Hello From the Other Side – Lessons from Grammy Adele

I didn’t watch the Grammys.  I never watch the Grammys.  I vaguely remember doing laundry last night or dishes or something equally scintillating instead of watching the Grammys.

The internet was all abuzz this morning with rumors of Adele making hash of a George Michael tune, swearing, and then demanding a redo.  Naturally, curiosity won, and I found the full performance on YouTube.

Here’s what happened: Adele reconfigured George Michael’s “Fastlove” (medium tempo dance tune with driving electronic backbeat) into a moody orchestral tribute.  She started the performance way flat.  I’m guessing she couldn’t hear the sparse accompaniment well enough to accurately gauge her pitch.  Monitor issues perhaps?  And because she doesn’t CHEAT and use Auto-Tune, well, she was super flat.  About a minute in, she stopped, apologized profusely, swore, apologized some more, and asked to start again, stating, “I can’t mess this up for him [George Michael].”  She started over and delivered a lovely, moving, still slightly pitchy performance.

It’s nice of Adele to offer a teachable moment on live television in front of 25 million people.  So what can we learn?

1) People screw up all the time.  Even fancy pop stars.  One might think that tons of money and months of planning and 8926 sound checks might remove some of the error-prone variables of a massive awards show like the Grammys.  But, stuff happens.  Repeatedly.  Last year a mic fell into the piano during Adele’s “All I Ask” and apparently caused pitch troubles.  Next year, who know.  We have to do what we can to prevent and mitigate potential damage and then we carry on.

2) Adele took responsibility, apologized, and politely asked to start again.  She set a fine example of Grace Under Extreme Pressure.

3) She could have simply continued the tune, in the style of the-show-must-go-on.  Chances are good that the vast majority of television viewers and a fair number of the musicians in the audience wouldn’t have noticed.  I think if she’d been performing her own tune, she likely would’ve persisted.  But it was a song she chose to honor George Michael and she would’ve kicked herself later if she hadn’t stopped.  Our lesson is to honor our sense of integrity, to do what’s right even if we risk personal embarrassment.

4) She was rewarded with a standing ovation at the end of the second take.  Pay attention to the standing ovation and ignore the trolls.

5) If you’re in the metaphorical audience, join the standing ovation.  Next time you could be the one onstage making the mistake.

6) Perspective is everything – part one.  I’m singing “At Last” in front of maybe 80 people on Valentine’s Day at a community band concert.  I always get a little nervous before performances.  What if I forget the words?  What if I sound flat?  What if the improvised bits don’t groove?  Turns out, it doesn’t matter.  I’ll do the best I can.  That’s it.  Adele screwed up in front of 25 million people and her life will go on.  Not only will it go on, but folks were quite impressed with how she handled the whole (tiny) debacle.

7) Perspective is everything – part two.  Beyoncé performed last night as well.  At one point, the pregnant-with-twins Bey sat in a chair that tipped backwards precariously over the edge of the stage.  Nothing went wrong.  Thank goodness.


Rumor has it that Bruno Mars did a real swell Prince tribute at the Grammys.  South High peeps, pay particular attention to the maestro on the drums in today’s  Musical Moment.


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2 Responses to Hello From the Other Side – Lessons from Grammy Adele

  1. Melanie says:

    This is great…I did the same as you, caught it the next morning.

    I think I learned 2 things:
    1. This is the second time Adele has had issues at the Grammys. It makes me realize that probably not one outside Adele is singing “naturally.”
    2. If you earnest and authentic, people will adore you, even if you drop an occasional f-bomb.

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