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Author Topic: Arcade Fire Wins Grammy, prompting Americans to wonder who they are anyway  (Read 33436 times)

scarred

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I need to confess something...
I've never EVER heard an Arcade Fire song (that i know of anyway). Am I a bad person now? Who are these guys anyway?

...Wait, are people going to say that they sold out because they finally received some recognition like with every other band in the genre? Fuck that shit.
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NotAFanOfFenders

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Wait a minute, that site is awesome!





Is it even real?
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Is it even real?

yeah it's all real tweets and fbook shit.
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Arcade Fire surprises me like every two weeks with how much I truly love them. Watching Win smile when they ran back onstage to play Ready to Start was just the best. Especially since I don't think they were supposed to do that.

I don't know, I just have a really deep emotional bond and affinity with this band because they were basically my first indie rock band back in 2004 when I was twelve and uh, I've never looked back, really. And seeing them live twice was just... aaaaaaaaaaaa.

Anyway, I love that tumblr. It's interesting that for how """""mainstream"""" AF is now, they're still just some band that nobody's heard of
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Man, last year during the NFL Super Bowl there was an advert for the NFL that had "Wake Up" as the track. It was so weird. No one plays the Arcade Fire here, it's never on the radio, no one in the US knows who they are. I am glad they finally won a thing, though, I guess.
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They didn't really have much opposition.
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Arcade Fire; the most mainstream band you've never heard of.
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valley_parade

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I didn't know who they were before it was cool to not know who they were.

Actually...well I did know who they were...they just don't do anything for me. Mehhh.

BUT. The dude has a MusicMan amp! And I use one of those (sometimes). That's kinda cool.
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Wait so you're letting something that happened 10 years ago ruin your quality of life? What are you, America? :psyduck:

JimmyJazz

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Do does an ignorance of the existence of Arcade Fire  and a love for Justin Bieber go hand-in-hand with not being able to construct a sentence that makes grammatical sense?
« Last Edit: 14 Feb 2011, 13:36 by JimmyJazz »
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Arcade Fire; the most mainstream band you've never heard of.

I still feel like everything great they did was part of Funeral (a track here and there has been good, but I feel like Funeral was something of an opus), but it's good they got some recognition and a good tumblr out of it (which I will now follow).
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Katherine

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Quote
Alicia Someone: Who they he'll are this people singing right now ahhhhhhhhhhhhh they are scary !!!!!!!
17 hours ago via iPhone LikeUnlike View Feedback (7)Hide Feedback (7)
          o
            John Someone: Run Forrest Run...
          o
            John Someone: Alicia...your scary group just won!
          o
            Alicia Someone: I know who the hell are these people?????
          o
            John Someone: Millionaires now! LOL
          o
            Katherine Me:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcade_fire
          o
            Alicia Someone: Thanks Catherine I had not a clue who the he'll they were lol and I don't really listen to much of any music so I really was clueless with them :) lol
          o
            Barbara Someone I said the same thing to myself.....OUCH!

This kinda pissed me off last night.  "Scary people"?  Really? "Millionaires now haw haw haw" Ugh.  And I love how she spelled my name wrong in replying to me...
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ALoveSupreme

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Quote
           Alicia Someone: Thanks Catherine I had not a clue who the he'll they were lol and I don't really listen to much of any music so I really was clueless with them :) lol
          
I think that sums up everyone's problem with this award.  I'm not saying that it's a bad thing, but people who "don't listen to much music" shouldn't be surprised when they don't know more-than-just marginally culturally significant musicians.
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Tom

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If we wanted to go into a silly discussion of originality => greatness, then Arcade Fire is way ahead of this tiny curve. Bieber (Lief Garrett and other boy-teen idols) and Gaga (Madonna 2.0) aren't really attempting to do anything groundbreaking or new. Thus, Arcade Fire probably deserves this inconsequential more than either of those acts.
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All of their albums have been on "best of (year)" lists for Rolling Stone, MTV, Spin, Time, etc.  These are pretty big things in the US music industry, right?  It's not just Pitchfork talking about them.
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Scandanavian War Machine

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no i'm pretty sure they're pretty huge

i think this is one of those silent majority things where the smaller group starts yelling and the larger group of people just sit there patiently waiting for their turn to speak, only it never comes


then again, i've never actually listened to arcade fire so maybe not! maybe they really aren't as big as we thought they were.
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when I saw this magazine cover I figured that meant they were pretty much the biggest band in the world, but I guess maybe I was wrong?
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CoyoteKnight

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Well good for Arcade Fire. It's about time something new and unique that isn't just shock value won.
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imagist42

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That tumblr is possibly the greatest one I have ever seen. Then again I haven't seen very many.

