The British star outdid Beyonce, claiming the Grammy's top prizes. The annual music awards ceremony paid tribute to music icons Bowie, Prince and George Michael - while some artists got political, with calls to resist.
The big winner of the US music industry awards evening was English singer-songwriter Adele. She took home the awards in all the five categories for which she was nominated on Sunday night, including the top three categories - album, record of the year with her comeback album "25," and song of the year with her megahit "Hello."
Adele appeared to doubt that she should have won over Beyonce, whose groundbreaking album "Lemonade" was also nominated: "My artist, the artist of my life is Beyonce, and the 'Lemonade' album was so monumental and well thought-out and so beautiful and soul baring," she said in her emotional acceptance speech.
"We all (expletive) adore you," she said directly to the visibly pregnant star.
Beyonce: an ode to motherhood
Beyonce offered an epic performance during the ceremony, exposing her round belly after revealing 12 days ago that she was pregnant with twins. Despite leading with nine nominations, she only won in two categories: "Lemonade" picked up best urban contemporary album and her clip for "Formation" was chosen as best music video.
Beyonce's acceptance speech included allusions to the current political situation: "It's important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty, so they can grow in a world where they look in the mirror, first with their own families as well as in the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House and the Grammys, and see themselves," she said.
Many social media users quickly decried the racism of the Grammys to explain why Beyonce was snubbed:
Beyonce's speech wasn't the only political moment. Earlier in the evening, Katy Perry's performance of her new song, "Chained to the Rhythm," was accompanied by a huge video projection of the US Constitution. She wore a "Persist" armband, in homage to US Senator Elizabeth Warren. Her act provoked a standing ovation from the audience.
Later on in the evening, A Tribe Called Quest referred to "President Agent Orange" in their performance, which included many allusions to Donald Trumps' policies. Joining the hip hop pioneers onstage were dancers crossing a wall and women in hijabs, in reference to the wall the US president has said he wants to build along the Mexican border and his travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries.
Chicago-born artist Chance the Rapper, 23, outdid other established performers, such as Drake and Kanye West, by winning best rap album for "Coloring Book." He also won in the categories best new artist and best rap performance. He wore a black hoodie with "Obama" on the back and "thank you" on the front.
Tributes to three late greats
David Bowie won posthumously all four awards he was nominated for. His final album, "Black Star," was released days before he died of cancer last year. It won best alternative music album and engineered album, non-classical. The title track grabbed best rock song and rock performance.
Bruno Mars offered an electrifying tribute to Prince, with a spot-on impersonation of the artist, wearing a purple jacket to revisit the Purple One's 1984 hit "Let's Go Crazy." Prince died in April last year, just a few months after Bowie.
Adele was in charge of the tribute to George Michael, who died on Christmas Day at the age of 53. Midway through her somber version of his song "Fastlove," she abruptly stopped, asking to start over again: "I can't mess this up for him," she said. Her second shot was flawless and heartfelt, although it left the star teary-eyed.
eg/kbm (AFP, dpa, AP)