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Adele fixes performance glitches with a burger and a shake

Posted: February 19, 2016 12:29 a.m.
Updated: February 19, 2016 12:29 a.m.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert/

Adele performs "All I Ask" at the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles.

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There’s a game we like to play with our friends called “Can’t See, Can’t Hear Karaoke.” Each player chooses a song, then puts on a blindfold and noise-canceling headphones. The song is blasted through the headphones, but only the person “singing” can hear the music — and not herself.

It’s always a riot watching people get all into their performances, without being able to see how the crowd is reacting, or know if they’re hitting the right notes. It can make even the best of singers sound terrible. I highly recommend it.

The 2016 Grammy Awards were Monday night, and there were some amazing performances. But there were also some that I think were more along the lines of the “Can’t See, Can’t Hear” game that weren’t necessarily the artist’s fault.

So much goes into a live vocal performance. First off, there are the rehearsals with the band or other musicians and artists beforehand. These can be days to weeks leading up to the actual performance. Hours are spent going over and over the songs, catching missed notes, key changes and wrong tempos. Everything is sorted out, hashed out, worked out and gone over and over again.

Then, either the day of the performance, or sometimes a few days before, the artist goes into the venue they will be performing in for a sound check, which is a rehearsal on stage, checking out the acoustics and equipment of the venue.

The artists spend several hours going over and over the song(s) again, making sure they can hear themselves in the mix of all the instruments, as well as in the monitors at the front and sides of the stage. If the monitors are not turned on, and the sound is just coming through the “house speakers,” the speakers throughout the venue that lets the audience hear the singer clearly, the artists won’t be able to hear themselves.

Add in bright, blinding stage lights and screaming fans, and you can see how sometimes this is the perfect scenario for the “Can’t See, Can’t Hear” game.

Despite hours of rehearsals and sound checks, many times things go wrong. A mic isn’t turned on. An instrument is out of tune. The sound is too loud, too soft or there is a bad connection or too much feedback — that loud, screeching sound a microphone makes when it’s too hot or too close to the speaker.

And that’s what makes live performances so exciting. So much could go wrong, but when everything goes exactly right, magic happens and the crowd is left on a musical high.

Monday night, Adele hit the Grammy stage for the first time since 2012. No doubt she spent hours rehearsing, checking and preparing for this, her “comeback” moment.

Imagine her disappointment when the first notes ringing from the piano were not clear and melodic, but clangy and harsh, like someone was banging on the strings.

"The piano mics fell onto the piano strings; that's what the guitar sound was," Adele explained on Twitter after social media blew up with criticism. In a desperate attempt to fix the problem, the sound technicians momentarily muted Adele’s mic, silencing her voice and making the problem sound worse.

Regardless, Adele powered through and delivered a beautiful rendition of her song “All I Ask.” Was it perfect? No. There were several notes that fell flat and several she flat-out missed. Her voice cracked. Her tone wasn’t spot-on.

But she was still amazing.

There is no denying Adele’s incredible voice, her absolute command of the stage, and her complete dominance of the music industry this past year. While there were things she probably would’ve changed about the performance, most of those things were out of her control.

A singer’s voice isn’t like an instrument they can tune to sound perfect every time. They get tired, they get weak, they are affected by how much sleep they get, what they eat, how stressed out they are, etc. I have often said, “I am only as good as the sound.” Things don’t often go perfectly, but a true professional can make the best out of a mess and that is exactly what Adele did.

“Because of it though... I'm treating myself to an in n out (burger). So maybe it was worth it,” she tweeted.

I agree wholeheartedly, Adele. A burger and shake can make a bad day better.

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