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Adele breaks her Album of the Year Grammy in half | © Frank Micelotta/REX/Shutterstock
Adele breaks her Album of the Year Grammy in half | © Frank Micelotta/REX/Shutterstock

Adele Sweeps the Grammys, Curses on Stage After George Michael Tribute Flub

Picture of Ryan Kristobak
Music Editor
Updated: 27 February 2017

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards arrived on Sunday evening, bringing a predicted pair of sweeps by Adele and the late David Bowie, as well as a blizzard of star-powered performances, some magnificent, some forgettable, and some that weren’t afraid to get political.

“I know it’s live TV, I’m sorry, I need to start again. I fucked up. I can’t do it again like last year. I’m sorry for swearing and I’m sorry for starting again… I can’t mess this up for him.”

No one could have expected Adele, one of the most revered vocalists of the past two decades, would have to stop her tribute performance of George Michael’s 1996 hit song “Fastlove,” but after last year’s piano technical issues, a visibly upset Adele wasn’t going to let history repeat itself. Thankfully, the second start went off without a hitch, and Adele received the approval of the audience and the praise of celebrities online.

Despite cusses and nearly tears, the rest of the evening went as perfectly as possible for Adele, who took home a trophy in each of the five categories she was nominated—including winning Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year, just as she did in 2012.

Yet Adele’s success meant that Beyoncé once again failed to secure the year’s best album award, just as her self-titled album lost to Beck’s Morning Phase in 2014. When taking the stage for the Grammys’ top prize, Adele dedicated her speech to Beyoncé and the impact of Lemonade.

“I can’t possibly accept this award, and I’m very humbled and very grateful and gracious, but my life is Beyoncé, and the album to me, the Lemonade album, Beyoncé, was so monumental, and so well thought out,” Adele said, with both her and Beyoncé tearing up. All of us artists fucking 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.”

Then, taking a page from Mean Girls, Adele broke the Grammy in two (as seen above) and reportedly gave half of her award to Beyoncé. Then, during her stop in the press room, Adele asked the eternal question: “What the fuck does she have to do to win album of the year?”

Beyoncé did take home two trophies that evening, Lemonade winning Best Urban Contemporary Album and “Formation” winning best music video.

“We all experience pain and loss, and often we become inaudible,” Beyoncé said while accepting Lemonade‘s singular win. “My intention for the film and album was to create a body of work that would give a voice to our pain, our struggles, our darkness, 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 up in a world where they look in the mirror—first to their own families as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House, and the Grammys—and see themselves. And have no doubt that they are beautiful, intelligent, and capable. This is something I want for every child of every race. And I feel it’s vital that we learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes.”

David Bowie was another big winner, earning four Grammy awards, including Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Alternative Music Album. Amazingly, Bowie only had three Grammy victories prior to this posthumous honor, including both a Lifetime Achievement Award and Hall of Fame Award, as well as 1985’s Best Music Video.

While seemingly every artist to exist performed at this year’s Grammys ceremony, the night’s two best performances went to Beyoncé and A Tribe Called Quest (along with Anderson .Paak, Consequence, and Busta Rhymes).

Performing “Love Draught” and “Sandcastles” off Lemonade, the now-pregnant-with-twins Beyoncé traded in her fierce dance sequences for a variety of references to prominent female religious figures, including the African goddess Mami Wata, the Greco-Roman goddess Venus, the Yoruban goddess Oshun, the Hindu goddess Kali, and the Virgin Mary. Put simply, it was gorgeous from start to finish.

While the majority of performers slipped in slight jabs at President Donald Trump, his administration, and the general political climate of the world, never letting issues take the spotlight, A Tribe Called Quest figuratively (and essentially literally) busted that wall down.

“I just want to thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States. I want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. When we come together—we the people!” Busta Rhymes exclaimed before the rest of the performers burst through the backdrop, Q-Tip holding the hand of a young woman wearing a hijab and several other kids of various races, gender, and religious identities joining the hip-hop icons on stage.

Performing “We The People” off their new album We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, the hook’s lyrics provide little surprise that their performance was the night’s loudest in resistance:

“All you Black folks, you must go
All you Mexicans, you must go
And all you poor folks, you must go
Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways
So all you bad folks, you must go”

Check out some of the night’s award-winners below.