The funniest thing to me is how half of the people confuse the album with the artist.

EDIT: Case in point:

« Last Edit: 14 Feb 2011, 15:35 by imagist42 »
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Man, last year during the NFL Super Bowl there was an advert for the NFL that had "Wake Up" as the track. It was so weird. No one plays the Arcade Fire here, it's never on the radio, no one in the US knows who they are. I am glad they finally won a thing, though, I guess.

I've noticed over the last year or so that "Indie" music is starting to make inroads into the mainstream in some pretty surprising places. Last Saturday there was a game of Rugby League here in Australia and in the build-up the TV channel broadcasting it, Channel 9 (which is probably the most mainstream TV channel imaginable in Australia) used a song off High Violet by the National as background music! (I think it was "Terrible Love".)
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valley_parade

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The strangest thing I've ever seen in that regard was the time Fox played Vaux's "Are You With Me?" during some NFL highlights.

Like seriously. Who the hell listened to Vaux? Judging by that one time at Warped Tour, I'm the only one.
« Last Edit: 14 Feb 2011, 15:59 by valley_parade »
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Wait so you're letting something that happened 10 years ago ruin your quality of life? What are you, America? :psyduck:

De_El

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At this point I kind of assumed that everyone knew Arcade Fire BUT! one of the things about people who don't listen to music is they're never inspired to talk to anyone about music and thus it is easier to forget they exist.

scarred

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Yeah, it's kind of weird to remember "Oh, yeah! There ARE people that just listen to whatever comes on the radio!" From a music nerd's standpoint, it's like trying to communicate with cavemen.
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Melodic

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arcade fire are cool
this haiku is about how
i like their music
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kwami42

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haikus are not six
seven five but five seven
five you silly man
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imagist42

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Haikus can assume
whatever structure you wish.
Provided it's short.

It's not like English
is ideal for poetry
anyway, bitches.

Also, "fire" is debatably monosyllabic.
« Last Edit: 14 Feb 2011, 21:32 by imagist42 »
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Johnny C

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i mean it's not mentioned in this thread that i could see in a brief skim but i think it's really important to note that the arcade fire are like merge records vanguards at this point, like they've released three records to ever-increasing sales on one of america's few remaining Big Indies, and now a seriously big chunk of america know who they are. that's like the hugest thing to carry out of this, i think  merge are like a Really Good Label and this is a huge thing no matter what the state of the industry is.
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JD

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i mean it's not mentioned in this thread that i could see in a brief skim but i think it's really important to note that the arcade fire are like merge records vanguards at this point, like they've released three records to ever-increasing sales on one of america's few remaining Big Indies, and now a seriously big chunk of america know who they are. that's like the hugest thing to carry out of this, i think merge are like a Really Good Label and this is a huge thing no matter what the state of the industry is.
I still refuse to take the Grammys seriously. Mostly because The Black Eyed Peas have won multiple awards and partially because Janelle Monae totally got cheated.
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Melodic

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haikus are not six
seven five but five seven
five you silly man

1    2    3    4    5
ar-cade fire are cool
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I thought the whole point of liking pop music was that you listened to the radio and chart shows and kind of kept up with it, like the news? Arcade Fire have had a bunch of #1 albums from what I can see on Wikipedia.
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In Japanese tongue,
Nouns don't have a plural form.
Haikus' S is wrong.
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Lummer

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That tumblr just pisses me off. Some people should have no right to say anything about music.
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In Japanese tongue,
Nouns don't have a plural form.
Haikus' S is wrong.

In Japanese tongue,
Nouns don't have a plural form.

In Japanese

I am like inches away from ranting about quinoa.
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ALoveSupreme

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I've noticed over the last year or so that "Indie" music is starting to make inroads into the mainstream in some pretty surprising places. Last Saturday there was a game of Rugby League here in Australia and in the build-up the TV channel broadcasting it, Channel 9 (which is probably the most mainstream TV channel imaginable in Australia) used a song off High Violet by the National as background music! (I think it was "Terrible Love".)

