Watch Adele break hearts at the Grammys with her haunting tribute to dear friend George Michael

13 September 2021, 14:35

Adele performing 'Fastlove' in tribute to George Michael at the Grammys, and George Michael congratulating Adele for her BRIT Award win in 2012.
Adele performing 'Fastlove' in tribute to George Michael at the Grammys, and George Michael congratulating Adele for her BRIT Award win in 2012. Picture: Getty

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

The world was truly shocked on Christmas Day in 2016, when it was announced that pop music icon George Michael had tragically passed away.

It was an announcement that came completely out of nowhere which impacted the world of music, if not the entire world.

Of course, there were many tributes to the great George Michael after his passing as the UK entered an era of national mourning for one of the country's most beloved pop stars.

Read more: George Michael 'wanted to duet with Adele'

One tribute that resonates still today was at the 59th Grammy Awards in 2017, however, when his dear friend Adele took to the stage.

Not only was it her gorgeous performance that brought everyone watching to tears, it was also the fact that she had been such close friends with the man himself, and he clearly meant so much to her.

Adele's "Fast Love" (Live at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards 2017)

Adele's tribute to George Michael at the Recording Academy / GRAMMYs on Sunday (Feb. 12) 2017, and didn't immediately recall the song she was performing -- even on second take -- don't feel too bad. "Fastlove" was a decent-sized hit for Michael upon its release as the second single from 1996's Older album, peaking at No. 8 on the Hot 100 -- but as that LP title would imply, this was already relatively deep into George Michael's career, long after the peak of his Stateside impact.

Posted by Adele Indonesia on Friday, February 23, 2018

A testament to George Michael's character was that he befriended and strived to help everyone he came in contact with.

This deep connection between the two was evident almost as soon as Adele began to perform 'Fastlove', George's final ever UK number one hit. But it was no carbon copy of the original.

As the applause dimmed, only a faint and isolated piano key were audible as Adele slowly uttered the opening lyrics to the song.

Read more: Adele facts: Singer's age, boyfriend, parents, children and net worth revealed

But as the orchestra backing her began to swell, she suddenly stopped and addressed the crowd.

Adele performs haunting tribute to George Michael at The 59th GRAMMY Awards, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)
Adele performs haunting tribute to George Michael at The 59th GRAMMY Awards, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS). Picture: Getty
George Michael warmly embraces Adele after she wins Best Album at the BRIT Awards in 2012. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
George Michael warmly embraces Adele after she wins Best Album at the BRIT Awards in 2012. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images). Picture: Getty

"I know it's live TV, I know, I'm sorry" she said to the audience before also dropping the F-bomb. Whilst the producers were probably pulling their hair out over the expletive, the Grammys crowd began to applaud.

"I'm sorry, I can't mess this up for him, I'm sorry" she continued to apologise before taking a step back, visibly distressed by the occasion.

Read more: George Michael’s isolated a cappella vocals from Careless Whisper are spine-tingling

The Grammys crowd were in a supportive mood however and encouraged Adele to start from the top as she gathered her composure.

What came next was mesmerising, and a tribute that George would've been truly proud of.

A montage of George covered the entire screen in the background, showing images of the icon throughout his career.

There were no gimmicks, no lavish over-the-top stage production. Just Adele and her impeccable vocal.

Read more: Adele transforms into hero George Michael to celebrate 33rd birthday

She completely flipped the sentiment of the song on its head, from what was a raunchy dance-pop anthem became a haunting, spine-tingling ode to a lost talent.

Clearly heartbroken by the loss of one of her heroes, her emotion mirrored that of the entire world which is no doubt why her stripped-back, soulful rendition was such as powerful tribute.