Mysteries solved. Following the 2016 Grammy Awards on Monday, February 15, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) president Neil Portnow opened up to Us Weekly and other reporters backstage at the Staples Center in L.A., and explained what exactly happened with Adele's sound glitch, Rihanna's last-minute no-show and other buzzed-about snafus from the live broadcast.
"[The show has] over 20 performances, each performance is a complete set change," said Portnow of Adele's marred "All I Ask" performance. "We change over the microphones, wires. If you’ve been backstage, I can't tell you how we get it done, but we do. So, my understanding of what happened in that performance was, that’s a piano that gets loaded up on that center round stage. In the piano, are microphones, or a microphone, which is how that all gets taken care of. My understanding is that, just like this kind of microphone, something like that happened, the microphone dropped into the strings. You’ve seen the inside of a piano. You could actually hear it in the control room."
Indeed, an odd strumming noise was heard during Adele's first Grammys performance since 2013. While some heard the plunking of guitar strings — which made viewers wonder if it was Justin Bieber prepping for his acoustic performance which immediately followed Adele's — eagle-eyed viewers realized that a piano mic fell onto the strings of the instrument, which explained the cacophony. Adele, 27, also took to Twitter to explain the mishap directly.
"The piano mics fell on the piano strings, that's what the guitar sound was. It made it sound out of tune. S--t happens," she tweeted. "I'm treating myself to an in n out. So maybe it was worth it."
Blunders like this are nothing new to music industry professionals, but producers were able to fine-tune it, immediately. "These things happen. Rarely on our show, by the way. We have an extraordinary track record,” Portnow, NARAS president since 2002, told Us. "When that happened, the next move for the engineer people is to stop that from happening, and then they have the ability to switch over, they have a backup system. So, when they switch over to the backup system, you’ve got to drop out for a couple of seconds in the house there. That’s what happened. We picked it up immediately. We were back on track, seamless. That being said, when you’re performing, particularly an intimate performance like she was doing, she’s doing a solo vocal with a piano, it can be unnerving."
Unnerving even for Adele, who briefly froze as her performance kicked off, before powering through. "All credit to her for the professional that she is. The show must go on. She did a great job," Portnow gushed on Monday night. "We certainly don’t like when those things happen, but those things happen sometimes."
Along with Adele, Portnow also addressed Rihanna pulling out from her scheduled performance right before the broadcast was slated to begin. As exclusively reported by Us Weekly, the "Anti" singer canceled her performance a half hour before the show began, inciting panic backstage.
"I guess it was about 4:15 or so, we got word from her folks which basically said she had been under the care of a doctor. I guess she had been taking some antibiotics, some of you guys have had that stuff that’s going around, right? And she made the rehearsal, which was OK. She wasn’t feeling that great," Portnow elaborated. "Doctor came in, examined her and said look, you have to be on at least 48 hours rest. You’re at risk here if you’re going to sing. Now, we all know we’ve seen this with other artists. How many other, whether it’s John Mayer who had this problem, Adele had the problem. This happens with singers. So, if you’re a singer and you have a problem like that, and the doctor says, don’t, if you’re smart, you don’t. So, we regret that. Of course we were all looking forward to that performance. She regrets it. She’d rather be singing than home in bed taking some medication. That’s what happens with live events. So we miss having her there. Hopefully next time around."
Watch Adele perform in the video above.
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