Up until the untimely passing of Whitney Houston on Saturday night, the biggest narrative going into Sunday night’s Grammy Awards was the return of Adele. What would she sing? How would she sound? And would her night end triumphantly with a clean awards sweep?
She certainly answered 66% of those questions when she walked onto the stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and knocked “Rolling in the Deep” out of the ballpark. Though she has admitted to suffering from performance-related anxiety in the past, she showed no signs of wavering during an exquisite performance that fell a little short of her memorable turn at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards but still instantly became a signature television moment.
Adele’s big night began during an extensive interview conducted for 60 Minutes by Anderson Cooper. The piece featured a tour through her near-empty house in the English countryside, talked about her reticence to be in videos and on magazine covers (“I don’t want to be some skinny Minnie with my t–s out,” she told Cooper), and the details of the surgery on her vocal cords that left her essentially mute for two months.
She was not mute on Sunday night. Following a lengthy introduction by Gwyneth Paltrow, Adele started “Rolling in the Deep” with an a capella section, as though to remind people that her voice was the thing, and that it was perfectly fine post-op, thank you very much.
The band kicked in, and the rest was what we’ve come to expect from Adele: a seemingly effortless cavalcade of melancholic soul and sheer vocal power. On a night when many were lamenting the loss of one of pop music’s best-ever voices, Adele reminded the music world that sometimes a set of pipes—and not lasers or wacky dance moves—is all you need to bring a crowd to its feet.
What did you think of Adele’s performance? Was she better here or at the VMAs? Roll deep in the comments.