James Corden introduced Adele to perform a new arrangement of “Fastlove” as a tribute to the late George Michael.
But several seconds into the song, performed against a backdrop of images from Michael’s life and career, Adele abruptly stopped.
She had been in the wrong key. The telecast cut audio for a moment.
“I know this is live TV… I can’t do it again like last year,” she said, alluding to a botched performance at the 2016 ceremony when she sounded off after some show production issues.
“I’m sorry for swearing and and I’m sorry for starting again,” Adele said Sunday, frustrated. “I can’t mess this up for him. I’m sorry, I can’t.”
“I’m so sorry, I’m really sorry,” she said.
The audience applauded with support, some standing. After a moment, the piano keys began again, and she sang it once more.
After ending the performance, Adele turned her back to the audience. When she turned around, she had what seemed like tears in her eyes and a tortured and disappointed look on her face. The audience erupted.
According to the Recording Academy, Adele had picked “Fastlove”when she was asked to pay tribute to Michael.
In 2016, Adele seemed to falter in singing “All I Ask.” Apparently, piano mics had fallen on piano strings, creating an off sound. The Recording Academy ended up taking responsibility for the mishap.