Published Februrary 17, 2011 on WVAU.org, American University’s student-run online radio station, with title of “assistant web director.” Original post here.
Much to the mainstream population’s surprise and my joy, Arcade Fire won the Grammy for Album of the Year for their third album The Suburbs, released this past summer. In lieu of watching the ceremony, I opted for actually being productive, but once I heard news that my favorite band won a top honor, I was absolutely ecstatic, bordering on feeling like a proud mom. The win has been dubbed an upset in the media, and in a category with big names like Lady Gaga, Eminem, Lady Antebellum and Katy Perry, Arcade Fire was the obvious underdog.
The internet quickly exploded with anti-Arcade tweets, status updates, tumbles and the like, all conveying the same sentiment: “How can a group I’ve NEVER heard of win Album of the Year? Who is #ArcadeFire” (as tweeted by @didleigh). A recent blog best compiles the finest of post-Grammy outrage. Rosie O’Donnell’s “album of the year ? ummm never heard of them ever” tweet has become one of the more popular posts. The Atlantic Monthly pointed out that our president, fortunately, is not among Americans unaware of the Montreal-based band.
Probably more surprised about the win was the band themselves, who, once getting over the initial “What the hell?” reaction, graciously accepted the award in English and their native French and decided to perform again, simply put, “‘cause we like music.”
As a dedicated fan, all the Arcade Fire-ignorance is disheartening because the band is far from an underground indie band. Going strong since their critically-acclaimed debut Funeral in 2004, Arcade Fire has grown to be the unofficial kings of alternative. They’ve led numerous tours, headlined endless festivals worldwide, from Lollapalooza to Glastonbury, and recently sold out two nights at New York City’s massive and legendary venue Madison Square Garden this summer (one night of which was broadcast live on YouTube through Vevo, and the other I was lucky enough to be in attendance for — an anecdote I will never miss an opportunity to brag about).
Arcade Fire isn’t a stranger to WVAU.org — the winning album was one of the top-played albums on our rack fall semester and I often hear their tunes emanating from the hallway outside the station. Whether you’re a fan or not, if you’re reading this post, you’re likely on the side of the creator of the “Who is Arcade Fire” blog rather than the people posted on it.
What I’m sure we can all agree on is that Arcade Fire’s massively media-covered, underdog win will hopefully get the message out to Grammy-viewers like Twitter-user @paulguynj (who tweeted, “How can this group get album of the year when they didn’t even have as many top 10 as Gaga. Did this group even have a number 1?”) that the best music is not necessarily the most popular (although it can be!) and that there are other outlets in discovering music than Top 40 radio stations (like WVAU.org!).