February 14, 2011 / 6:35 PM / 7 years ago

Grammy TV audience hits 11-year high

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A broad mix of music stars lifted the Grammy Awards to their biggest audience in 11 years, as organizers continued to distance their program from other Hollywood galas by creating a party atmosphere for viewers.

The show, which drew more than 26 million viewers, put its spotlight on a combination of old stars such as Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and newer faces like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber singing a duet with Jaden Smith.

The Grammys, which were held on Sunday, are given out by the U.S.-based Recording Academy. In recent years, organizers have reduced the number of awards handed out on live television and instead emphasized performances to draw an audience.

“The show has been edging closer and closer to not being an awards show,” TV Guide Magazine critic Matt Roush told Reuters. “In some ways, it’s a newfangled version of the old-fashioned variety show.”

And that seems to have worked, judging by the audience.

Television network CBS on Monday said 26.66 million viewers tuned in to the Grammys to watch Cee Lo Green perform “Forget You” dressed like a peacock, and Lady Gaga emerge from a giant egg to sing “Born This Way.”

Total viewership was up roughly 3 percent from last year’s 25.87 million, CBS said.

Reviews for the show were mixed, with critic Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter calling it “lousy” as well as “frequently off-kilter and badly paced.”

Los Angeles Times music reviewer Ann Powers had good things to say about the telecast.

“Though the lineup’s generational range was impressive, in the end the spirit belonged to the future, as unpredictable and fragmented as it may be,” Powers wrote.

For Roush, one of the highlights was the performance by Green, backed by Jim Henson muppets and actress/singer Gwyneth Paltrow prancing on a piano. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it, except maybe an acid dream,” Roush said.

The Grammys, as it has in the past, also took pains to pair old acts with rising stars, as when Bob Dylan took the stage with young folk bands Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers.

“The Grammys may be the last music-business institution trying to be all things to all listeners,” wrote Jon Pareles, a critic with the New York Times.

When it came to trophies, country trio Lady Antebellum won song of the year and record of the year with “Need You Now,” and Montreal-based rockers Arcade Fire claimed best album for “The Suburbs.”

Additional reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; editing by John Whitesides

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