Whitney-Tinged Grammys Have Highest Ratings in 28 Years

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Who says nobody cares about the Grammys anymore? The music industry's biggest awards ceremony aired last night to a whopping 39 million viewers, the most that have tuned in since 1984. That number makes it the second-highest in Grammys history. (Oh, what a long and illustrious history!) Does that mean that suddenly the Grammys are relevant again, that somehow the tides of change have been reversed? Hmm, well, probably not.

Most likely, the untimely death of pop legend Whitney Houston on Saturday sent many curious viewers to CBS last night to see how she would be memorialized. What they got was a prayer from host L.L. Cool J and a performance by Jennifer Hudson. The show didn't have much time to put together anything formal, but the news of her death certainly hung heavy over the proceedings anyway. Even through non-Houston-related performances that befuddled younger viewers and other acts that earned lots of strange feedback and plenty of criticism, this otherwise fairly unremarkable year's show was strangely buoyed by a huge death in the industry. 

We doubt this means anything significant for the future of the Grammys, which will probably settle down to its regular ever-diminishing levels next year, barring another unforeseen tragedy. Which it would be terrible to hope for, but that doesn't mean, we doubt, that somewhere, deep in the dark part of some Grammys official's heart, that wicked hope has been born. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.