A juicy dress-code memo is no match for a dead pop star in bathtub -- but interesting enough to gin up the Grammy Awards’ second biggest audience since 1993 – more than 28 million viewers.

That Grammy crowd is second only to last year’s 40 million who’d turned out to watch the music industry lay its heart at the feet of its fallen heroine Whitney Houston, who’d died dramatically the previous afternoon in a hotel bathtub, while the bands played their latest hits, host LL Cool J prayed, Adele made her post-surgery debut, and Nicki Minaj got exorcised.

View Photo Gallery: Dress code or not, celebrities arrive in style at the 55th annual awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

Last year had been the recording academy trophy show’s second largest audience on record, and its biggest haul in nearly three decades. It managed to edge out last year’s Billy Crystal-hosted Academy Awards in the ratings – the Oscars traditionally being the most watched trophy show of them all.  In fact, last year’s Grammycast attracted more viewers than five of the past six Oscarcasts.

 Still, Sunday’s Grammy ratings are something – as in, about 9 million more people than watched this year’s Golden Globe Awards hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The Grammy show also whomped the Fey/Poehler Globes among younger viewers who are the currency of most television ad sales. This is not to suggest that Poehler and Fey had been slouches, ratingswise – their Globes performance was up double digits compared to the previous year’s Globes, hosted by Ricky Gervais.

 In the walk-up to Sunday’s Grammy ceremony, CBS sent a wardrobe advisory to attendees which got leaked to the press, triggering an orgy of breaking-news reports about potential “bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks” and “bare sides or under curvature of the breasts” at Sunday’s Grammycast.

In the TV biz, this is called “throwing raw meat at piranha.”

Unfortunately, what the 28.4 million viewers who tuned in saw was maybe the most conservatively costumed Grammy crowd ever , though some press who’d already mapped out theire “here-are-the-dress-code-violators plans, fought gamely to keep the story alive with blown up photos of Katy Perry, Alicia Keys and Rihanna’s chests at Sunday’s show.

Really, the closest viewers got to anything of sartorial interest Sunday was the screen-saver gown Carrie Underwood wore during her performance of “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs.” Afterwards, backstage, she said she was mulling whether to take the dress home for watching movie purposes.

 And, early in the night, Jennifer Lopez attempted to recreate a recent magical moment, in which Angelina Jolie’s leg reached out from an opening in her gown and stole the show at the 2012  Oscar ceremony.

JLo — best known, Grammy-wise, for the buzz-worthy body-taped Versace gown she’d worn to the 2000 ceremony, came out on stage in an Anthony Vaccarello gown that featured a hole through which she put one leg, exposing it mightily. “I read the memo,” she announced happily. “You inspired the memo,” her co-presenter, Miami rapper Pitbull gushed.

But JLo’s leg was no match for Jolie’s gam.

Some trophies were handed out too on Sunday. Gotham pop-rock troupe Fun. bagged statuettes for song of the year and for best new artist, though lead singer Nate Ruess quipped on stage “you can see our faces and we are not young.” 

Mumford & Sons snagged the album-of-the-year win for “Babel.”

 And Prince whispered “I love this song” before announcing that Australian pop singer Gotye had won record of the year for his break-up anthem, “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

View Photo Gallery: The night’s performances, winners and standout moments.


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