The biggest story of Sunday night’s Grammys was the contest between Adele and Beyoncé, with both artists going head-to-head in three of the night’s four major categories. In the end, it was Adele who took home the awards for all three—but not without pulling something of a Kanye during her Album of the Year acceptance speech, using it as a way to give Beyoncé credit for her momentous visual album, Lemonade.
Adele (who was even sporting what appeared to be a lemon-shaped pin on her dress) had already offered Bey quite a bit of praise moments earlier while accepting Record of the Year, which she won for “Hello” over Beyoncé’s “Formation.” “My idol is Queen Bey, and I adore you. You move my soul every single day. And you have done for nearly 17 years,” said Adele to her visibly pregnant competitor. “I adore you, and I want you to be my mum, all right?”
But when a shocked Adele was called onstage again to accept the award for Album of the Year, this time for 25, her praise for Beyoncé went even further: “I can’t possibly accept this award, and I’m very humbled and very grateful and gracious, but the artist of my life is Beyoncé, and this album for me, the Lemonade album, was so monumental.”
Adele isn’t the first Grammy winner to feel another nominee was more deserving—Macklemore famously publicized his apology text to Kendrick Lamar after winning Best Rap Album at the 2014 Grammys in what was widely considered an upset. Adele’s speech may have been contradictory, since she first said she could not accept the award but then wound up accepting it anyway, but she did at the very least manage to seize the moment of her triumph and turn it into a Beyoncé tribute.
Adele’s full Album of the Year acceptance speech is below:
As you can see, it took an army to make me strong and willing again to do it. And I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Five years ago, when I was last here, I was pregnant, and I didn’t know. And I was awarded that shortly after, I found out shortly after, which was the biggest blessing of my life. And in my pregnancy, and through becoming a mother, I lost a lot of myself. I struggled and I still do struggle being a mum. It’s really hard. But tonight winning this feels kind of full-circle and like I’m coming back to myself.
But I can’t possibly accept this award, and I’m very humbled and very grateful and gracious, but the artist of my life is Beyoncé, and this album for me, the Lemonade album, was so monumental, and so well thought-out and so beautiful and soul-bearing. We all got to see another side of you that you don’t always let us see, and we appreciate that. And all us artists 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. Agreements, I appreciate it. The Academy, I love you, my manager, my husband, and my son. You’re the only reason I do it. Thank you so much. Thank you very much to everybody.