A little dose of American Idol may have given the Grammys a little dose of American Idol power.
For the first time in three years, the Grammys telecast drew more than 20 million viewers, per preliminary ratings released Monday by CBS.
The show, led off by the reunited Police, featured a new Idol-esque promotion called My Grammy Moment, in which viewers were asked to vote an unknown singer into the spotlight with Justin Timberlake.
According to CBS, the show, which also featured a Best New Artist win by former Idol champ Carrie Underwood, averaged 20.1 million awards-show fans from 8 p.m.-11:30 p.m. That's the most since 2004, when 26.3 million tuned in to see if a post-Super Bowl Janet Jackson would show (she didn't), and if a post-Super Bowl Timberlake would apologize (he did).
Despite the ratings spike—and viewership was up nearly 20 percent—the Grammys still aren't in Idol's Nielsen league.
After three telecasts each this season, Tuesday's Idol is averaging 35.6 million viewers, while Wednesday's Idol is averaging 35 million.
The last time the Grammys topped 35 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research stats, Sade was Best New Artist, Phil Collins' No Jacket Required was Album of the Year, and "We Are the World" was all. Translation: The year was 1985.
As a show, Sunday's no-host Grammys acquitted itself nicely with critics.
"This year's Grammys was surprising for one reason," BET.com's Tonya Pendleton wrote, "it was actually entertaining."
The piano-playing, guitar-strumming, camcorder-running Timberlake drew good notices from Variety's David Sprague.
"If the singer...hadn't exorcised the ghost of his boy band past before, he did so with a multifaceted showing here," Sprague wrote.
In the New York Times, Jon Pareles found the show heavy on oldies, which did he didn't necessarily find a bad thing, just not necessarily a brave thing.
"At a time when recorded music needs all the commercial help and television exposure it can get," Pareles wrote, "the Grammy Awards broadcast retreated too often into memories."
As for the night's big gimmick, My Grammy Moment, it scored credible enough reviews.
Variety said the Timberlake pairing with winner Robyn Troup "wasn't nearly as amateur-night in presentation as it had appeared to be on paper." Even the New York Times found the 19-year-old Troup "poised and skillful."
As it turned out, Troup has more of an Idol connection than merely being the winner of the Grammys' Idol-esque contest.
Backstage, Troup became evasive when asked an innocent question about whether she'd ever auditioned for Idol. After prodding, she said that she'd tried out this season, but said she couldn't say whether she'd been approved from the competition's Hollywood round.
Fox, in its usual tight-lipped Idol way, had no comment Monday on Troup.
Idol's Hollywood auditions are scheduled to be featured in the episode set to air Tuesday.
Unless there's a drastic reversal of Nielsen fortune, Tuesday's Idol will once again draw a (much) bigger crowd that the Grammys.
My Grammy Moment, or no.
Check out E! Online's ultimate Grammy recap for photo galleries, Backstage Blog, Best & Worst and complete scorecard.