I heard You!Me!Dancing! on a Miller Lite commercial, like, two months ago... I was like, "dude! that song is 6 years old," how do people get jobs picking background music cause I would be a million times better, apparently...

That tumblr just pisses me off. Some people should have no right to say anything about music.
I also felt inexplicably angry at a couple of things I saw written.
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haikus are not six
seven five but five seven
five you silly man

1    2    3    4    5
ar-cade fire are cool

d'aw, it's ok buddy it's trying that matters most!

It's great that Arcade Fire won the grammy considering their intensely mediocre album was easily the best of those nominated. More importantly for me, it's confirmed in my mind how far mainstream pop music has sunk and how tragic the whole industry really is. I mean, I knew that already but seeing the backlash against AF's win really highlights how conditioned most people have become into only liking what some monolithic taste making machine churns out ready made for their ignorant, slavish devotion.
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Johnny C

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i mean you can view this as "the industry sunk to meet us" the way chris weingarten cynically did OR you can view this as a band that basically made their way in north america the hard way (i.e. touring a fuckload and working with labels that, maybe with the exception of mercury who was their UK distributor on their last record, treat them largely as human beings) earning the same level of visibility within mainstream culture that someone like lady gaga, katy perry, or justin bieber has, without receiving virtually any airplay on pop radio. they did it by touring and by selling the absolute hell out of their records. so the actual "album of the year" part, not so relevant in terms of whether or not that album was actually the best of the year, but as a watermark of collective consciousness, a pretty staunchly independent band winning it is pretty fucking significant, dudes.
« Last Edit: 15 Feb 2011, 08:10 by Johnny C »
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Fire is definitely two syllables, y'all crazy
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imagist42

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In Japanese tongue,
Nouns don't have a plural form.
Haikus' S is wrong.

In Japanese tongue,
Nouns don't have a plural form.

In Japanese

Yeah pretty much the entire point of my post is that poetic forms of foreign languages never ever translate ideally into English and are often better ignored for masterful approximations so, whatever, or something.
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The difference is, Arcade Fire is only "on" a major label outside the US in the sense that a major label distributes their music. The band, however, completely owns their music and thus has total creative control and total say-so over how and when their music is recorded, produced, licensed, packaged and so on. To me, that makes them independent by definition no matter where you're buying their music.
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KvP

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i mean you can view this as "the industry sunk to meet us" the way chris weingarten cynically did OR you can view this as a band that basically made their way in north america the hard way (i.e. touring a fuckload and working with labels that, maybe with the exception of mercury who was their UK distributor on their last record, treat them largely as human beings) earning the same level of visibility within mainstream culture that someone like lady gaga, katy perry, or justin bieber has, without receiving virtually any airplay on pop radio. they did it by touring and by selling the absolute hell out of their records. so the actual "album of the year" part, not so relevant in terms of whether or not that album was actually the best of the year, but as a watermark of collective consciousness, a pretty staunchly independent band winning it is pretty fucking significant, dudes.
This thing (band tours lots, becomes famous without pop radio play) is a thing that has never happened before? Can you say with a straight face that if Billboard #1s were selling millions instead of low hundred thousands Arcade Fire would have made it anywhere near this award?

Also I think the main culprit here is the band's prostration before the altar of Springsteen. That's a hood pass through Baby Boomer town if there ever was one.
« Last Edit: 15 Feb 2011, 10:57 by KvP »
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In Australia they're distributed/advertised by one of our largest indie labels, Spunk. Only a handful of uni students and adults know who they are.
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So does their distribution in one country disqualify them universally from being considered independent? Here in the US they're NEVER on the radio apart from college stations and their music is very rarely heard in commercials, movie trailers, tv shows, and the like. You say "every album" like they're some hugely prolific band. Every album since Neon Bible is one other album. I dunno, they may be pretty popular but comparing Arcade Fire to U2 is totally absurd and not even remotely close to reality. I'm not defending them per se, I think they've released one great album and the rest have been fairly mediocre but their independent status is obvious to me which makes their Grammy win pretty significant. I don't know for sure but I would guess this is the first time a band not on a major label in America won this American award and considering the established Names they beat it's a pretty big shock to the system
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This thing (band tours lots, becomes famous without pop radio play) is a thing that has never happened before? Can you say with a straight face that if Billboard #1s were selling millions instead of low hundred thousands Arcade Fire would have made it anywhere near this award?

