Jim Duffy: Moved by Adele's poignant tribute to George Michael
I fired up my iPad this week and browsed my usual news websites. The pictures of Adele at the Grammy Awards were everywhere. I don’t usually watch these luvvie type awards ceremonies, but any time Adele is on the card, I’ll check it out. I pressed play on the six-minute video that was on offer to me.
Adele was, as usual, captivating. However, I could tell right from the off that something was wrong as she started to sing her rendition of the George Michael hit, Fast Love. Then she did what the truly authentic Adele would always do. She stopped the whole gig, live on global TV, and stated she wanted to start again. I wonder how many X Factor hopefuls would do that in front Simon Cowell? She knew that she wanted this tribute to George Michael to be the best she could do for him. So, she said a few swear words, composed herself and started again on an even keel and in tune with what she wanted from the performance. It was breath-taking - the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up, my eyes welling up. Behind her as she performed, a rolling montage of pictures and video of the late George Michael played and it showed us again his star quality coupled with his humanity. But why did she pick that song?
You may recall that after first recording Fast Love, George Michael did a song called, Outside – released in 1998. This was a play on his arrest for a lewd act in a public toilet in Los Angeles. He had been caught by an undercover police officer in the Will Rogers Park across the from the celebrated Beverly Hills Hotel. Of course, the story broke and Michael was all over the newspapers and TV. It was not a great time for him and he later parodied the episode in the song dressed in a rather sexy looking police officer outfit. But, as I listened to Adele and watched the montage, it was obvious that George Michael was playing out his life in his music: a life that as a gay man had many frustrations.
The lyrics of the song Fast Love read: “In the absence of security, I made my way into the night.” How tough must this have been for George Michael and so many others who had to live with the stigma and negativity surrounding being gay. How things have changed, but not enough as evidenced this week with the General Synod of the Church of England grappling with recognising gay marriage. But while this goes on, you may be aware that the tech revolution has not just affected our banking, our communications and our access to news, it has also had an affect on how we find love and sex regardless of gender. Let’s call it SexTech.
The rise and huge popularity of the gay hook-up site Grindr is testament to the huge demand for tech to open up new channels of communication and access to gay dating and meetings. Whether you believe that this is a good thing or not, depending on your stance on these issues, it is happening and is hugely successful as an app. You can download Grindr on both the Apple App store and Google Play. The app is only six years old and already has had tens of millions of dollars of investment, valuing it at over $155 million. So, investors like it too.
Moving this on to straight people and their desires for a more no-nonsense approach to meeting people and hooking up, there are a plethora of new apps coming on to the market that are disrupting traditional dating apps and sites. Most of you will have heard of Tinder, but there are more and more sites catering for people who simply want to meet up, be clear with each other on what they want and, dare I say it, satisfy their urges and be human. Apps like Blendr, Pure and Whiplr offer users the opportunity to ‘hook up’ conveniently and confidentially and, more importantly, safely. For many of us this may be uncomfortable reading as it jars with our values and morals. You may view it as a bit Soddom and Gomorrah. But conversely, many will see it as liberating and a more 21st century view and attitude to sex and Fast Love.
George Michael did not live in an age where these SexTech Apps existed. And I think the message that Adele wanted to convey was that despite all his talent and money, he was very much human and very much open to all that brings with it. As I’ve commented on before, George Michael had his demons and drugs played a big part in this latterly, it would appear. But, he was human, a gay man and a global celebrity, a mix that caused him great angst I would submit. How many others have had to go out into the night and find love in years gone past as a result of society not recognising gay relationships and the needs and desires that as human beings they possess – both emotional and physical?
Technology is changing this. It is changing it for us all – gay or straight. It is taking the game-playing and bullshit conversation out of meeting someone and making us focus on what we want and what they want. If I’m not mistaken this is good old fashioned, clear communication.
Fancy that – eh?