The 2021 Grammys made history and turned heads — but it still couldn’t win the ratings game.
Sunday night’s annual music awards on CBS (see the winners here) saw everything from a record-breaking number of wins from Beyoncé, an NSFW performance from Cardi B and killer styles from a mostly-remote gaggle of celebs.
But all the pole twerking in the world couldn’t boost the numbers for the oft-maligned event, which regularly struggles with accusations of racism and rigged voting.
Early ratings from Nielsen have the awards drawing a measly 7.9 million total viewers, however the numbers are expected to climb a bit when adjustments are made for time zones. Still, they’re not expected to do better than 2020’s awards — in fact, they may just be at record low levels, according to the Wrap. This article will be updated as the final numbers come in.
Last year, 18.7 million viewers tuned into the broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which aired in pre-pandemic January. The numbers were down by about 1.2 million from 2019, when the program saw a boost in viewers — 19.9 million pairs of eyeballs — after 2018’s particularly poor showing.
Like last year, Billie Eilish scooped up her awards, albeit reluctantly, and BTS continued to make waves with a new American audience.
But this year differed in the challenges brought on by the pandemic. The awards were filmed at the much-less glamorous LA Convention Center, with some cameos from iconic venues around the country. Though some stars dazzled on a red carpet, it wasn’t the usual fashionable affair.
Still, performances by female performers such as Billie Eilish, Brittany Howard and newly-anointed Best New Artist winner Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B — in their first-ever live throwdown of their No. 1 smash “WAP” — ruled the night.
The performance oozed sexiness as Cardi and Megan writhed, twerked and grinded together on a huge bed.
Meanwhile, Taylor Swift won her third Album of the Year Grammy — the most ever by any woman — for her quarantine LP “Folklore” and Eilish won her second consecutive Record of the Year gramophone for “Everything I Wanted.”
H.E.R., in a stunning upset, captured Song of the Year for “I Can’t Breathe,” a tune written after George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement that intensified in its wake.