Beyonce and Adele both won early awards Sunday as they vied for dominance at the Grammys, with late rock icon David Bowie sweeping the side categories for his final album “Blackstar.”
Adele opened the music industry’s premier gala by singing her blockbuster hit “Hello” — putting to rest the bad memory of her Grammys performance last year, which went terribly awry when a microphone fell.
In awards announced before the main telecast, Adele picked up two Grammys including Best Pop Vocal Album for “25.”
Adele proved her enduring popularity with “25” — one of the top-selling albums in recent years — by sticking to her style of heart-wrenching ballads.
The English singer is running in major categories including Album of the Year against Beyonce, who took on a new, edgier persona on “Lemonade.”
Beyonce’s single “Formation” won Best Music Video, in her most provocative statement to date, with a video in which she tours a New Orleans ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The video rallies behind the Black Lives Matter movement, with an image of police officers surrendering as if under arrest.
Beyonce was making her first public appearance Sunday since revealing that she is pregnant with twins.
She leads the Grammys with nine nominations and could win Album of the Year and Record of the Year for the first time.
“Lemonade,” which Beyonce intertwined with a film, marked a new direction for the pop superstar as she dabbled in hip-hop, hard rock and even country.
In the film, Beyonce strongly suggested that her husband, rapper Jay Z, had been unfaithful but by the end, she forgave him.
Beyond Adele and Beyonce, dark horses for Album of the Year include “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” by Sturgill Simpson, which won Best Country Album.
Simpson has given some intellectual heft to country music through lyricism inspired by Buddhist philosophy.
Justin Bieber was nominated for “Purpose,” in a surprise nod for the Canadian singer often more associated with tabloid exploits.