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The big winner at the Grammys talks about memories of George Michael, her love for Beyoncé, her writing process, the people that have helped her achieve so much success and more...



Music superstar Adele was the big winner at the 59th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. She made history at this year’s Grammys, taking home five awards including Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year, making her the first artist to win those three major awards twice.

The Hello singer scooped five awards in total [Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album were the other two], beating off competition from the likes of Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Drake.

Picking up the Best Record prize she said: “As you can see it took an army to make me strong and willing again enough to do it. But thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Five years ago, when I was last here, I also 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. And I’ve struggled, and I still do struggle being a mom. It’s really hard. But tonight winning this kind of feels full-circle and like a bit of me has come back to myself.”

She continued by paying tribute to fellow artist Beyoncé saying: “But I can’t possibly accept this award. And I’m very humbled and I’m very grateful and gracious. But my artist of my life is Beyoncé. And this album to me, the Lemonade album, is just so monumental. Beyoncé, it’s 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. And all us artists here, we 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.”

Finally she declared: “Grammys, 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.”

Adele later broke her award in half so that she could give the other part to Beyoncé.

The 28-year-old opened the 59th annual Grammy Awards with a stripped down version of Hello. She also performed a tribute to the late George Michael by singing the former Wham! Singer’s hit Fast Love, however a few seconds into the song she stopped and said:

“I’m sorry for swearing and I’m sorry for starting again… I can’t mess this up for him” and started from the top. Adele finished the song without a hitch; she faced the crowd with tears in her eyes and received a standing ovation.

Backstage at the event, Adele spoke about her incredible night, her memories of George Michael, her love for Beyoncé, her writing process, the people that have helped her achieve so much success and more…


Adele, congratulations on your Grammy wins.
Adele: Thank you.

You’ve become the first artist in history to sweep the top three awards – Record, Song and Album of the Year twice. What does it mean to you to accomplish that?
Adele: Yeah well the Grammys mean a lot to me obviously; it’s kind of ‘the’ award show. So I’m very, very humbled and that accomplishment, I feel very lucky to have achieved.

“Like I said in my speech, for me, my Album of the Year was Lemonade, so a piece of me did die inside, as a Beyoncé stan [super fan], I’m not going to lie because I was completely rooting for her. I voted for her.”

But I’m incredibly humbled, especially being from the UK. It is an amazing feat to have achieved so I am incredibly humbled by it and America has always been very, very kind to me and I don’t even know why to be honest. I don’t get it. But no, I feel amazing about it, of course, and it’s an amazing thing to show my son. And I’m raising him to respect women and he knows I’m a powerful force, he feels it just at home, let alone when he comes to work with me and he comes everywhere. So yeah.

And what does it mean that the song Hello has become like a worldwide anthem?
Adele: It was hard work writing this album. You know, it was daunting following 21 up. I felt the pressure writing 25 – very, very much. And for a very long time during that process I didn’t really find my voice and I don’t know if I did find it, even towards the end. Hello actually started when I was writing it with the lyric ‘Hello misery’ – so I’m sure you can imagine the mood that I was in [laughs] when I was writing that; miserable! But it developed and Greg Kurstin, who I wrote with, was like, ‘Hmm I’m not sure about that line, I don’t know about ‘Hello misery’, that’s a bit weird’ so he changed it to ‘Hello, it’s me.’ [Laughs] But yeah, of course, I was gone for so long, I had my baby and I raised him through the toddler years and then I sort of slowly edged my way back into work. And I didn’t think anyone would care. I thought the commercial that we had in England and also shortly followed afterwards, I thought no-one would know it was me – but thank god they did otherwise that would have been a really expensive disaster! But no, of course, I’m always, always appreciative of all of the love that I’m shown.


What does it mean to you to pay tribute to George Michael and what were some of your early memories of him?
Adele: Well, we could be hear a while! First of all I was devastated by that, my rehearsals were great, I had a bit of a shaky rehearsal and I’d been working really hard on this tribute for a month, literally every day. I did it with Hans Zimmer. And I was in his studio even when he couldn’t see me, just sitting there waiting for him to give me some time, which he did very graciously. My earliest memory of me being a lone fan out of my family was Fast Love, it was when the video came out for that and I was blown away by how hot he was. It’s actually quite exceptional how good looking he was. And I was young, I was about 10. And I heard the vulnerability in that song, especially in the middle eight where it goes from being a little bit sleazy to saying, ‘In the absence of security, I made my way into the night..’ and ‘I lost my way’ basically. And I recognised that, I didn’t relate to it when I was 10 because that would be weird, but that song, I was very, very adamant.

“I was devastated on Christmas Day [the day George Michael died], I had to go for a walk on my own, and just breathe for a while. And on Boxing Day, which is the 26th for us, I said to Simon, my partner, I have to do that tribute.”

