A bumper 40 million US viewers watched Sunday’s Grammy Awards, drawn in by the death of Whitney Houston and the performance comeback of Adele, and kept watching by a controversial religious stage act by rapper Nicki Minaj.
The telecast drew 39.9 million viewers — the second-largest Grammy TV audience ever and the biggest since 1984, ratings data showed on Monday. Last year’s Grammys show drew 26 million viewers.
But critical reaction was mixed. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times called the show “one of the dullest Grammy ceremonies in recent memory”, and said “there was nothing forward-looking” about Adele’s Grammy-sweeping album 21. The Washington Post’s Chris Richards criticised the Grammys for not using Houston’s death as an opportunity to “memorialise a voice that once embodied the excellence the awards claim to celebrate,” saying the show instead consisted of “disjointed collaborations”.
On the Grammy stage, singer and actor Jennifer Hudson paid tribute to Houston with a heartfelt rendition of “I Will Always Love You”. Dolly Parton, who wrote the ballad that became one of Houston’s biggest hits, said on Monday she was “brought to tears again last night” by Hudson’s performance, which quickly became one of the most-searched topics on the internet. Whitney — The Greatest Hits shot to No.2 on the iTunes album chart on Monday.
Minaj made waves with a Catholic church-inspired performance of “Roman’s Holiday” that was condemned by the Catholic League. The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman called it an “ungodly bad performance” and British paper The Telegraph said it was the night’s “most bizarre/head scratching performance”.
The fusion of old and new bands drew mixed reviews, with Goodman calling the collaboration between the reunited Beach Boys, Maroon 5 and Foster the People “just sad” and “completely wrong”.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2012.