Grammys: Adele vs. Beyonce, the Tribe takes on the Donald
The Grammys bills itself as music’s biggest night; year in and year out it draws the biggest names in the music industry to the Staples Center for an eclectic array of performances, speeches and awards. This year’s show, the first since the election of President Trump, featured impactful political statements from the performers as well as the usual selection of big winners and controversial snubs.
Hosted by James Corden, the 59th Grammys took place on Feb. 12 in Los Angeles. Corden fulfilled all the usual hosting obligations, with a fair share of fun and inoffensive jokes and antics to keep the audience entertained throughout the night. The real fireworks, however, came from the performers.
Beyonce made her first live appearance since announcing her second pregnancy, winning her many plaudits. She performed “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles” from her album, Lemonade, which earned the 35-year-old a whopping nine nominations. The first political statement of the night came when Katy Perry performed her new single “Chained to the Rhythm,” ending with her holding hands with co-performer Skip Marley in front of a huge projection of the United States’ Constitution. Adele later delivered a moving rendition of George Michael’s “Fastlove,” turning the pop song into a beautiful, slow ballad. Controversially, she re-started her performance after missing a number of notes, saying that she “[Couldn’t] mess this up for him,” and was visibly emotional by the end of the performance.
For many, the highlight of the night was A Tribe Called Quest’s politically charged performance with Anderson .Paak and Busta Rhymes. Busta Rhymes opened the performance by labeling Mr. Trump “President Agent Orange” before the Tribe emerged from behind a wall with a Muslim woman in hijab, joined by racially and religiously diverse group of people. The performance ended with everyone standing together in solidarity and Q-Tip yelling “resist” repeatedly. The elephant in the room had finally been addressed directly.
Despite the amazing performances, many Upper School students were more interested in the controversial Beyonce vs. Adele debate. There’s no doubt that the two predominant artists in music in 2016 were Beyonce and Adele. Many viewed Beyonce’s Lemonade as a musical and political masterpiece and thought she would take home the lion’s share of the awards. However, Adele dominated the night winning Album, Song and Record of the year– although she shocked some by literally breaking her album award in half and splitting it with Beyoncé.
“I think Adele should have won, but I also think that Beyonce brings more of a cultural side to her music,” said Kaitlin Flores (‘19), voicing a divided opinion that many other members of the community shared.
“Beyonce’s album was so much better. It actually meant something,” said Jack Mason (‘19). “Adele was just ‘when we grow up we’re gonna still be in love’. Lemonade was surrounded by black issues in America.”
Many, like Jack, believe that Lemonade deserved the nod for its transcendent songs and videos about the current state of the United States, particularly after Trump’s election. Others think that Adele was more deserving because of 25’s enormous sales and popularity.
“I love Beyonce but look at Adele,  was the top selling album in 2015 and 2016. In my opinion they were better songs,” said Quint Schorr (‘19).
Regardless of opinion, it was Adele’s night as she took home five awards, including the big three of Album, Song and Record of the Year. The other notable big winners on the night were Chance the Rapper, who won Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album, and David Bowie, who was awarded five posthumous awards for his haunting final statement, Blackstar.