Grammy Awards 2021: Early Numbers Show Drastic Drop in Ratings

by Josh Lanier

Beyonce and Taylor Swift set major records at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, unfortunately, no one was watching. At least that’s what the earliest numbers are showing.

Viewership data showed that about 8 million people tuned into the show, The Hollywood Reporter said. That’s less than half of last year’s audience, which pulled in an average of more than 16 million viewers. These numbers will change in the coming days as more data is released, but it isn’t looking good for CBS.

Beyonce won her 28th Grammy, the most for any woman, and Swift picked up her third album of the year. So why were ratings so low?

As streaming continues to overtake radio plays, musical genres don’t really exist anymore. Or at least, not in the way we once considered them. The landscape is fractured into tiny niches that don’t have nearly enough pull to warrant their own Grammy Award category.

But the real reason is COVID-19. People were less attuned to popular culture last year. They weren’t up on the latest albums, and, in some cases, the only songs that broke into the mainstream were because of controversy: See “WAP.”

Lionel Richie Honors Kenny Rogers at Grammys

Despite viewer people tuning in, there were still some very big moments at the Sunday show. One of the most moving was Lionel Richie’s tribute to his friend Kenny Rogers.

Richie came out with a projection of Rogers behind him and began singing “Lady,” the life-altering song the two icons crafted together. Gone was the piano-heavy arrangement of the original recording for his memorial performance. In its place, Richie sang over a beautiful, acoustic guitar-centric version of the classic.

The 1980s song was a smash hit for both men, and it still ranks as one of the greatest Billboard singles of all time.

The two would remain close until Rogers passing last year. The country icon would leave us March 20, 2020 at the age of 81 from natural causes.

“Kenny Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family. The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency. They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date,” Rolling Stone reported at the time.

“‘I miss you, Kenny,” Richie said at the end of the song. “I miss you, man…”