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Adele Drops F-Bomb, Restarts George Michael Tribute at 2017 Grammys

Variety logo Variety 2/13/2017 Sarah Ahern
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Adele dropped an F-bomb a few seconds into her tribute to George Michael at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night as she appeared to experience technical issues. The pop superstar then insisted on restarting the song.

“I can’t do it again like last year,” she said. “I’m sorry for swearing. I can’t mess this up for him.” Adele, visibly distraught, added: “Sorry Ken,” a reference to Grammy exec producer Ken Ehrlich.

Adele performed Michael’s 1996 song “Fastlove” to salute her fellow Brit who died unexpectedly at the age of 50 on Christmas Day.

By the end of her performance, Adele was in tears. After finishing she turned her back to the crowd briefly to wipe her eyes. She got an extended standing ovation from the Staples Center audience.

CBS’ live telecast of the three and a half hour ceremony is airing on a seven-second delay. But Adele’s mumbled F-bomb slipped past the censors poised to bleep out any profanity. CBS and its station affiliates could potentially face fines from the FCC for allowing an expletive to air before 10 p.m.

When Adele won song of the year for “Hello” about an hour later, she apologized again to the audience. “I really do apologize for swearing. I’m sorry if I offended anyone, anywhere,” she said while accepting her third trophy of the night with Greg Kurstin, her co-writer and producer. “I just really love him,” she said, referring to Michael.

Michael was one of several prominent musicians to die during 2016. Another, Prince, was also recognized with a tribute on Sunday. When Michael died, this year’s Grammys host James Corden paid tribute by revealing that he had helped start the late night host’s now-viral segment “Carpool Karaoke.”

Michael was first honored with a Grammy nomination for Wham!’s 1984 “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” in contention for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal. His first career Grammy win came in 1987 for best rhythm and blues performance by a duo or group with vocal  for “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” a duet done with Aretha Franklin. In 1989, Michael received the album of the year award for his 1987 album “Faith.”

Michael also garnered several nominations from his later works, including a nomination for best traditional pop vocal album for his 2000 album “Songs from the Last Century,” as well as best short form music video for “Flawless (Go to the City)” in 2005, among others.

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