According to overnight Nielsen ratings, the 47th annual Grammy Awards telecast on Sunday scored the highest share ever among dead people. A resounding 53 percent of all television sets belonging to dead persons were turned on during the show.
What's more, the groundswell of support among the dead cut across racial and economic lines. From Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, to Port Arthur, Texas, Charles buried the competition alive. Millions of people phoned their landlords or 911 to complain about a blaring television set in the empty apartment or house next door.
"This is unreal," said Tom Gleason, Neilsen's chief ratings analyst. "Usually we see a 1 or 2 percent share from dead people's sets during the Grammys, and that's mostly because family members who had gone to loot valuables from a dead relative's house forgot to turn off the television when they left. Perhaps a lot of people who died last week were planning to watch the Grammys and had set their televisions to come on when the broadcast did."
Sensitive to criticism that Neilsen results are as easy to manipulate as a presidential election in Ohio, Gleason was quick to credit Ray Charles' much anticipated success at the Grammys with producing the monster ratings. Although Charles had died from crankiness last June at the age of 73, he was the sentimental favorite to turn in a drop-dead Grammy performance.
The late singer didn't disappoint, winning album of the year, best pop album of the year, best pop album of the year by a blind person, best pop album of the year by a dead blind person, record of the year, song of the year, recorded song of the year, and indecipherable song of the year.
Charles's final album, Genius Loves Company, allegedly recorded before he died, featured him singing duets with performers such as Van Morrison, whom most music fans believe is dead. While Charles was recording the album, he predicted it would "kick the living [daylights] out of the competition."
Not everyone was happy about the success of the Grammys among the dead demographic. "Dead folks are a bunch of stiffs when it comes to supporting a product," one sponsor complained. "The way they hang on to their money, you'd think you can take it with you."
Producer-turned-rapper Kanye West, who once nearly died in a car accident, was also unhappy. Nominated for ten Grammys, West managed to win only three. He told reporters afterward, "Maybe if I had died in that accident, I'd have done better."
In related news, jazz organist Jimmy Smith, who died last week at the age of 76 or 79, is already being touted as a "sleeper" for next year's Grammy awards.