2014 was a year of unique pop culture moments: It was the year King Joffrey had a Really Bad Wedding. It was the year Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin inflicted the phrase “conscious uncoupling” on us. It was the year U2 revoked the concept of free will by dropping their album into everyone’s iTunes unannounced.
But most importantly, it was the year a legend was born: the wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem.
Today, to celebrate the birthday of musical theatre icon and movie star Idina Menzel, we take a journey back to relive the moment John Travolta’s mouth consciously uncoupled from his brain, giving us the greatest 10 seconds of television awards history.
But first of all, we must appreciate Idina Menzel. The actress and singer initially found fame as Maureen in the original cast of Rent in 1994, starring alongside Taye Diggs, Adam Pascal, Jesse L. Martin and more for the workshop and Broadway run, reuniting in the movie a decade later. As the original Elphaba in Wicked, her voice has become synonymous with the big, defiant, witchy solo numbers – which of course made her the perfect choice to be cast in a film about a reclusive ice queen.
It’s 2014. Parents are going out of their minds from having to watch Frozen everyday to persuade their toddler to put socks on. The film, released in time for the festive season of the previous year, is the most successful Disney film of all and Let It Go has become its breakout song. With Menzel’s voice behind Elsa the ice queen, Let It Go was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song.
The 86th Academy Awards Ceremony has a number of stand-out moments. Steve McQueen became the first black director to helm a Best Picture winner for 12 Years A Slave. Ellen DeGeneres is the host, and her selfie with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Meryl Streep among others goes viral and spawns a number of memes and copies of its own (though it turns out to be an ad campaign).
The time has come for the final performance of the night. After a 75th anniversary tribute to The Wizard of Oz and Bette Midler singing Wind Beneath My Wings over the in memoriam tribute, John Travolta arrives to introduce Menzel’s rendition of Let It Go, which everyone is waiting for.
As an icon of movie musicals, Travolta is a good choice to present this segment – he even says so himself: “There will always be a special place in my heart for the movie musical, and for the songs that create their most memorable moments.” Everyone is very impressed when he manages not to stumble over this alliteration.
What happens next is the thing fever dreams are made of. He introduces the song, and gets to her name… “the wickedly talented, one and only…
Everyone watching goes into overdrive immediately, with memes streaming out of the internet’s every orifice. Someone creates Adele Dazeem a Twitter account, and starts tweeting from her perspective. The name on Menzel’s Wikipedia page is changed accordingly. Slate creates a Adele Dazeem Name Generator where you can “Travoltify” your own name.
Menzel carries on heroically and, seemingly unfazed, does her best to let it go (sorry). She later says on Andy Cohen’s talk show, that “for eight seconds, I felt very sorry for myself and then I said, get my s*** together. This is your chance. Who cares? Sing the damn song.” She adds, with a smile and a hairflip: “But now it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Travolta also gets the chance to explain his side of the story on Jimmy Kimmel’s sofa, saying that he had anticipated having more time before going onstage to introduce the performance. Just as he’s about to walk out, he bumps into Goldie Hawn and gets starstruck and distracted by hugging her. In the frenzy, an assistant tells him that they’ve changed her name on the autocue to phonetic spelling, “and I didn’t rehearse it that way!” It’s Goldie Hawn’s fault, you guys.
A year passes, filled with countless deliberate name mispronunciations. The 87th Academy Awards Ceremony comes around, and guess who is invited to introduce the nominations for Best Original Song. Menzel gets her own back in welcoming her "very dear friend, Glom Gazingo” to the stage. He gets another shot at pronouncing her name correctly, which he manages – along with some very bizarre excessive face cradling. “Yay, you did it!” says Menzel. “Not like it’s gonna follow me around for the rest of my life or anything.” (So sorry, Idina.)
Still, nothing can stop the tweets, which thankfully continue to this day – one of the enduring joys of this curs-ed internet.
While absolutely nothing can compare to the surprise and delight of seeing it happen in real time, viewing these 10 seconds of perfection on repeat on a regular basis – like watching Glom Gazingo drive a car impossibly slowly into a tree – in the six years since, is a tonic for so many ailments.
So, happy birthday to you, Idina Menzel. The wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem is the light that we need in times of darkness. Let the memes rage on.