Record of the Year:

WINNER: “Hello” — Adele
“Formation” — Beyoncé
“7 Years” — Lukas Graham
“Work” — Rihanna Featuring Drake
“Stressed Out” — Twenty One Pilots

Album of the Year:

WINNER: 25 Adele
— Beyoncé
Purpose — Justin Bieber
Views — Drake
A Sailor’s Guide To Earth — Sturgill Simpson

Song of the Year:

WINNER: “Hello” — Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)
“Formation” — Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles & Michael L. Williams II, songwriters (Beyoncé)
“I Took A Pill In Ibiza” — Mike Posner, songwriter (Mike Posner)
“Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin & Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Justin Bieber)
“7 Years” — Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard & Morten Ristorp, songwriters (Lukas Graham)

Best New Artist:

WINNER: Chance The Rapper
Kelsea Ballerini
The Chainsmokers
Maren Morris
Anderson .Paak

Best Pop Solo Performance:

WINNER: “Hello” — Adele
“Hold Up” — Beyonce
“Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber
“Piece By Piece (Idol Version)” — Kelly Clarkson
“Dangerous Woman” — Ariana Grande

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

“Stressed Out” — Twenty One Pilots
“Closer” — The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey
“7 Years” — Lukas Graham
“Work” — Rihanna Featuring Drake
“Cheap Thrills” — Sia Featuring Sean Paul

Best Pop Vocal Album:

WINNER: 25 — Adele
Purpose — Justin Bieber
Dangerous Woman — Ariana Grande
Confident — Demi Lovato
This Is Acting — Sia

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album:

WINNER: Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin — Willie Nelson
Cinema —
Andrea Bocelli
Fallen Angels — Bob Dylan
Stages Live — Josh Groban
Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway — Barbra Streisand

Best Dance Recording:

WINNER: “Don’t Let Me Down” — The Chainsmokers featuring Daya
“Tearing Me Up” — Bob Moses
“Never Be Like You” — Flume featuring Kai
“Rinse & Repeat” — Riton featuring Kah-Lo
“Drinkee” — Sofi Tukker

Best Dance/Electronic Album:

WINNER: Skin — Flume
Electronica 1: The Time Machine — Jean-Michel Jarre
Epoch — Tycho
Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future — Underworld
Louie Vega Starring…XXVIII — Louie Vega

Best Contemporary Instrumental Album:

WINNER: Culcha Vulcha — Snarky Puppy
Human Nature
— Herb Alpert
When You Wish Upon a Star — Bill Frisell
Way Back Home: Live From Rochester, NY — Steve Gadd Band
Unpsoken — Chuck Loeb

Best Rock Performance:

WINNER: “Blackstar” — David Bowie
“Joe (Live From Austin City Limits)” — Alabama Shakes
“Don’t Hurt Yourself” — Beyoncé Featuring Jack White
“The Sound Of Silence” — Disturbed
“Heathens” — Twenty One Pilots

Best Metal Performance:

WINNER: “Dystopia” — Megadeth
“Shock Me” — Baroness
“Slivera” — Gojira
“Rotting in Vain” — Korn
“The Price Is Wrong” — Periphery

Best Rock Song:

WINNER: “Blackstar” — David Bowie, songwriter (David Bowie)
“Burn the Witch” —Radiohead, songwriters (Radiohead)
“Hardwired” — James Hetfield & Lars Ulrich, songwriters (Metallica)
“Heathens” — Tyler Joseph, songwriter (Twenty One Pilots)
“My Name Is Human” — Rich Meyer, Ryan Meyer & Johnny Stevens, songwriters (Highly Suspect)

Best Rock Album:

WINNER: Tell Me I’m Pretty — Cage The Elephant
— Blink-182
Magma — Gojira
Death Of A Bachelor — Panic! At The Disco
Weezer — Weezer

Best Alternative Music Album:

WINNER: Blackstar — David Bowie
22, A Million
— Bon Iver
The Hope Six Demolition Project — PJ Harvey
Post Pop Depression — Iggy Pop
A Moon Shaped Pool — Radiohead

Best R&B Performance:

WINNER: “Cranes in the Sky” — Solange
“Turnin’ Me Up” — BJ The Chicago Kid
“Permission” — Ro James
“I Do” — Musiq Soulchild
“Needed Me” — Rihanna

Best Traditional R&B Performance:

WINNER: “Angel” — Lalah Hathaway
“The Three Of Me” — William Bell
“Woman’s World” — BJ The Chicago Kid
“Sleeping With The One I Love” — Fantasia
“Can’t Wait” — Jill Scott

Best R&B Song:

WINNER: “Lake By the Ocean” — Hod David & Musze, songwriters (Maxwell)
“Come and See Me” — J. Brathwaite, Aubrey Graham & Noah Shebib, songwriters (PartyNextDoor Featuring Drake)
“Exchange” — Michael Hernandez & Bryson Tiller, songwriters (Bryson Tiller)
“Kiss It Better” — Jeff Bhasker, Robyn Fenty, John-Nathan Glass & Natalia Noemi, songwriters (Rihanna)
“Luv” — Magnus August Høiberg, Benjamin Levin & Daystar Peterson, songwriters (Tory Lanez)

Best Urban Contemporary Album:

WINNER: Lemonade — Beyoncé
Ology — Gallant
We Are King — KING
Malibu — Anderson .Paak
Anti — Rihanna

Best R&B Album:

WINNER: Lalah Hathaway Live — Lalah Hathaway
In My Mind
— BJ The Chicago Kid
Velvet Portraits — Terrace Martin
Healing Season — Mint Condition
Smoove Jones — Mya

