Adam Lambert, Rihanna Help American Music Awards Score Big Ratings

Show has best year since 2002.

Thanks to talked-about performances from [artist id="3188063"]Adam Lambert[/artist], [artist id="3061469"]Lady Gaga[/artist] and [artist id="1940303"]Rihanna[/artist] and wins by the late [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist] and country superstar [artist id="2389485"]Taylor Swift[/artist], the American Music Awards drew its strongest audience in seven years.

According to Nielsen estimates, the awards show drew 14.2 million viewers, which is 2 million more than last year's program and represents the best showing by the AMAs since 2002.

Though NBC still won the night with "Sunday Night Football," ABC pulled ahead during the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours. The strong numbers for the show were boosted, no doubt, by the promise of more than 20 performances from some of music's biggest acts, including Jay-Z, Green Day, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Eminem with 50 Cent, Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston.

2009 AMA Performances

In the end, though, it was Lambert who made the biggest headlines, with his aggressively pansexual performance of the title track from his major-label debut, For Your Entertainment. In addition to drawing more than 1,500 complaints from viewers who took issue with the man-on-man kissing, girl dragging and S&M play, Lambert's awards-show coming-out party lost him at least one gig when ABC's "Good Morning America" announced Tuesday (November 24) that it had canceled his planned appearance due to the controversy kicked up by the AMAs.

Lambert took it all in stride, though, telling "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest on his radio show on Tuesday that he respects the "GMA" decision. "They gotta do what they gotta do," Lambert said. "It's too bad. I think there were a lot of fans who were excited to come see me. They probably had a lot of pressure coming at them from certain people who weren't happy about it. I respect their decision. I don't necessarily agree with it, but they need to do what they need to do."

Lambert, who lamented what he perceives as a double standard when it comes to risqué performances by men and women in music, said he felt no need to apologize for his AMA debut. "I don't feel I owe anyone an apology for anything," he said. "I performed, it was late-night TV, I did something that female performers have been doing for years, no different. It's just the fact that I'm me and it's a little different for people. It's really not that big of a deal. I'm not a babysitter, I'm a performer."