1) no the thing that has happened before is happening again in the 21st century when ringtones are a legitimate honest-to-god sales and success metric, i'm not dim enough to suggest that a band who tours a lot and subsequently becomes famous has never happened before, give me some credit
2) who knows dude, this is the reality we're given & i am trying to speak mainly to it

---words below---

tommy, dude, i dislike the idea of bands having to have managers as much as anyone else but to say that doesn't make them independent is a crock of shit. i talk to independent bands through press people every other week  bands that also hire people to book shows for them. that doesn't mean they're not independent, and that doesn't mean they lack an independent ethos. it means they have other stuff to do with their lives than be on the phone. it's really tough to hold that against them.

it's maybe not stridently ian mackaye ideologue independence but booking a tour and doing press and all that stuff is seriously ass-busting work, especially in north america where you have a ton of bands and a ton of ground to cover, and i know cause i'm friends with nationally touring bands and i've tried to do press for myself and it's a giant clusterfuck nightmare. when you're on the road for several months out of the year to be on the phone and in email contact with people across the country all hours of the day as well it may be doable but like so is grinding your own flour and sun-drying your own tomatoes yet i'm not some kind of hybrid heston-contessa dude so i'm not going to suggest that anyone who doesn't do that isn't a good cook. they want to buy some at the farmer's market or italian grocery or whatever? cool. similarly, if a band works with a press person or a booking agent  that's fine. plenty of bands have done that. i'm not sure where that stops  should bands not design their own websites? should they design and print all their posters? should they screen all their own shirts? press & package their music (note: these estates do this)? what separates those from having a booking agent, especially in 2011 when a website can honest-to-god be as important if not more important than having someone manage press?

the stuff with mercury? that's one record so far, and the record prior to it has sold 400,000 copies to date, all on merge, and during that record's promotion they toured with U2 and bruce springsteen in arenas across north america. and people went to see them, too. funeral's sold over half a million copies and was nominated for a best alternative grammy, which was prior to touring with U2 and to signing with mercury. (those sales, by the way, don't count tour sales, which aren't calculated or tracked by billboard.) and their ads were all over magazines and shit in canada and the states, don't kid yourself  they weren't on pop radio but still. they sold out madison square garden two nights in a row.

unless you're going to posit some really bizarre trickle-across profit thing that reveals how money from record sales in canada, the u.s., and other countries across the globe slowly funnel from merge to mercury,* this strikes me if anything as a validation of what weingarten says  "here is a band that is going to move the fuck out of some units," mercury says. "and 'sinking down to their level' and signing them will actually provide us with some revenue." here in north america, where they've sold the majority of their records, they're making bank, they moved tons of units, and they're doing it through merge. my mom likes the arcade fire too, and you know who told her? canadian public broadcast radio, who've been playing their records since the first ep.

like step 4 and 5 are severely disingenuous. step 3, like i said, isn't wrong. they did step 2 twice, the second time facilitating it by having built a reputation as a sterling live act and having had a first record that they put all their guts into take off. don't front as if this was impossible to accomplish without mercury unless you can like provide some actual proof about it. far as i can see, mercury saw a hot rod peeling out down the street and decided to skitch on it at the last second. if that rules them out as a band that's worked independently, fine. i guess if you're willing to ignore like six years of history then there's no real arguing with you.

i'm sorry! i'm on like three hours of sleep, so i'm kind of edgy. but the last thing i want to tell my friends in rah rah, who've been packing into a van a couple of times a year for the last three years to haul ass back and forth across the country playing first to crowds of 20 people and then nowadays crowds of several hundred, all while doing so on their own dime and on a locally-run record label, that they've betrayed the independent ethos by hiring a booking agent to book tours while they're working jobs and getting degrees, or that once they sign to a uk label for distro that negates everything they've worked at independently of said label. that sets me right off. and now i've written a bunch of words defending the arcade fire. for your next trick, back me into defending the beatles, maybe? paul's lawyers?

