Last year, Adele’s live Grammys performance was notoriously derailed by technical difficulties and the challenge of singing live in a sound-rich environment.
When a similar fate threatened her this year, however, she wasn’t having it — because the technical difficulties came during her tribute to the late George Michael.
“I can’t mess this up for him,” Adele blurted about a minute into the tribute, a slow rendition of Michael’s song “Fastlove.” Adele’s attempt to reimagine the tune as an Adele-ish torch ballad was waylaid by sound problems similar to the ones the singer experienced at the 2016 Grammys, when she encountered a glitchy sound feed, a faulty microphone, and audibly out-of-tune piano keys.
But the chanteuse clearly wasn’t about to let disaster befall her in the middle of an emotional tribute to the British pop legend. As Michael’s image filled the screen behind her, she went further and further off-key until she finally aborted the performance and demanded to restart the number.
“I can’t do it again like last year,” she said, apologizing profusely and repeatedly to the audience for restarting the number — and for swearing briefly in a moment censored by CBS. Though Adele seemed shaken, the audience was supportive, and after she started over, she turned the cover into a gorgeously moving rendition of one of Michael’s most revealing songs.
The crowd responded with a lengthy ovation. Some people in the audience cried. Adele cried. You cried.
Grammys host James Corden had prefaced Adele’s tribute by noting that Michael had “an incredible ability to make you feel that whatever you were feeling, you weren’t alone.” Adele’s determination to do justice to Michael’s artistry was a reminder of just how much Michael’s death late last year has impacted us all.