Adele had already opened the Grammys with her multinominated song “Hello,” but her biggest performance of the night, certainly, was her tribute to pop legend George Michael.
Her downtempo performance of Michael’s 1996 single “Fastlove,” with an orchestral arrangement from Hans Zimmer, was abruptly cut short, however, after she paused, swore into the microphone, and asked the show’s producers to give her a complete do-over. “I’m sorry. I know it’s live TV,” she said for all to hear. “But this is too important.”
And so Adele took “Fastlove” once again from the top, smoothly going through Michael’s lyrics as she fought back tears. The circumstances—Adele’s stumble, Zimmer’s oddly mournful arrangement—made for a strange tribute, one that soon drew more attention to the person giving it than to the person receiving it. (The audience cheering Adele on didn’t help in that regard.) Nonetheless, Adele’s sensitive rendition did justice to Michael’s soulful spirit, songwriting chops, and vocal skills. And her palpable desire to do the icon justice provided a very human reminder of how large his legacy looms.