Adele triumphs — and pays tribute to Beyoncé: Fifteen months after sweeping back onto the scene with “25,” Adele dominated the 59th Grammy Awards, nailing album, record and song of the year — matching her sweep of the top categories in 2012 — along with pop vocal album and pop vocal performance.
It capped a dramatic night for the British singer, who had opened the telecast with “Hello” and returned for a misfired performance of George Michael’s “Fastlove” that spurred her to stop in mid-song and start over.
But there was nothing like the twist that came with her final, emotion-drenched acceptance speech, as she looked out to speak directly to Beyoncé, who’d been bested in those three marquee categories by Adele. An excerpt of Adele’s remarks, which drew a tear from Beyoncé:
“I can’t possibly accept this award. I’m very humbled and very grateful and gracious. But my artist of my life is Beyoncé, and this album, to me — the ‘Lemonade’ album — was so monumental, Beyonce, so monumental and so well though-out and so beautiful and soul-baring. … All us artists here adore you. You are our light, and the way that you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel is empowering, and you make them stand up for themselves. And I love you, I always have and I always will.”
Song of the year: The crowd’s warm reception continued for Adele as the show moved into the final hour and she took her third award of the evening, winning song of the year for “Hello.” She again said sorry for her earlier outburst: “I really do apologize for swearing. George Michael — I love him. It means a lot to me, so I’m really sorry if I offended anyone.”
But this time the Grammy production team had its own big screw-up, cutting off Adele’s co-writer, Greg Kurstin, as he stepped up for his own round of thank-yous. It was a lame move that rightfully drew boos inside the Staples Center: Song of the year is a songwriting award, and belongs as much to Kurstin as it does to the famous voice.
He got justice a bit later as “Hello” won record of the year: “You cut him off last time!” Adele said into the camera as she gave the stage over to Kurstin.
Uh oh, Adele: Her solid show-opening rendition of “Hello” had redeemed last year’s fumbling, glitch-filled comeback performance. But Adele found herself reliving that Grammy nightmare as she took to the mic midway through the night for a George Michael tribute, singing flat and missing cues as the brooding “Fastlove” unfolded.
It’s not clear what caused the misfire — she seemed to struggle to find the right key amid a lone plinking piano note — but whatever the case, Adele called things to a halt, insisting, “I can’t do it again like last year.” Bleeped on TV as she cursed, she apologized to show producer Ken Ehrlich while saying, “I can’t mess this up for (George Michael).”
The second go-round was better if not stellar, but Adele seemed to win the hearts of the audience, grabbing a standing ovation as she finished grimacing and teary eyed.
Meme moments: Big talking points arrived in the opening hour, starting as the Ohio duo Twenty One Pilots dropped its pants for a hairy-legged acceptance of the award for best pop duo-group performance (“Stressed Out”). There was a good explanation, as Tyler Joseph recounted the tale of a long-ago Grammy watching party with Josh Dun and friends: “We noticed every single one of us was in our underwear.” And so the pair decided: “If we ever win a Grammy, we should receive it just like this.”
The visibly expecting Beyoncé followed with a visually majestic, sun-crowned performance, surrounded by holograms that sent fans on social media into overdrive. Affectionately introduced by her mother, Tina Knowles, and eventually greeted by a standing ovation that included husband Jay Z and daughter Blue Ivy, Beyoncé wound through the spoken-word section of “Lemonade” — words by poet Warsan Shire — intermingled with “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles.”
She was soon back onstage, accepting the trophy as “Lemonade” took best urban contemporary album and thanking the collaborators who’d helped her make a record about “the profundity of deep Southern culture.” It was a win that put Rihanna on the verge of a shutout: She’s come up short in seven of her eight categories, and only record of the year — against Beyoncé, Adele and Twenty One Pilots — awaits.
Bowie gets the clean sweep: With a win for best rock song (“Blackstar”), the late David Bowie made it 5-for-5 on the night and emerged as the Grammys’ leading winner early in the night. The award joined previously announced wins — all for music from “Blackstar,” released two days before his death in January 2016 — including best rock performance and alternative music album. They’re the first musical Grammys for the folkie-turned-glam-rocker, half a century after he launched his career.
Chance takes his: Chicago’s Chance the Rapper capped a big breakout year by taking the best new artist win, propelled by his gospel-infused mixtape, “Coloring Book.” The trophy took his night’s tally to two (including best rap performance for “No Problem”), and he appeared genuinely humbled in a God-praising acceptance speech to start the live telecast.
The Detroit tally: Several artists with local ties are in the Grammys mix tonight, and we’ve already got some verdicts from the pre-show ceremony.
University of Michigan composer Michael Daugherty racked up in the classical field for his recent work “Tales of Hemingway,” performed by the Nashville Symphony, which earned best contemporary classical composition, classical compendium and best instrumental solo,
Jack White lost out twice, missing best roots song for his newly reworked White Stripes number, “City Lights,” and best rock performance for his Beyoncé collab, “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” White still stands to grab two for his contributions on Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” to be announced tonight.
Iggy Pop, going for the first Grammy win in his half-century career, struck out in the best alternative album album category, as his “Post Pop Depression” gave way to the night’s big early winner — “Blackstar” by his late friend David Bowie.
Detroit gospel singer Tim Bowman Jr. gave way in the best gospel album category to Kirk Franklin’s “Losing My Religion.”
But the night’s prime-time Michigan contender still awaits his fate: Southfield-raised Mike Posner is up for song of the year, as his comeback hit “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” goes up against work by the likes of Adele and Beyoncé.
Bowie, Adele, Drake score big early: With the televised show set to start at 8 p.m. on CBS, live from L.A.’s Staples Center, the vast majority of the night’s awards have been handed out in the standard pre-telecast ceremony.
The late David Bowie not only earned the first musical Grammy of his career — he grabbed four of them, all for work from “Blackstar,” the adventurous opus released two days before his death in January 2016. So far, the album’s wins include best rock performance, alternative music album (over longtime pal Iggy Pop) and recording package. Still to come: a possible win for best rock song, for the album’s title track.
Adele, coming into the night with five noms, has won best pop vocal album (“25”) and pop solo performance (“Hello”), with three big categories to come later tonight.
Drake has also picked up a pair, including best rap song for “Hotline Bling,” while missing out on two more, with four of his categories still to be announced.
Beyoncé, whose nine nominations lead the evening, has picked up one (best music video, “Formation”) while striking out on four. But still to come are album, record and song of the year, where she’ll be head to head with Adele in what’s been trumpeted as the night’s big Grammy battle.