And they didn’t want a tribute at first, his family and camp and stuff like that, and they came back and were very specific that it would be me and I was like, ‘Great, I’ve got something in the pipeline, if you want me to do it, I’ll do it.’ But I’ve found him to be one of the truest icons because a lot of time with people that are that globally known and famous there tends to be, not a fake-ness in a bad way, but they put on this massive bravado, this alter ego to protect themselves, and rightly so and I completely understand and appreciate that. But, for him, it didn’t always seem to be solely based on a look or about an assumption. And also he was very British, no matter where his career or his love life took him, he always remained true to Britain. And they gave him a hard time. The British press can be, ‘I love you, I don’t know if I mean that’ [laughs], but they really gave him a hard time and he still stayed loyal to the very end. And that no matter how much I try and escape Britain sometimes, my roots are there. So I relate to that. And I also took great comfort in him, the bigger my career got, in trying to remain myself. And it was an honour to pay tribute to him.

Your records always sound so incredible, they’re not over-produced, they’re almost like demos that sound amazing and you’re in someone’s living room.
Adele: They’re all demos.

How involved do you get in the way those records sound?
Adele: I am a control freak. Actually, there’s a whole other version of 21, which I have spoken about before. Nothing ever beats a demo, for any artist, in my opinion. Whenever I’ve heard the originals of their songs, there’s a passion and an urgency in demos which can never seem to be re-enacted,
especially in my case. But yeah, no, I’m very, very… I sit there like a backstreet driver. I don’t know how to work a computer, I do have an Apple, it hasn’t been on for about a year. But I sit behind and go, ‘What’s that bit? Let’s do this bit?’ And I reference other records and sounds that I’ve heard from the past, or current hits. I like to think of myself as very involved. I definitely wrote a lot less of this record than I did of 21, but that was because I had a bad drinking habit on 21 so I couldn’t quite get the inspiration this time around. [laughs]


Hello became a standard almost immediately, which is so rare. Can you talk a bit more about how it emerged? Greg [Kurstin] said he was playing moody chords, did the words all come out at once and where did the ‘other side’ line come from?
Adele: Sure. Yeah so he was playing some moody chords, that’s all that anyone ever plays for me, whenever we get in the studio, because that’s the kind of mood I’m in. It started out, like I said, the original line, we were just messing around, and then the line, ‘Hello misery’ came out, so he pulled me up on that immediately. He was like, ‘Maybe you should go meditate or something.’ [laughs] So I went and tried to be a bit like Zen and then I came back, we wrote the first two voices really quickly actually, which tends to be the case in, to date, my biggest songs. But the chorus, we had three different choruses for Hello actually. There was one that had a very country vibe; I’m hugely inspired by country music. And then I was a bit concerned about the chorus that you all know because it obviously goes quite high and I didn’t know if I could replicate that, and I knew I was going on tour as well. The tour was actually booked before I got pregnant and then I got pregnant so I was like, [does the peace sign] ‘Peace out’. [Laughs] So I knew I would have to hit that note every night and obviously it would be an opener once the verse was written and stuff because it says, ‘Hello’. So yeah, we changed it a few times and then we settled on that chorus. And ‘the other side’, it’s the other side of being a grown up, it’s the other side of my relationship with all my friends and my ex-boyfriends, it’s from death, my Granpy, my Grandfather, he’s a huge part of my life even though he’s been gone for 18 years. So it’s kind of the other side of not knowing, which, you know, I don’t know if I lost touch with a lot of my friends because of how famous I got or because you grow up. All of my friends tell me they lost touch with a lot of people as well, with the way that life changes, whether it’s my circumstance or a different one. But yeah, I’m glad you feel like that about that song, that it might be a bit of a standard.

What you said to Beyoncé was so beautiful and such a tender moment. Can you talk a little bit about why you felt the need to say it and also did you guys get a chance to speak?
Adele: We did speak, yeah. I spoke to her before just to let her know how honoured and privileged I felt to be nominated alongside her. And we spoke afterwards as well and she was very gracious and humble as always, as all of you could expect from her. The reason I felt the need to say something was because my Album of the Year is Lemonade, she is my icon of my whole life. I was 11 years old, I might get emotional actually, I was 11 years old and I was at school in year six, just before I moved up to our high school, that’s all probably mixed up with American and English schools, and I was with some girlfriends and we were practising a song for an assembly with our friends with all our family and stuff. Obviously it was probably my recommendation that we do a Spice Girls song and they were like, ‘Have you heard No No No?’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no I haven’t’. [Laughs] And they played it to me and I literally remember it so clearly how I felt hearing her voice, hearing all their voices, but hearing her specifically. And then I got home and we’d just started getting the internet, luckily my mum’s boyfriend at the time built websites so he managed to find me some photographs of her. And 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.

The other people that make me feel like that, they’re all dead, so I am living off of music that they made when they were alive. Whereas for her to be making such relevant music for that long of a period and still affect all of us, it’s not just me. There are friendships that I have that are completely defined in us being complete Beyoncé stans, you know, like I don’t take it when it comes to anyone not liking Beyoncé – you can’t be in my life, you simply can’t! [Laughs] So I felt the need to do it and also I feel like it was her time to win. I feel like this album, I said it earlier, is another side to her we haven’t seen, and I felt blessed to be brought into that situation. Obviously the visual is very new and the Grammys are very traditional but I just thought this year would be the year that they would go with the tide. And I am of course very, very grateful having won it but I felt the need because I love her, because I felt like she was more than worthy and that’s pretty much it really. Thank you.