I should be able to leave the ridiculousness of the Grammys alone. I can’t. It’s like when I was a kid and I focused my ADD on peeling the label off of the shampoo bottle without leaving any sticker residue or it was considered a failure(note: if you are reading this and are too young to have seen shampoo bottles with paper labels, yes, I know that I’m “totally old”…).
So, good news is that there’s only one question. Bad news…
1) People were shocked at some decisions Grammy voters made last year because________________________ .
a. people have to be “shocked” instead of “racist” now
b. the Arcade Fire are god-damned Canadians, that’s why
c. we didn’t like Muse the first and gayer time, when they were The Darkness
d. Neil Young is a god-damned Canadian, that’s why
answer=b. Really each answer is correct; people were up in arms after the awards ceremony. The beautiful Esperanza Spalding made the talk show circuit after deservedly winning the Best New Artist award; not only did she have the gall to be better than Justin Bieber, but she also had the gall to be a young black woman with a dangerous amount of talent focused through the perils of JAZZ MUSIC. I really thought Diane Sawyer was going to ask her, “with all of this talent, why aren’t you doing safe pop music? And why aren’t you a sexy white male? I mean, you’re scatting up there for Christ’s sake!”
But the biggest shock was Arcade Fire winning Album Of The Year for The Suburbs(AOTY is awarded for best production and performance of a full album). Nominated against Eimenim, Ladies Gaga and Antebellum, and Katy Perry, nobody thought they had a chance. It was the last award of the night. I watched it live; I had talked so much shit about the Grammys already, so I wanted to see it bloom to fruition. Here’s what happened:
– Of all people, Kris Kristopherson and Barbara Streisand come out to announce the award. Streisand says it the award that “you’ve all been waiting for”. I can only assume that the crowd is in agreement.
-The nominees are mentioned, with Arcade Fire getting the least applause.
-The screen cuts to a five-way split, with the members of Arcade Fire where? Waiting backstage to play another song. Most rednecks that were hollerin’ for Lady Antebellum point to this coincidence as proof of conspiracy.
– Streisand is actually surprised enough to stutter: “and the Grammy goes to… The Sss-ss-Suburbs!” In the split-screen you can see Dr. Dre give an Acadamy-award worthy can-you-believe-this-shit face as the camera focuses on Arcade Fire, all filled with devoid-of-irony shock and laughter.
– Win Butler, leading the band from the stage wings, kneels to Kirstopherson. I seriously doubt he knelt to Streisand, unless he was a fan of A Star Is Born.
– The first thing Win Butler does is thanks Montreal. Then his wife says something in French.
– After sufficiently saying “fuck you” to America, Win slyly says fuck you to the music industry: “We’re going to play another song, because we love music.” A high-pitched tone comes somewhere from the band’s gear, as if the spirit of a live Black Sabbath bootleg suddenly fills the auditorium.
– A slightly less subtle “fuck you”: Butler says, “Everyone leave to this song, thank you”, as the band plays “Ready To Start”. It takes a full four minutes for the look of natural high and joy to get off of Win Butler’s face. The song continues over the credits.
The microblogging/vlogging/tweeting universe went supernova with, to me, a surprising theme: Who The Fuck Is Arcade Fire? I understand the surprise about Spalding. If you were to ask Paul Mooney to write a sketch about white people afraid of a skinny black girl with a nappy Afro who is strong and talented enough to play bass exceptionally and lead a jazz trio, he would have written pretty much what happened. But this was Arcade Fire’s third album, and all the vitriol I conjured up regarding Win Butler’s attitude is only what people must have perceived; he came off thankful and charming, like most Canadians do, to me.
For what it’s worth, and for what it says about “culture”, the Grammys were a cultural event last year, for the first time in a long time. I’ll watch again, for a couple of reasons…
The Bon Iver Moments: Justin Vernon thinks the Grammys are ridiculous and filled of self-important people, and said so in a NY Times interview. He was then promptly nominated for four Grammys. One of them is for Best New Artists, which is kinda strange: I know the rule is that a “literally not new” artist can get the nomination for the album that propels them to prominence. But what listeners weren’t already convinced by For Emma, Forever Ago? Anyhoo, Vernon will be there, if not just to support his BFF,
Kanye West, who is up against Vernon for Song of the Year, and Kanye West is up against baby-daddy Jay-Z and Kanye West for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Album. Will Kanye rush the stage and blow a gasket if Kanye wins? If Vernon wins, whose weed gets smoked at the after party? Find out live!
The High Drama of the Best Americana Album, Best Bluegrass Album, and Best Folk Album that will never see the light of television, for sure. But this is where the real drama is. The Del McCory Band, Union Station, Steve Martin, and Ralph Stanley all deserve the Best Bluegrass Album; Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams will have a ten-minute girl fight until Levon Helm wins the Best Americana Album(and smokes his own weed at the after party); and The Civil Wars, a band so derivative of the style of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings that it is painful to watch, have to fight for the Best Folk Album against Fleet Foxes, Eddie Effing Veder, Steve Fucking Earle, and Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. So, so sweet. I can’t wait to read the results online while Katy Perry pees on a crucifix onstage while trying not to rely on Pro Tools.