British singer Adele was the big winner at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night, winning album of the year for her hugely selling third album 25, as well as major awards for song and record of the year for her hit "Hello," plus two other trophies. In so doing, she beat out her main competitor, Beyonce, who took home only two awards, despite being nominated for nine.
In accepting the album of the year Golden Gramophone, which she also won in 2012 for 21, Adele (last name: Adkins) was overcome with emotion and seemed almost apologetic to win over Beyonce's Lemonade, an album she called "so monumental" as she addressed the pregnant-with-twins singer whom she called "the artist of my life."
Like Adele, David Bowie also won five awards - though none in the four major categories. Chance the Rapper won three and Canadian rapper Drake and Texas songwriter Sarah Jarosz took home two each.
Several artists made political statements part of their performance during the presentation of the 59th annual Grammys, which included multiple artist tributes, with an effective one for George Michael by Adele, a relatively exciting one honoring Prince featuring Morris Day & the Time and Bruno Mars, and a dud for the Bee Gees with Demi Lovato and Tori Kelly.
Among its many moments of subtle and not-so-subtle protest, none was more emphatic than that of veteran rap group A Tribe Called Quest, whose performance of “We the People” from their 2016 comeback album, We Got It From Here ... Thank You 4 Your Service, included guest rapper Busta Rhymes addressing Donald Trump as “President Agent Orange” and ended with chants of “Resist!”
Beyonce was this year’s Grammy top nomination getter with nine for her powerhouse, genre-spanning tour de force Lemonade, the deserved pre-show favorite for album of the year. The super-diva didn’t do that great in the pre-show awards, winning only best video for “Formation,” while Lemonade lost out to Ron Howard’s The Beatles: Eight Days a Week the Touring Years for best music film.
But early on in the telecast, the significantly pregnant -- with twins -- singer, who was introduced by her mother, Tina Knowles, gave a performance not to be topped when it came to spurring social media and next-day water-cooler discussion. She didn’t sing “Halo,” but she was adorned with a golden one, appearing as an Earth Mother/Sun Goddess as she sang a medley of “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles” from Lemonade, two central songs from the album as it turns from rage and recrimination to forgiveness and love. A becalmed, luminous, stellar performance that outshone all that preceded it.
Later, she won best urban contemporary album for Lemonade and, in accepting, read from a speech in which she cited the album’s intention to explore “the profundity of deep Southern culture” and “our pain, our struggle, our darkness, our history,” as well as the importance of showing examples of excellence in the Super Bowl, the White House, and the Grammys to “all children of all races.”
The first big winner on the 59th annual Grammy telecast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles was best new artist Chance the Rapper, the Chicago rhymer who beat out country singers Maren Morris and Kelsi Ballerini, soul-hip-hop bandleader Anderson Paak, and electro duo Chainsmokers. Chance also won a best rap performance award for “No Problem,” featuring 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne in the pre-telecast ceremony in which the great majority of the Grammys are given away. Later, the artist also known as Chancelor Bennett, who wore a baseball cap with the numeral 3 on it, as he did on the cover of his third mixtape Coloring Book, completed the hat trick with a best rap album trophy.
The show started with a powerhouse, no-frills vocal performance by Adele, the mega-popular British belter who was expected to battle it out with Beyonce for the night’s biggest honors. After Adele said “Hello” to the broadcast TV audience, another Brit -- late-night talk show and Carpool Karaoke host James Corden -- made his entrance, complete with a comedic pratfall that included losing a shoe.
For laughs, Corden rapped, cracking jokes about nominees, including one about the country album winner and album of the year nominee -- “Sturgill Simpson is here, and Google just crashed, from everyone typing, ‘Who the hell is that?' ”
As awards show hosts are wont to do in 2017, Corden made a semi-lighthearted nod to politics. “Live it all up, because this is the best/And with President Trump, we don’t know who comes next.” He also struck a note of American inclusiveness, carrying on a theme from the previous Sunday’s Super Bowl commercials: “We sit here tonight no matter what our race/ Or where we were born, our color, our face/ We’re using this art, remembered forever/ we can survive by sticking together.”
Corden’s wasn’t the only early politicized moment. Jennifer Lopez gave out the new artist award after a mini-speech that got surprisingly profound by quoting Toni Morrison. And Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris, a recent Rolling Stone cover subject, greeted the crowd by wishing the evening’s excitement could be channeled into “a pipeline protest -- hashtag #NoDAPL.”
The winning fashion statement of the early evening came from Twenty One Pilots, the pop duo of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, who beat out Rihanna and Drake among others in the best pop duo/group category. They responded to the victory by taking off their pants. Joseph explained that when the duo first watched the Grammys in their native Ohio, they realized they were all sitting around in their underwear, and vowed they would strip to their boxers should they ever win. Their drawers were probably cleaner this time around. Corden jumped on the trend and was pantless for his next appearance on camera.
Another early-on camera award was David Bowie, the Brit superstar who is suddenly a Grammy favorite after dying in January of last year. (He won only one Grammy in his lifetime, plus a lifetime achievement award.) This year, Bowie won every category in which he was nominated, pulling in four awards in the pre-show, plus best rock song for the title cut to his final album, Blackstar.
Other performances of note: 1960s Memphis soul man William Bell won his first Grammy on Sunday for best Americana album with This Is Where I Live, and he and Texas guitarist Gary Clark Jr. turned in a scorching take on Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign.” Corden did a play on his Carpool Karaoke routine with Neil Diamond, Jennifer Lopez, Faith Hill and John Legend, among others, teaming up for a version of Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” that was a not-so-charming mess.
Many performances on what CBS hypes as “Music’s Biggest Night” had nothing to do with the awards. Kinky Canadian love man the Weeknd did a “Starboy” / “I Feel It Coming” medley with the French robots of Daft Punk, channeling Kraftwerk vibes. A newly blond Katy Perry appeared to be paying homage to 1980s pop band Bananarama with the faux-reggae of her new single “Chained to the Rhythm,” and the Hillary Clinton campaigner weighed in to the political forum by performing in front of a display of the U.S. Constitution.
After her “Hello” opener, Adele reappeared to pay tribute to George Michael, and turned in an accidentally showstopping performance. That is, she started performing “Fastlove” as a tribute to Michael, and then stopped abruptly when she messed up the song. It turned out to be an endearing human error. After apologizing for swearing, she started the song over, and turned in an elegant, moving performance ending in tears.
That wasn’t the only malfunction. The head-scratching Metallica-Lady Gaga duet of “Moth into Flame” from the black-clad headbangers Hardwired ... The Self Destruct album was marred when frontman James Hetfield’s mic was not working, unbeknownst to him, for the first half of the song. That didn’t stop Gaga from throwing herself into the staging with glee, and throwing herself into the crowd for some well-rehearsed stage diving.
The Philadelphia nominees up for awards did not win. Jill Scott, nominated for best tradtional R&B for “Can’t Wait,” lost out to Lalah Hathaway. Musiq Soulchild, up for best R&B performance for “I Do,” was beaten by Beyonce’s sister Solange. Composer Jennifer Higdon and Philadelphia Orchestra leader Yannick Nezet-Seguin garnered classical nominations, but didn't win.