by Natalie Finn | Mon., Feb. 13, 2017 5:00 AM
We already knew going in that the 2017 Grammy Awards were going to ultimately amount to a showdown between Beyoncé and Adele—facing off as they were in four categories, including Album and Record of the Year.
But while we expected memorable moments from both, we didn't predict quite as much as excitement as was dished out by the two singers all on their own.
In what proved to be a night to remember on so many levels, from the performances to the wins (and losses) to host James Corden's deft, enthusiastic job behind the wheel (at one point quite literally), a number of things moved us every which way. Here's a sampling:
1. Adele Makes Lemonade: What a roller coaster of a night it was for Adele! But we'll start at the highest point: She won Album of the Year for 25, her second win in that category, and in so doing swept the five awards she was nominated for—four of them requiring wins over Beyoncé, whom Adele paid tribute to during two separate trips to the stage.
"My dream and my idol is Queen B, and I adore you," the British singer said in winning Record of the Year for "Hello" as Beyoncé appeared quite touched. "You move my soul every single day and you have done for nearly 17 years. I adore you, and I want you to be my mummy. Alright?"
Adele also paid homage to Lemonade during the last moments of the night, calling it "monumental," "beautiful and soul bearing." "All us artists adore you," she said. "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."
In lesser news, this means that somehow Beyoncé has never won Album of the Year, and is 0-4 in fact, in that Grammy category. We're not quite sure what the Recording Academy is waiting for, if it wasn't Lemonade.
2. Once, Twice, Three Times a Beyoncé: Baffling losses aside, pretty much every move she (or her offspring) made was a sight to behold last night.
It took a full minute to even understand what we were seeing when she first took the stage, seemingly wearing a gold, beaded almost-nothing—meaning the pregnant super-star's bare belly was on full display—before the yellow fabric billowing around her took over and, wait a sec, now she's wearing a gold beaded dress...
Wait, now it's the costume again! Back to the dress, back to the costume...Ah!!! Ultimately, the dress proved itself to be the reality. In the most visually striking and symbol-laden performance of the night, Beyoncé was simultaneously real mother, Earth mother and queen of everything as she thoughtfully stroked her stomach and radiated power among the troupe of dancers who joined her. In the end it was tribal ritual-meets-Alvin Ailey-meets Lemonade—good to the last drop.
Then, when Lemonade won Best Urban Contemporary Album, Bey said more than usual in these situations, reading a prepared statement that included this message: "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 through 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're beautiful, intelligent and capable."
She was also a winner for Best Music Video, for "Formation."
3. Adele Takes a Mulligan: A year after her performance on the same stage was marred by technical difficulties, the now 15-time Grammy winner opened the show flawlessly with "Hello"...but for what could have been a variety reasons—the unfamiliar arrangement, lack of prep time, nerves, emotions, who knows?—she stopped mid-performance of George Michael's "Fastlove," unhappy with the sound.
"I know it's live TV, I'm so sorry, I f--ked up, I can't do it again like last year," she said. "I'm sorry for swearing and I'm sorry for starting again. Can we please start it again? I'm sorry," Adele apologized again, shaking her head, as the audience erupted in applause. "I can't mess this up for him. I'm sorry. I can't, I'm sorry for swearing...I'm sorry, Ken [Erlich, executive producer]."
Adele proceeded to start over, and was perfect. Still, she looked visibly distressed even as she received a standing ovation, then she hurried offstage.
The night immediately perked up once again, with Adele winning Song of the Year for "Hello"; she once again apologized (believe us, dear, you are forgiven) and mouthed "I love you" to Beyoncé (after beating her in the category). Co-writer Greg Kurstin was immediately cut off, however, resulting in a chorus of boos just as Solange of all people was getting the spotlight to present.
So when Adele won for Record of the Year later, she let Kurstin kick things off. "You cut him off last time!" she scolded the show.
4. Blue Ivy Carter Holds Court: Not only was the 5-year-old channeling Prince in a pink tux and ruffly cravat (the late artist having teamed up with the child's mom for one of the all-time great Grammy performances back in 2004, but she very much had the run of the place, including when she joined James Corden's obligatory "Carpool Karaoke" bit.
5. Pantsless for a Reason: Best Pop Duo/Group Performance winner 21 Pilots gave an unexpectedly touching speech after ditching their pants at their seats and heading to the stage in their boxer-briefs. "This story starts in Columbus, Ohio," Tyler Joseph said, figuring the audience was a little...curious. "It was a few years ago, before [Josh Dun] and I were able to make money playing music. i called him up and said, 'Hey, Josh, you want to come over to my rental house and watch the Grammys?' And he said, 'Yeah.' He was hanging there...As we were watching we noticed that every single one of us was in our underwear. And seriously, Josh turned to me—and we were no one at that time--and he turned to me and said, 'If we ever go to the Grammys, if we ever win a Grammy, we should receive it just like this.'" Pause for massive applause.
"So not only is this amazing, but I want everyone who's watching at home to know, you could be next. So watch out, OK? Because anyone, from anywhere, can do anything."
They certainly inspired James Corden.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS
6. Taking a Chance: Back on the brass tacks side of the music biz, Chance The Rapper had already made history with Coloring Book, the first streaming-only album to ever be nominated for a Grammy. But 23-year-old Chancellor Johnathan Bennett topped himself, winning Best New Artist, Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance for "No Problem."
Welcome to the future. As much as the Grammys are apparently set in their ways in certain respects and vinyl is kinda making a comeback, Chance The Rapper just kicked open the door for a whole flock of artists who are likely to skip the whole hard-copy portion of the album-release business in coming years.
7. Vive La Resistance: Warmly welcomed back to the Grammys in celebration of their first album in nearly two decades, We Got It From Here...Thank You For Your Service, and close to a year since losing founding member Phife Dawg, A Tribe Called Quest sent the most resonating political message of the night with their performance of "Award Tour" and, after toppling a none-too-subtle wall erected onstage, "We the People."
The pioneering hip-hop group were joined by Anderson.Paak and Busta Rhymes —and then by dozens of people representing a variety of ethnicities and cultures—and Q-Tip ended the performance by chanting "resist!"
"We'd like to say to all those people around the world, all those people who are pushing people in power to represent them: Tonight, we represent you," Q-Tip said.
Katy Perry, who sang her pointed new song "Chained to the Rhythm" and wore an armband reading "Persist"; Jennifer Lopez; Beyoncé and Laverne Cox were also among those who sent a politically tinged message from the Grammys stage last night.
James Corden kept the tone light on his end, but he did remind us, while noting how viewers were free to interact with the Grammys via social media, that "any negative tweets that you see are fake tweets."