By: Elizabeth Klein
This Grammy season, everyone was buzzing about the “competition” between Adele and Beyoncé. Both artists were up for Record, Album, and Song of the Year, as well as Best Pop Solo Performance. The stereotype that two equally successful women must be rivals has long been applied to females in the music industry. However, during the 59th Grammy Awards on Sunday, Beyoncé and Adele proved that this misconception is not only silly, but downright wrong.
On Sunday night, Beyoncé picked up two Grammys for Best Music Video and Best Urban Contemporary Album. She also performed a mashup of “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles,” both songs off her Lemonade album. During her performance, the singer–who recently announced that she’s expecting twins–praised the power of motherhood. Adele won Grammys for Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Album, and Album, Record, and Song of the Year. Additionally, she stood solo under a spotlight and performed her hit song, “Hello.” The hit of the night, though, was during Adele’s acceptance speech after winning Album of the Year for 25.
After greeting the crowd and giving thanks to her recording crew, Adele expressed hesitance about receiving the Gramophone. “I can’t possibly accept this award,” the artist said. “And I’m very humbled, and I’m very grateful and gracious. But, my artist of my life is Beyoncé, and this album for me, the Lemonade album, was just so monumental. And so well-thought-out, and so beautiful and soul-baring. And we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let us see, and we appreciate that.” As Beyoncé teared up, Adele continued. “All us artists here 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.”
This certainly wasn’t the smackdown that some viewers were expecting. While both artists were up for some of the same awards, they showed that this doesn’t mean that two accomplished women cannot respect and appreciate the other’s talent. Later, backstage, Adele added, “I thought this was [Beyoncé’s] year.” Allegedly, the singer even broke her Grammy in half in a Mean Girls-esque moment and gave part of it to Beyoncé.
Some question if Beyoncé’s snub was due to Lemonade’s racial themes. The album tackles heavy issues that many black people face, such as stereotypes, police brutality, and staying strong in a world that favors people with lighter skin. The hashtag #GrammysSoWhite spread through Twitter like wildfire. It addressed the fact that in Grammy history, when a white artist and black artist are both up for an award, the white artist tends to win. Twitter user @joyridethealbum highlighted the fact that Mumford & Sons won over Frank Ocean in 2013, Daft Punk won over Kendrick Lamar in 2014, Beck won over Beyoncé in 2015, Taylor Swift won over Kendrick Lamar in 2016, and this year, Adele won over Beyoncé. Additionally, a look at the “Critical Receptions” section of Wikipedia’s articles on both 25 and Lemonade shows that every critic listed either rated the two the same or gave Beyoncé’s album higher praise.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Teen Vogue writer Chasity Cooper said about Adele’s win. “Adele is a talented artist who has earned her spot in the world of pop music. But Lemonade…was more than an album. It was a movement. During a time where black lives were being devalued by police brutality, Lemonade was that necessary boost of self-esteem for black women and men who needed to be reminded of their rich history and impact on the world as we know it presently.”
Adele seemed to recognize this on Sunday, and her regretful win seemed to convey this. Not only did her interaction with Beyoncé work to dismantle the stereotype that goes along with two talented women, but gave the issue of racial inequality a larger platform. After the Grammy Awards, Adele expressed further confusion about Beyoncé’s snub. The singer asked, “What the [expletive] does she have to do to win?”