It was the battle of the divas for the biggest award of the Grammys this year, with Adele and Beyonce the clear frontrunners to take home Album of the Year.

In the end, Adele scored the award - one of several for the night - for 25, but she herself felt Beyonce was the worthy winner for her acclaimed Lemonade visual album.

In an emotional speech closing the mammoth award ceremony, Adele declared the award truly belonged to Beyonce, who was standing just feet away in the front row.

"I can't possibly accept this award," a tearful Adele announced.

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"I'm very grateful and very gracious, but my artist of my life is Beyonce, and this album for me ... the Lemonade album was so monumental, well thought out and so beautiful and soul-baring. 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 f***ing adore you," she said, marking her second f-bomb of the night (after using a previous speech to apologise for her first).

"You are our light. The way you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel, is empowering. You make them stand up for themselves, and I love you. I always have, and I always will," she told Beyonce, who herself was fighting back tears.

Adele even snapped the coveted award in two, apparently so she could give half to Bey.

Adele poses in the press room with the awards for album of the year, song of the year, record of the year and best, best pop solo performance and best vocal album. Photo / AP
Adele poses in the press room with the awards for album of the year, song of the year, record of the year and best, best pop solo performance and best vocal album. Photo / AP

Just minutes earlier, taking out the Record of the Year award, Adele had already paid tribute to Beyonce, announcing: "My dream and my idol is Queen Bey. I adore you, you move my soul every single day and you have done for nearly 17 years. I want you to be my mummy, alright?"

Adele was more blunt backstage after her Album of the Year win, telling reporters of Beyonce: "I thought it was her year. What the f*** does she have to do to win album of the year? ... The other artists who mean that much to me are all dead."

Beyonce poses in the press room with the awards for best music video and best urban contemporary album. Photo / AP
Beyonce poses in the press room with the awards for best music video and best urban contemporary album. Photo / AP

It was a triumphant end to the night for Adele, who suffered an embarrassing setback earlier in the evening when her surprise George Michael tribute went off the rails. The star looked despondent after she stopped the performance one minute in, unhappy with her performance.

"I know it's live TV, I'm sorry," she interrupted before a series of expletives that were bleeped for viewers watching at home.

"I need to start again. I f**ked up.

"I can't do it again like last year. I'm sorry for swearing and sorry for starting again. Can we please start it again?" she pleaded.