Adele stopped and restarted an emotional tribute to George Michael at the Grammys on Sunday night after a performance issue, calling back to her technical difficulties during last year’s ceremony.
“I know it’s live TV … I’m sorry for swearing, and I’m sorry for starting again,” Adele said on Sunday after abruptly stopping her cover of the George Michael song “Fastlove.” She paused and said, “I can’t do it like I did it last year,” referencing her 2016 Grammys performance during which her audio was off.
Appearing on stage in an all-black ensemble and cross earrings that matched Michael’s famed ones, Adele performed the 1996 track in front of a montage of photos and videos of Michael dancing and performing throughout his career. After starting over, the performance was stirring and backed by a full orchestra. During the final notes, Adele broke down into tears and was greeted with moving responses from the members of the crowd, including Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna. The social media response to Adele was supportive as well.
Much of the tribute was a surprise since although the Recording Academy announced a segment honoring Michael ahead of time, they did not share which artists would participate ahead of the telecast.
Michael was no stranger to the Grammys during his lifetime, winning one Best R&B Performance award for his 1987 duet with Aretha Franklin, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” and one Album of the Year award for his acclaimed 1987 solo debut Faith. He also received six other nominations over the years.