LOS ANGELES – By the time Bonnie Raitt joined Chris Stapleton and Gary Clark, Jr. to sing "The Thrill is Gone" during the Grammy Awards' final half hour, the thrill was long gone from the CBS telecast.
What was supposed to be popular music's biggest night ended up a mess of technical glitches, streaming issues, uneven performances, and hurt feelings.
First, fans who were planning to watch the awards on CBS’ All Access livestream service were disappointed as the site crashed approximately four seconds before the big show. All Access charges viewers $5.99 a month to watch certain shows and live events.
Fans took to Twitter to express their outrage over the streaming issues.
Then, on the CBS network, during the pre-show run-up, rapper Bow Wow, who now goes by the name Shad Moss, tried and failed to successfully navigate the countdown clock, not seeming to realize there were still 90 seconds remaining on the clock when he threw to the show's hosts.
And the show hadn't even started.
The night's biggest gaffe came during the highly anticipated performance by Adele, whose album "25" has sold seven million copies. Before she even sang the new single "All I ask," Adele -- and the millions of viewers -- noticed an odd off-key sound coming out of the piano. Try as they may, the audio engineers could not mask it, and Adele, looking concerned, proceeded to sing off key for much of her performance.
And people noticed.
Afterwards, Adele tweeted: “The piano mics fell on to the piano strings; that's what the guitar sound was. It made it sound out of tune. S—t happens. X.”
Recording Academy president Neil Portnow told Variety the audio issues were not Adele’s fault.
“To Adele’s credit, she killed it, she did a fantastic job, the pro that she is,” Portnow said. “That was all an issue on our behalf. Kenny (Ehrlich) (Grammy producer) asked that we make that really clear to everybody.”
But even performances with no sound issues were criticized for being, well, boring, with artists The Weeknd and Little Big Town turning hit singles "In the Night" and "Girl Crush" into piano and string arrangements. (In The Weeknd's defense, he had to deal with a late cancellation of his duet partner, Lauryn Hill. Rihanna also bowed out of the show last minute.)
Some of the night's biggest crowd pleasers turned out to be tributes to the late David Bowie by Lady Gaga, to the late Glenn Frey by the remaining members of The Eagles and Jackson Brown, and to Motorhead's late lead singer and bass player Lemmy Kilmister by an all-star band featuring Johnny Depp.
But family of the late Natalie Cole were miffed that she was relegated to the night's "In Memoriam" section.
"Here is a woman who has been in the business for four decades, had 21 Gammy nominations and won nine Grammys. She deserves more than (to be a part of) a minute-and-a-half tribute," Cole's son Robert Adam Yancy told Entertainment Tonight. "It was shameless the way they minimized her legacy. We will find solace in her legacy as well as her endless fans around the world."