Best Rap Performance:

WINNER: “No Problem” — Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
“Panda” —Desiigner
“Pop Style” — Drake Featuring The Throne
“All The Way Up” — Fat Joe & Remy Ma Featuring French Montana & Infared
“That Part” — ScHoolboy Q Featuring Kanye West

Best Rap/Sung Performance:

WINNER: “Hotline Bling” — Drake
“Freedom” — Beyoncé Featuring Kendrick Lamar
“Broccoli” — D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty
“Ultralight Beam” — Kanye West Featuring Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream
“Famous” — Kanye West Featuring Rihanna

Best Rap Song:

WINNER: “Hotline Bling” — Aubrey Graham & Paul Jefferies, songwriters (Drake)
“All The Way Up” — Joseph Cartagena, Edward Davadi, Shandel Green, Karim Kharbouch, Andre Christopher Lyon, Reminisce Mackie & Marcello Valenzano, songwriters (Fat Joe & Remy Ma Featuring French Montana & Infared)
“Famous” — Chancelor Bennett, Ross Birchard, Ernest Brown, Andrew Dawson, Kasseem Dean, Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein, Kejuan Muchita, Patrick Reynolds, Kanye West & Cydel Young, songwriters (Kanye West Featuring Rihanna)
“No Problem” — Chancelor Bennett, Dwayne Carter & Tauheed Epps, songwriters (Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz)
“Ultralight Beam” — Chancelor Bennett, Kasseem Dean, Mike Dean, Kirk Franklin, Noah Goldstein, Samuel Griesemer, Terius Nash, Jerome Potter, Kelly Price, Nico “Donnie Trumpet” Segal, Derek Watkins, Kanye West & Cydel Young, songwriters (Kanye West Featuring Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream)

Best Rap Album:

WINNER: Coloring Book — Chance The Rapper
And the Anonymous Nobody — De La Soul
Major Key — DJ Khaled
Views — Drake
Blank Face LP — ScHoolboy Q
The Life of Pablo — Kanye West

Best Country Solo Performance:

WINNER: “My Church” — Maren Morris
“Love Can Go To Hell” — Brandy Clark
“Vice” — Miranda Lambert
“Church Bells” — Carrie Underwood
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” — Keith Urban

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:

WINNER: “Jolene” — Pentatonix Featuring Dolly Parton
“Different for Girls” — Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King
“21 Summer” — Brothers Osborne
“Setting The World On Fire” — Kenny Chesney & P!nk
“Think Of You” — Chris Young With Cassadee Pope

Best Country Song:

WINNER: “Humble and Kind” — Lori McKenna, songwriter (Tim McGraw)
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” — Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen, songwriters (Keith Urban)
“Die A Happy Man” — Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur, songwriters (Thomas Rhett)
“My Church” — busbee & Maren Morris, songwriters (Maren Morris)
“Vice” — Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)

Best Country Album:

WINNER: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth — Sturgill Simpson
Big Day in a Small Town
— Brandy Clark
Full Circle — Loretta Lynn
Hero — Maren Morris
Ripcord — Keith Urban

Best New Age Album:

WINNER: White Sun II — White Sun
— John Burke
Dark Sky Island — Enya
Inner Passion — Peter Kater & Tina Guo
Rosetta — Vangelis

Best Improvised Jazz Solo:

WINNER: “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” — John Scofield, soloist
“Countdown” — Joey Alexander, soloist
“In Movement” — Ravi Coltrane, soloist
“We See” — Fred Hersch, soloist
“I Concentrate On You” — Brad Mehldau, soloist

Best Jazz Vocal Album:

WINNER: Take Me To The Alley — Gregory Porter
Sound Of Red
— René Marie
Upward Spiral — Branford Marsalis Quartet With Special Guest Kurt Elling
Harlem On My Mind — Catherine Russell
The Sting Variations — The Tierney Sutton Band

Best Jazz Instrumental Album:

WINNER: Country for Old Men — John Scofield
Book of Intuition
— Kenny Barron Trio
Dr. Um — Peter Erskine
Sunday Night At The Vanguard — The Fred Hersch Trio
Nearness — Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album:

WINNER: Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom — Ted Nash Big Band
Real Enemies — Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
Presents Monk’estra, Vol. 1 — John Beasley
Kaleidoscope Eyes: Music of the Beatles — John Daversa
All L.A. Band — Bob Mintzer

Best Latin Jazz Album:

WINNER: Tribute To Irakere: Live In Marciac — Chucho Valdés
Entre Colegas
— Andy González
Madera Latino: A Latin Jazz Perspective On The Music Of Woody Shaw — Brian Lynch & Various Artists
Canto América — Michael Spiro/Wayne Wallace La Orquesta Sinfonietta
30 – Trio Da Paz


Head over to The Grammys’ website to see the rest of the winners.