Two years ago, when Beyoncé lost to Beck for album of the year at the Grammy Awards, Kanye West was not happy, and declared that Beck should “respect artistry” and give his award away to Queen Bey.
On Sunday night, Grammy history repeated itself — Beyoncé didn’t win album of the year. Again. Except this time, the superstar artist who got upset was the one who actually won the prize.
“I can’t possibly accept this award,” Adele said tearfully as she stood on stage with her trophy for “25,” her smash album that has sold more than 10 million copies in the United States. “I’m very humbled and I’m very grateful and gracious, but my artist of my life is Beyoncé.”
In case anyone doubted her, Adele apparently broke her trophy on the Grammy stage after the cameras cut, leading to widespread speculation that it was done purposefully so she could share the award with Beyoncé. (However, a photo taken of Adele in the Grammys press room shows the singer holding all five of her Grammy trophies intact.)
Adele used most of her acceptance speech to rave about “Lemonade,” Beyoncé’s powerful, deeply personal, visual album that made a huge impact when it dropped last spring. “The ‘Lemonade’ album was just so monumental, Beyoncé, it was so monumental, and so well thought-out,” Adele gushed. “And so beautiful and soul-bearing and we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let us see, and we appreciate that.”
“All us artists here adore you. You are our light,” she continued, as the cameras panned to Beyoncé, who had tears in her eyes. “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.”
It’s not unusual for celebrities to feel bad about winning a prize when they feel that another artist — particularly one they admire — was more deserving of the award. (See: Macklemore’s text to Kendrick Lamar when he won best rap album.) But it’s far more rare to see a star use most of their time on stage in front of millions of viewers to declare that they can’t even accept the honor.
If it seemed over the top, well, you might not be familiar with Adele’s love for Beyoncé. She’s talked about being a diehard fan for years, and after “Lemonade” dropped , she posted an awestruck Instagram of her caressing a picture of her idol.
At the Grammys, Adele’s guilt over winning went even further. Following the ceremony, Adele explained to the media why she gushed so much over Beyoncé in her speech. “It was her time to win,” Adele told reporters. “My view is kind of, what the f— does she have to do to win album of the year?”
She later added: “I’m of course very, very grateful having won it. But I felt the need [to give the acceptance speech] ’cause I love her, because I felt like she was more than worthy.”
Adele first heard Beyoncé when she was 11 years old and came across the Destiny’s Child track, “No, No, No.”
“I fell in love immediately with her, and that was when I was 11, and I’m 28 now — and the way that I felt when I first heard ‘No, No, No’ was exactly the same as how I felt when I heard ‘Lemonade last year.”
“Lemonade,” Adele said, showed a different side of Beyoncé “that we haven’t seen and I felt blessed to be brought into that situation.” The visuals were quite new, “and the Grammys are very traditional but I just thought this year would be the year that they would kind of go with the tide.”
This is now the the third time Beyoncé has lost out on the album of the year prize: In 2010, she lost to Taylor Swift for “Fearless.” It’s safe to say that if it happens a fourth time, celebrities will not let this stand. Even prior to the album of the year announcement, when Adele’s “Hello” won record over the year over Beyoncé’s “Formation,” Adele gave Queen Bey a shout out:
“My dream and my idol is Queen Bey, and I adore you. 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?”