This post is in response to the following article written by Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times:
(This is the first response piece I’ve written to an article, but I think I’m going to try to do this a little more).
Anyone that personally knows me knows that I am a huge fan of Adele. However, when it comes to reviews and award predictions, or news in general, you have to be impartial, and I strive for that in every single one of my posts. I may be a fan of someone, but I try to explain why I say certain things by backing them up with facts. So, bear in mind that my frustration and response from the above article does not come from a place of bias. My mom actually brought this to my attention, and upon reading it, I was prompted to write it due to some glaring holes in the logic used here.
If you decided to just read my response here and not to read the above article, I’ll summarize essentially what was said here:
Mr. Wood made the point that Adele missed her opportunity to start over last year when she had a major technical issue with her performance of “All I Ask”, so she took this year to take her chance. Last year, just as the song began, one of the two microphones placed on the piano fell inside and rested on the strings. The muted strings played all over the arena, and also into her in ear monitors. She could have taken them out though she carried on with them in, which undoubtedly contributed to her pitchy performance that followed. From her facial expressions and her appearance on Ellen the following day, you could tell how mortified she was about the incident.
With this being said, it was natural for her to be going into this year scared of what might happen. Mr. Wood said that essentially, her deciding to stop during the rocky beginning of her performance of “Fastlove” was more a strategic move than a natural blunder. Because she didn’t restart her performance last year, which she told Ellen that she would do if the issue happened again, Mr. Wood insinuates that perhaps she decided to do this when she felt uncomfortable with the way the song started as a “power play”, and goes on to say “It almost makes you wonder if she’s started planning next year’s snafu”. After all, she’s Adele, if nothing else, it can only benefit her to create this disruption (*said sarcastically*).
The first question that comes up after reading this article is: WHY?
Why, after opening the show with a great performance of “Hello” would she need to make the statement about last year’s incident?
Why, when you saw how visibly relieved she was with her first performance going smoothly, would she want to relive the experience of last year that had her so shaken?
And then, I question his logic using evidence from outside the realm of the Grammy awards. Comparing Adele to Taylor Swift (who has come under fire for her behind-the-scenes business work that has come off to many as being shady and underhanded), Katy Perry (who disguised her political statement in the disco-dance beats of her new single “Chained To The Rhythm”, so only those really listening to the lyrics of the song would see the underlying message), and Beyoncé (who rolled out Lemonade in a way different than the other titans in this industry), when analyzed, is, for lack of a better term, unfounded.
It’s particularly Beyoncé’s comparison that I would like to focus on. Beyoncé’s rollout of Lemonade starting with it being a Tidal exclusive and withholding it from iTunes and Spotify for almost a week, was an intelligently planned out business decision. Granted, the album itself is fantastic, one of the best and most cohesive albums I’ve heard in years. Ultimately, she made the most money in her strategic release, because she has a huge stock in Tidal as a company, and I’m sure the subscriptions to the streaming service skyrocketed upon Lemonade’s drop. Adele rolled out 25 as a physical release only. She wanted to traditionally roll out the album because she’s not the biggest fan of streaming services. Frankly, that almost singlehandedly saved the physical album sales of 2015 and 2016. So explain to me how you think any part of Adele’s career mindset is about the money and/or the shock value? Sure, she dramatically rolled out her lead single “Hello” with a bit of pomp and circumstance, but when you are gone for four years after releasing an incredibly successful album like 21, you can understand there was definitely some buzz about a return, or a comeback so to speak.
My point is, Adele is not here for that. She doesn’t need power plays. She comes off relatable and not as “cunning” as Katy Perry, not as “polished” as Taylor Swift because she doesn’t care about that crap. She curses like a sailor because that’s who she is, though her songs make her seem poised and elegant. Her music talks of heartbreak, but her personality is boisterous and hilariously funny. She doesn’t play the music industry like a game. She got notable for her talent, and that’s all she’s here for. You don’t see her in the headlines for scheming with Kanye West and having snapchats leaked proving you were lying about knowledge of a certain pervasive lyric. She’s not in the headlines at all. She keeps private. Nothing about the way she carries herself indicates she would be at all inclined to do something like this as a strategic move in her favor. So playing this off like she knew what she was doing seems to me a ridiculous thing to say as a journalist.
She was not the only one with questionable performances either. Kelsea Ballerini had some pitch issues with her performance of “Peter Pan” with Lukas Graham. One of Metallica’s microphones was off the entire performance. But as one of my professors pointed out, Adele is a huge artist, held to a higher standard. That means yes, she has the ability to stop a performance and start again and not have people say, as my professor put it, “She’s not ready for prime time television”, because people know and respect her abilities, and frankly, the same can be said for Metallica, a band that has been around for ages. However, she’s the only one that has decided to do so. There’s no rule against starting over. So, I’m sorry to say, but that “perceived relatability”, as Mr. Wood calls it, is in fact just relatability. It’s not an act; any performer can relate to that feeling of panic when their performance isn’t going right. Also, if you google some of her past performances, she’s notorious for messing up at times and starting over.
(around :26 mark)
(around the :53 mark)
In these circumstances, she could play it off with humor because these were gigs under her control. On a live television broadcast with millions of people watching, and you’re doing a tribute to George Michael, an iconic artist who she was a huge fan of and who’s legacy she was trying to honor, she had to handle it with respect.
So, to be clear, none of this is new.
And her performance after the shaky start was really good. It wasn’t the best of the night, but it was quite good. The version below shows the performance with the restart removed:
Like I said, this was brought to my attention as I am an Adele fan, but I would be as defensive about this issue with anyone who I feel is being unjustly called out for something.
From a journalistic perspective, this article is incredibly presumptive in its scope and as a reader, I found it very frustrating. As a fellow writer, it was even more frustrating. As an Adele fan, it was downright mind-boggling how little research it seems was done to support this flawed theory.