audience for that famous 2003 VMAs performance with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, after all), the first time they were spotted on stage together was for Oprah. For the final episodes of her talk show in 2011, Oprah held a massive event at Chicago’s United Center. Madonna surprised her with a speech, while Beyoncé did a graduation-themed performance of “Run The World (Girls).” The two stars appeared side-by-side on stage at the very end, and looked rather chummy.

Madonna Stans at Beyoncé Concert and Anoints Her a Queen

While Beyoncé and Madonna attended several of the same events and awards shows over the years, the public didn’t really get a sense of how much of a Beyoncé Stan Madonna was until 2013. That year, she took her daughter, Mercy James, to one of the Brooklyn dates of The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour and promptly freaked out about it on Instagram. “Mrs. Carter crushes the BK with her bad ass show! Girls run the world!” Madonna wrote under one blurry photo of the show she snapped. She captioned another of Bey bending down to kiss Mercy on the forehead with, “Mercy James gets a big fat one from the Queen B!”

Beyoncé Credits Madonna With Inspiring Her New Career Direction

Just a few days later, Beyoncé screened her self-titled visual album at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The album marked a definitive turning point in Bey’s career, and one that she revealed was inspired by Madonna. “I felt like I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Madonna and be a powerhouse and have my own empire,” she reportedly told the crowd, “and show other women when you get to this point in your career, you don’t have to go sign with someone else and share your money and your success. You can do it yourself.”

She continued that train of thought in an interview with The Gentlewoman that same year. “I think about Madonna and how she took all of the great things she achieved and started the label and developed other artists. But there are not enough of those women.”

In that same video, she says her Life Is But a Dream documentary was inspired by Madonna’s own Truth or Dare. “It’s a different personality and a different approach, but we’re doing the same thing,” Bey said.

Some People Think Beyoncé’s “Haunted” Video was Inspired by “Justify My Love”

via Beyoncé/YouTube

Beyoncé herself has never confirmed as much, but when the visual for “Haunted” came out, several commenters compared it to Madonna’s infamously banned “Justify My Love” video. It’s certainly not the most direct of references, but both videos do involve the pop stars walking through a fancy hotel while witnessing all sorts of suggestive and sensual stuff as they walk by the rooms.

“Haunted” was directed by Jonas Åkerlund. He didn’t direct “Justify,” but his first big pop music video directing breakthrough was Madonna’s own “Ray of Light.” He’s continued to be one of the video directors of choice for both singers.

Madonna Declares Beyoncé Is Not Part of the Illuminati in Song Lyrics

Powerful celebrity friends don’t let powerful celebrity friends get accused of being part of the Illuminati. On the album track “Illuminati” from her 2014 album Rebel Heart, Madonna shouts out Beyoncé and Jay Z in the very first line of the song, stating they are not affiliated with the secret society. Other things that Madonna declares aren’t part of the Illuminati: the Pope, “Clinton or Obama,” Justin Bieber, “Prada or Gucci” triangles, and “Gaga.” What is the illuminati? “Everybody in this party.”

This was about a year before Beyoncé confirmed as much on “Formation” by declaring, “Y’all haters corny with that Illuminati mess.” So it’s safe to say they’re both on the same page.

Beyoncé Appears in the “Bitch I’m Madonna” Music Video

via Madonna/Vevo

Beyoncé dipped her toes into hyperpop on Renaissance with the A.G. Cook co-produced track “All Up in My Mind,” but it wasn’t necessarily her first connection to the genre. She made a cameo (via separately shot video appearance) in Madge’s 2015 “Bitch I’m Madonna” video, a sort of proto-hyperpop track that featured writing contribution from Cook’s frequent collaborator, the late musician Sophie. Appropriately, Beyoncé does a bit of light voguing in her cameo.

Madonna Says Beyoncé “Ticks All The Boxes”

Back in 2015, Entertainment Weekly let Bravo kingpin Andy Cohen guest edit an issue. Of course, he managed to snag an interview with Madonna herself, who used the opportunity to lavish praise on Bey.

“She’s a great performer and she puts on a show,” Madonna told Cohen. “She’s a professional, you know what I mean? She ticks all the boxes. She’s great live, and all the stuff around her, it’s complete entertainment...She gives it her all, so I appreciate that.”

Bey Catches Madonna in Concert

Two years after Madonna went to one of Beyoncé’s show, Bey returned the favor. She was spotted at the Los Angeles-area stop of The Rebel Heart Tour.

Some Light Gwyneth Paltrow-Related Gossip Reports

If you’re not aware that Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow used to be very public BFFs and then one day suddenly weren’t, we don’t have time to get into it all. You’d need an entire symposium on ’90s and early ’00s celebrity gossip to fully cover the topic (and even then, no one knows the real story to this day). Well, Beyoncé and husband Jay Z also used to be quit friendly with Gwyneth and her ex, Chris Martin. Back in 2015, there was a round of spurious rumors that the queen of Parkwood and the queen of Goop split up because Beyoncé had grown closer to Madonna.

As these sorts of things go, it appears it may have just been BS. Paltrow and Beyoncé continued to be publicly friendly for years afterwards (Paltrow was even there for Beyoncé’s Super Bowl show, where she performed alongside Martin).

Years of Attending the Same VIP Parties

Photo via RicardoTisci/IG

Beyoncé has mastered the art of going to VIP parties without paparazzi photos of her leaking, so we can’t be too sure what really went on inside these shindigs. But we can certainly find reports that Bey and Madge attended a lot of the same exclusive fetes over the years. They were both at The xx’s final show of a string of concerts in New York in 2014, Daft Punk’s Grammy’s after party that same year, and multiple Met Galas.

Madonna Has Also Turned Up to Support a Few Beyoncé-Related Efforts

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Roc Nation

When Beyoncé calls, Madonna tells her she’s there.

Madonna was one of the music superstars on stage in 2015 to support the launch of Jay Z’s streaming service, Tidal. Madonna also appeared at the 2013 “Chime For Change: The Sound of Change Live” concert at Twickenham Stadium in London—an event Beyoncé helped organize.

And, Finally, “The Queens Remix”

Beyoncé’s Renaissance sourced ample inspiration from the Ballroom scene, a subculture Madonna famously mined for her 1990 hit “Vogue.” While Madonna employed members of the community (one of whom, José Xtravaganza, just appeared on stage with her once again earlier this summer) her appropriation of the culture still remains much discussed. On Beyoncé’s reimagining of the song’s iconic spoken word verse, she replaces Madonna’s odes to the (mostly white) Hollywood stars of yore and replaces them with Black female musicians as well as lists the names of several actual Ballroom houses. It’s an ambitious re-imagination of the song, and one Madonna wouldn’t let just anyone attempt. It appears she’s happy with the results.

via @Madonna/IG