Adele's bittersweet night at the Grammys

Beyonce put on a dazzling performance of Love Drought and Sandcastles, with her pregnant belly highlighted for the camera.
Beyonce put on a dazzling performance of Love Drought and Sandcastles, with her pregnant belly highlighted for the camera.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

British singer scoops up five major awards, but says her own choice for Album of the Year is Beyonce's Lemonade

LOS ANGELES • Adele swept the 59th annual Grammy Awards for her album 25, an enormous hit around the world, in a night that shut Beyonce out of the major awards and also featured reverent tributes and, at times, pointed political commentary.

Adele won five awards, including Album of the Year for 25 and both Record and Song of the Year for the hit Hello - a sweep that the balladeer accomplished five years ago with her last album, 21. She is the only artist to win Album, Record and Song of the Year twice.

The night had been seen as a contest between Adele and Beyonce, who were up against each other in all major categories.

There was also concern in the music industry that just such an outcome - a white woman defeating a black woman in all top awards - would feed a brewing resentment that the Grammys too often fail to recognise minority artists in the top categories.

  • Awards style

  • Hits

    Adele

    Although netizens think that Adele's custom Givenchy Haute Couture gown by Riccardo Tisci resembles a Malay ketupat, the 28-year-old looks great in green. It is a departure from the usual black gowns she favours.

    Heidi Klum

    The German- American model, 43, knows that with her mile-long legs, all she needs to rock the red carpet are a sequinned Philipp Plein mini dress and a pair of silver platforms.

    Nathan Scherrer

    The music video producer, who won Best Music Video for his work on Beyonce's Formation music video, knows his colours. His dark teal suit is the supporting act to his peroxide- blond hair. The mismatched footwear shows off his eccentric side.

  • Misses

    Lady Gaga

    The US singer and actress, 30, has been appearing in sophisticated ensembles the past year (such as the Brandon Maxwell jumpsuit-dress hybrid she wore to last year's Oscars), so this top with a daring show of cleavage is a shock to the senses - crass with only shock value.

    Katy Perry

    The American singer, 32, usually ups the sexy quotient on the red carpet. But this time, she does her figure no justice with this outfit. The sequin tunic is at an awkward length and the feather skirt looks frumpy, not to mention like a feather duster.

    CeeLo Green

    The American singer, songwriter and record producer went to the awards show as his newly created alter-ego, Gnarly Davidson.

    The 42-year-old's head-to-toe gold outfit and prosthetic face make-up make him look like a cross between an Oscars statue and The Thing from The Fantastic Four.

    Alyssa Woo

Adele herself seemed uncomfortable with the turn of events, at first tearfully saying she could not accept Album of the Year.

"My Album of the Year was Lemonade, so a piece of me did die inside, as a Beyonce fan," Adele said in the media room afterwards, referring to Beyonce's album.

Adele opened the show singing her hit Hello and, later, in a tribute to George Michael, started to sing his song, Fastlove, but stopped and cursed into the microphone, apologising that she needed to start over to get it right. After finishing, she teared up.

Beyonce offered a jaw-dropping, multimedia homage to motherhood. After an introduction by her mother, Tina Knowles, she appeared as a crowned fertility goddess with her pregnant belly highlighted for the camera. She performed Love Drought and Sandcastles from Lemonade.

The singer, who had been nominated for nine awards this year - more than any other artist - in the end won only two: Best Urban Contemporary Album for Lemonade and a Music Video Prize for the song, Formation.

When she accepted the award for Best Urban Contemporary Album, she explained her ambitions for Lemonade, an album and film: "It is important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty" so they will "have no doubt that they are beautiful, intelligent and capable".

She added: "This is something I want for every child of every race."

Meanwhile, in acknowledgment of the music industry's rapidly shifting business model, three Grammys - including Best New Artist - went to Chance The Rapper, a gospel-influenced rapper from Chicago whose music was released independently and was available only on streaming services.

While Hollywood award shows this season have been notable for speeches that unquestionably addressed United States President Donald Trump, the Grammys remained mostly about the music.

Katy Perry, however, did perform wearing a "Persist" arm band and a pantsuit in homage to senator Elizabeth Warren and Mrs Hillary Clinton.

Her song concluded in front of a projection of the US Constitution.

Besides Adele's homage to George Michael, the show also included a purple-hued tribute to the late Prince, with performances by the Time, the Minneapolis funk group that often performed with Prince, and Bruno Mars.

David Bowie won all five of the nominations for his final album Blackstar, including Best Rock Song. They marked the first music Grammys for the late British singer.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2017, with the headline 'Adele's bittersweet night at the Grammys'. Print Edition | Subscribe