*the sole argument for this that i can determine is that them being popular over here will make them popular in the uk but they sold a ton of records in the uk before signing to merge anyways so i think crediting this exclusively to mercury's advertising campaign or suggesting that mercury single-handedly turned them into a band that has topped critics' best-of lists and debuted on the billboard charts for half a decade without their help is like some serious history-distorting stuff
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ALoveSupreme

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I don't want to cross-post this debate from Electrical but here in the UK we have a different view of them because they've been a major label band for many years now. They've had that sickly major label marketing since they left Rough Trade and thus, it doesn't feel like as much of a surprise.

Not everyone over there, apparently
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Johnny C

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tommy, i'm not saying that you said the band was bad  i deliberately didn't say that, in fact, because you're right and that doesn't have anything to do with it. but i disagree with you that having someone do press for you doesn't make you indie. that's not a hard line  it's an arbitrary one. when i spoke with oliver from a place to bury strangers two years ago to do an article on his band for my pissant college newspaper, i did it through a press guy. they were on killer pimp records at the time. that label barely has a website. meanwhile oliver's band was embarking on a huge tour across north america, he had to run death by audio back in new york, and he was still building boutique guitar pedals. that doesn't embody the independent ethos somehow? like i said above  where do we draw the line? is building your own website okay or not? do you have to run things out of a gmail account?

give me something here because i'm having a hard time figuring out why the only model for independence should be fugazi  who had, by the way, almost a decade's worth of positive press to their lead dude's former act  or black flag  whose revolving-door band members quite frequently hated actually being in that band  or shellac  whose frontman is like a world-renowned record producer who had a fairly acclaimed couple of bands prior to his current act, and who tour for vacation.

you want to argue the mercury records bit, that's totally fair, and you've got some valid points, though i'd argue that deliberately ignoring everything the arcade fire did as a band touring the entire world without a cent of major label money and selling a million fucking records in the process is somewhat intellectually dishonest. what i'm saying, i guess, is that the absolute hard line beyond signing to a major is wrong, and if you want to be giving a kid starting a band advice in list form like you did up there, it's a foul bit of rhetoric to append "by the way don't ever hire a booking agent or press guy." that kid went to go see the fucking weakerthans, who help run an anarchist printing press, and decided he wanted to pick up a guitar and start playing independent music. don't front on him just because you think the weakerthans aren't independent.

we can play this game all day, by the way; i'm pretty sure you know as many bands on mint and arts & crafts and what have you as i do. and those bands are as independent as any. i'm not interested in an ever-narrowing list of arbitrary criteria that make increasing demands of the few hours the members of those bands afforded in a day. i'm interested in if they have an ethos that says "i'll do things the way my art demands i do them."
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Johnny C

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i think there is something of a rhetorical slight against them, though! especially saying that having a manager isn't independent, which like i'm pretty sure i made a compelling case about above! you're making out people who actually work to help bands like this out to be like GWAR's sleazy p. martini or something. a lot of bands choose managers, i'd argue, to help them remain independent  so that they can work with someone and get things done on their own terms without it consuming every waking hour of the day.

there's a weird undercurrent to the argument against management and press and ancillary dudes that those are somehow people who are going to cover the way a band does business in like grime or something, like they're rendered unclean by association. i'm not really feeling that for the reasons i've described above. the strike thing is totally arbitrary, which like i've said is the whole problem with the argument. fugazi did it. fugazi had a lot of other factors at play. fugazi got lucky, in a lot of ways. i'm not denying that it's impossible, i'm denying that to say "canada's a big fucking country and touring it for two months and then touring it again in three months for another two month stretch is going to be extraordinarily difficult to coordinate, i could use some help," it doesn't make you less independent. it makes you an adult aware of how much work you can feasibly handle. it's that shit, mostly, not the mercury records argument, that has my back up.
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Johnny C

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like, again  the weakerthans? g7 welcoming committee? anarchist press? julie doiron, jagjaguwar, sappyfest? when god told jonah "find me one person who hasn't committed a sin here and i won't blow up the town" he was being way too harsh, i think in the 21st century we can admit that.
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Scandanavian War Machine

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this is one of those rare occasions where i actually agree with johnny.


...but i'm pretty open-minded so if tommy makes a decently compelling argument, my mind could be changed.
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Also I would like to point out that the combination of Sailor Moon and faux-Kerouac / Sonic Youth spelling is perhaps the purest distillation of what this forum is that we have yet been presented with.
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