When I woke up this morning, one of the last things I expected to discover was that Arcade Fire’s album The Suburbs had been awarded a Grammy for Best Album beating off fierce major label competition in the form of rap superstar Eminem, flaunting fashionista Lady Gaga and girl-kissing pop star Katy Perry. It is fair to say that this was an unexpected turn of events and has prompted a myriad of responses. This, of course, includes the setting up of the rather excellent Who Is Arcade Fire? Tumblr page to chart the reactions of the ignorant, chart-buying musical layman to the result.
While you can sympathise with (but definitely not forgive) the public’s lack of knowledge of the band and the subsequent reaction of a subset of that population, I was even more shocked (read: pleasantly surprised) to see the response to this news from many of the bands from the alternative music scene itself. Across the range of bands and musicians that Mind Equals Blown follows on Twitter, there was a rare display of solidarity for our combined perception of what good music is.
First off, the reactions from a number of bands and artists:
Yeasayer (@oddblood) – Congratulations to Arcade Fire for proving the power of independent music. Dinosaurs beware.
Jimmy Eat World (@jimmyeatworld) – congrats to @arcadefire! much deserved recognition for a great album. #fb
Circa Survive (@circasurvive) – CONGRATS TO THE ARCADE FIRE>album of the year. monumental. so well deserved. sign of the apocalypse not being real?
Tom Morello (@tmorello) – Arcade Fire winning album of the year is some atonement for past Grammy sins (jethro tull over metallica, steely dan over eminem etc)
Damian from Fucked Up (@leftfordamian) – Shout out to the good folks @arcadefire for adding a bit of credibility to the Grammy’s.
Brendon from Panic! At The Disco (@brendonuriesays) – thanks, Arcade Fire. i slept like a baby after hearing the news of your win. your epic, epic win.
Hayley from Paramore (@yelyahwilliams) – So proud and happy for Arcade Fire!! Wow wow wow
The Swellers (@theswellers) – Stoked @arcadefire got album of the year. Love “The Suburbs”.
This is just a selection of the praise the band received throughout the night from other bands. While The Suburbs was chosen for inclusion in the Best Album category by its own merit (hitting number 1 in the US and in the UK), the win seems legitimised by the fact that the album is seen as being worthy of the award by their peers. To me, this displays a music scene not in competition with itself for ticket sales or places in the charts, but one that actively encourages the bands around them, and makes a point of celebrating their success. It’s important to remember that the Arcade Fire result was not the only upset of the night when you consider that jazz singer Esperanza Spalding was awarded Best New Artist. I fully expect to see a Who Is Esperanza Spalding? Tumblr page set up in the near future fuelled by the vitriol of the enraged fans of the Beeb.
After the shoddy selection of nominees for categories that made the 2010 Grammys frankly unwatchable, is 2011 going to be the turning point? Can we now expect to live in a world where people believe that Arcade Fire are better than Eminem, Esperanza Spalding is better than Justin Bieber and Neil Young is better than Kings of Leon? Until next time, we can chalk this up as a victory for the alternative over the manufactured and more generally, for good over evil.