59th Annual Grammy Awards: Beyonce versus Adele at music's biggest night

Beyonce and Adele performing at the 59th annual Grammy Awards ceremony.
Beyonce and Adele performing at the 59th annual Grammy Awards ceremony.PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The music world gathered on Sunday (Feb 13, Monday, Singapore time) for the Grammys with the top awards a choice between a new, edgier Beyonce and the time-tested heartache ballads of Adele.

The televised bash from Los Angeles could also have political fireworks as many artists are outspoken critics of US President Donald Trump.

But the enduring picture from the Grammys may turn out to be Beyonce, who is expected to make her first public appearance since revealing that she is pregnant with twins.

Beyonce leads the Grammys with nine nominations and could win the most prestigious awards for the first time - Album of the Year for Lemonade and Record of the Year for her song Formation. Lemonade, which Beyonce intertwined with a film, marked a new direction for the pop superstar as she dabbled in hip-hop, hard rock and even country.

Formation was the most politically upfront song of Beyonce's career with a video rallying behind the Black Lives Matter movement, including an image of police officers surrendering as if under arrest.

Throughout Lemonade, Beyonce directed herself to an audience of fellow African American women with themes of resilience.

In the film, Beyonce strongly suggested that her husband, rapper Jay Z, had been unfaithful but by the end she forgave him.

Beyonce faces competition in the main categories from Adele, who proved her enduring, massive commercial popularity by sticking to her style of heart-wrenching ballads.

 

The English singer is nominated for her ubiquitous song Hello and her album 25, which has been the world's top-seller since her 21, which also triumphed at the Grammys.

Adele is scheduled to sing at the Grammys - a year after her performance was marred by a falling microphone, which hit the piano and caused her voice to veer jarringly out of tune.

Other artists who stand a chance to win the most Grammys include Toronto rapper Drake, R&B superstar Rihanna and the hip-hop celebrity fixture Kanye West.

Drake has been nominated for Views, his blockbuster collection of dance-ready tracks, and for Work, his lusty collaboration with Rihanna.

Dark horses for Album of the Year include A Sailor's Guide To Earth by Sturgill Simpson, who has given some intellectual heft to country music through lyricism inspired by Buddhist philosophy.

Justin Bieber was nominated for Purpose, in a surprise nod for the Canadian singer often more associated with tabloid exploits.

Chance the Rapper, 23, is a favorite to win Best New Artist amid acclaim for his gospel-infused hip-hop. The Chicago artist benefited from updated rules that consider streaming exclusives.

Hours before a tribute at the Grammys to Prince, the classic albums of the pop icon returned to major streaming sites such as Spotify.

The Purple One had been outspoken in his criticism of the music industry, but label Warner Brothers reached a deal as his estate tries to monetize his legacy.

Prince had previously only streamed his music on the upstart Tidal service of rap mogul Jay Z.

Katy Perry, back from a short hiatus in which she recorded new music, will use the global television platform to perform Chained To The Rhythm, her retro disco-inspired new single.

Perry - who with 95 million followers is the most popular person on Twitter - released the song on Friday after a unique social media campaign in which she sent fans around the world hunting for disco balls that held recordings of the single.

The show will also see the return of Daft Punk, the reclusive, robot-clad French electronic duo that has not performed in public since the 2014 Grammys .

Daft Punk will play with R&B sensation The Weeknd, whose music the duo recently produced. Daft Punk kicked off the weekend by opening a pop-up store in Los Angeles, although the duo has been characteristically tight-lipped on whether it plans more music or touring.

Lady Gaga - who a week ago put on a riveting performance before more than 117 million television viewers at the Super Bowl halftime show - is set for one of the more unlikely Grammy collaborations as she takes the stage with Metallica.

Gaga and Perry were among the most outspoken celebrity backers of Hillary Clinton in her campaign against Trump, raising the prospect of political statements at the Grammys.

But Gaga only addressed politics subtly at the Super Bowl as she championed a message of inclusion.