Adele walked away the belle of the ball: She took home all five awards she was nominated for Sunday night, including album, record and song of the year.
She beat Beyonce in the top three categories with her comeback album “25,” and repeated her accomplishments from 2012, when the British star also won album, song and record of the year at the Grammys. She’s the first artist in Grammy history to sweep the top three categories twice, and now has a total of 15 Grammys.
Adele used her speech to honor Beyonce and her groundbreaking “Lemonade” album, which was also nominated. And backstage, she told press she voted for Beyonce when putting in her ballot for album of the year.
“But I can’t really accept this award. And I’m very humble and I’m very grateful and gracious, but my artist of my life is Beyonce. This album you made, the ‘Lemonade’ album, is so monumental,” Adele said to her fellow singer at the Staples Center in Los Angeles when accepting the album of the year trophy. “The way you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel is empowering. And they stand up for themselves. And I love you. I always have.”
The night for Adele wasn’t all good though: The singer, who had trouble with her live performance at last year’s Grammys, asked to restart her tribute to George Michael, telling the audience: “I can’t mess this up for him.” She stopped and used an expletive after singing some of a new arrangement of Michael’s “Fastlove,” as videos and photos of Michael played in the background. She re-sang the song and earned applause and support from the crowd, though Adele was teary eyed.
Michael died on Christmas Day. A number of other icons were honored Sunday, including Prince: Bruno Mars – rocking a glittery, Prince-like purple blazer – worked the guitar like a pro while singing the icon’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” The Time – who worked closely with the Prince – brought the audience to its feet with funky performances of “Jungle Love” and “The Bird.”
“Make some noise for Prince y’all,” Mars yelled.
Mars was also a winner Sunday – he won for his producing work on Adele’s album. Adele’s other wins included best pop vocal album and pop solo performance.
Until Adele’s abrupt restart, Beyonce was the talk of the show. In glittery gown, gilded crown and gold choker, a pregnant Beyonce took the Grammy stage in a lengthy performance of two songs from her critically acclaimed album “Lemonade.” She was introduced by her mother and former stylist, Tina Knowles: “Ladies and gentlemen, with my mother’s pride, my daughter, Beyonce.”
Beyonce sang on top of a long table and later sang while sitting down in a chair that tilted alarmingly backward, still hitting high notes. She performed the songs “Sandcastles” and “Love Drought.”
She earned a loud applause from the audience, including daughter Blue Ivy and husband Jay Z. Beyonce, who walked into the show with nine nominations, only won two: best music video (“Formation”) and urban contemporary album (“Lemonade”).
“My intention for the film and album is to create a body of work that would give voice to our pain, our struggles, our doubts, and our history, to confront issues that make us uncomfortable. It’s important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty, so they can grow in a world, where they look in the mirror, first with their own families as well as in the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House and the Grammys and see themselves,” said Beyonce, reading from a card. “This is something that I want for every child of every race, and I feel that it’s vital that we learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes.”
Beyonce’s speech wasn’t the only political moment: A Tribe Called Quest, along with Anderson .Paak and Busta Rhymes, gave a rousing performance and shouted “resist, resist!” at their end of the performance, which featured a number of people onstage, including women in hijabs.
Like Adele, David Bowie – who died last year from cancer – won all four awards he was nominated for. “Blackstar,” his final album released days before he died, won best alternative music album and engineered album, non-classical. The title track won best rock song and rock performance.
Before Sunday, Bowie only won one Grammy in his career – in the 1980s for a music video.
Adele and Mars worked overtime onstage, each performing twice. Adele kicked off the show with “Hello” and Mars and his groovy band gave a memorable performance of “That’s What I Like” – as Jennifer Lopez, Faith Hill, Rihanna and even some of the men in the audience watched closely, looking impressed.
Chance the Rapper won the first award in the live telecast for best new artist. He also won best rap album – the first streaming-only album to do so – and bested Drake and Kanye West.
“I didn’t think we were gonna get this one,” said Chance, who also won best rap performance.
Twenty one pilots won best pop duo/group performance for the hit “Stressed Out.” They removed their pants when accepting the award in homage to their earlier days when they watched the Grammys at home in their boxers.
Producer Greg Kurstin won four honors: He shared album, song and record of the year with Adele, and was also named producer of the year, non-classical.
In the pre-telecast, Beyonce’s younger sister, critical R&B darling Solange, won her first Grammy for best R&B performance (it was her first-ever nomination). Drake, who didn’t attend the live show, won best rap song and rap/sung performance for the smash hit, “Hotline Bling.”
West and Justin Bieber, nominated for album and song of the year, also didn’t attend the show.
Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – which is nominated for an Oscar – won best song written for visual media. Best new artist nominees The Chainsmokers won best dance recording for the pop hit “Don’t Let Me Down,” while Simpson, an album of the year nominee, won best country album for “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.”
Joey + Rory won best roots gospel album for “Hymns,” and Rory Feek was emotional onstage as he remembered his wife Joey, who died last year from cancer.
Some actors won Grammys, too: Don Cheadle picked up best compilation soundtrack for visual media for “Miles Ahead,” where he is credited as a compilation producer, and Carol Burnett won the best spoken word album Grammy.
“The Color Purple” won best musical theater album, giving Jennifer Hudson her second Grammy and earning Tony winner Cynthia Erivo and “Orange Is the New Black” actress Danielle Brooks their first Grammys.