Grammys attracts second biggest audience in 20 years

Grammy Awards Adele and Mumford and Sons Adele presented Mumford and Sons with the album of the year gong, which was one of six she won in 2012

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The Grammy Awards scored their second-biggest audience in 20 years on Sunday.

A total of 28.1 million Americans watched this year's broadcast, although the figure was down 30% on last year.

The 2012 ceremony, in which stars paid tribute to Whitney Houston, who had died a day earlier, won a US television audience of 39.9 million.

Sunday's show saw awards for Adele, The Black Keys, Fun and Gotye, with the coveted album of the year prize going to British band Mumford and Sons.

The Grammys TV audience has risen steadily since organisers decided to focus on performances over speeches.

It now outpaces the Emmys and Golden Globes, but comes second to the Oscars, which traditionally scores an audience of more than 30 million.

All of the awards shows are dwarfed by the Super Bowl, however. Beyonce's recent half-time performance was seen by 108 million people in America alone, with the peak audience of 164.1 million for the match itself.

A-game performances

Sunday's Grammy broadcast garnered mostly positive reviews, with Chris Richards from The Washington Post writing: "For the first time in too long, the Grammys telecast was a good time in and of itself - a refreshingly coherent celebration of our increasingly incoherent popscape."

Justin Timberlake made his musical return on the show, after a break of six years. Rihanna, Sting and Taylor Swift also performed, while Bruno Mars joined Ziggy and Damian Marley in a tribute to the late reggae star Bob Marley.

There was also a tribute to the late US rocker Levon Helm, led by Elton John, Mumford and Sons, Mavis Staples, the Zac Brown Band and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes.

Richards added: "There were A-game performances, trophy-hoarders who deserved to win them and very few reasons to wince, grouse or wish you were watching Downton Abbey."

Rihanna performing at the Grammy Awards Rihanna performed Stay with collaborator and singer-songwriter Mikky Ekko

A less favourable Guardian blog post read: "Are the Grammys voted for a by a bunch of people who don't really listen to music? It certainly seems that way.

"Witness not just the inclusion of the easy-to-deride Mumford & Sons in the album of the year category, but their triumph in that category over Frank Ocean."

Mikael Wood of The Los Angeles Times said the simpler moments, like Rihanna performing her ballad Stay, stood out.

"In a three-and-a-half hour blur of high-tech spectacle, these performances felt like reaffirmations of core musical values - honest, unaffected, simple," he said.

Meanwhile, Rob Sheffield at Rolling Stone Magazine said in recent years "the Grammys bash has turned into the awards show that really aims to capture the crackle and sparkle of pop music, in all its demented excess.

"And last night was full of demented moments. It had R&B crooners and big-cheddar teen smoothies."

Sales rise

As expected, many of the winners found themselves shooting up the iTunes chart following the Los Angeles ceremony.

Pre-orders of Justin Timberlake's forthcoming record The 20/20 Experience rocketed, putting him at number seven in the US iTunes album chart a month before its release date.

The Top 5 on the chart is dominated by Grammy artists - including Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, Fun's debut album Some Nights and The Black Keys' El Camino.

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