Adele’s night at the 2017 Grammys will likely be remembered for her sweep of the top awards as well as for her botched tribute to the late George Michael, in which she was forced to stop and restart her performance of “Fastlove” after falling out of sync with the backing music. Though she eventually finished the song to resounding applause, the tribute was an awkward one for several reasons. For example: Why honor a gregarious singer like George Michael with a somber, joyless, and entirely dance-free performance?
As it turns out, the original plans for the segment were actually quite a bit different — and a lot more fun, by the sound of it. Grammy executive producer Ken Ehrlich informed Billboard that plans were in place for Beyoncé, Rihanna, and host James Corden to join Adele and perform a mash-up of some of Michael’s greatest hits, including “Freedom” and “One More Try”.
The all-star mash-up was originally suggested by Michael Lippman, Michael’s longtime manager, but it was scrapped when it became evident “how passionate Adele was” about her own plans for the segment. “She had a vision for what she wanted to do with it,” Ehrlich explains.
In a backstage interview following the performance, Adele commented on her connection to Michael:
“I found him to be one of the truest icons, because a lot of the time, with people who are at that globally known and famous, there tends to be… not a fakeness in a bad way, but they put on this massive bravado and alter-ego to protect themselves. And he was very British. No matter where his career or love life took him, he always remained true to Britain and they gave him a hard f—ing time a lot of the time, but he still stayed loyal until the very end. … I relate to that — no matter how much I try to escape Britain sometimes, my roots are there. I took great comfort in him — and the bigger my career got, in trying to remain myself.”
That’s nice and all, but it’s hard not to feel like the Grammys were robbed of a much better, much more memorable tribute (Beyoncé did slay in her solo performance, after all). Oh well, at least Adele was thoughtful enough to give Beyoncé a big-time shoutout in her acceptance speech for Album of the Year.
Revisit Adele’s tribute performance below: