Grammys Chief Defends Arcade Fire Win

But he also sends
signals of capitulation, the wimp. Imagine a world where your only musical
options were Eminem or Justin Bieber. So fuck ’em. Just skip the following text and go straight to Merge’s Arcade Fire video at the bottom.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Tallying the Arcade Fire-Grammy win (for “Album of the Year”)
controversy to date:

 

*First, the band wins
on Feb. 13
, duly ensuring that bands who don’t necessarily sell a million albums
still have a shot at the brass ring (and additionally proving to the mainstream
public that the indie milieu does indeed “qualify” as artistically relevant);

 

*Then, the Arcade
Fire haters come out in force, primarily from the hip-hop world and also from a
few oddball corners (such as those occupied by Rosie O’Donnell and, uh, Tawny
Kitaen).

 

*Next, former
Interscope label exec (now a marketing mogul) Steve Stoute takes the Grammys as
a whole to task
, suggesting that the losses of Eminem and Justin Bieber means
the awards ceremony is a sham, and in the process belittling the
accomplishments of Arcade Fire. (He subtly dissed “Best New Artist” winner
Esperanza Spalding as well.)

 

*Finally, Arcade
Fire’s manager, having had his fill, decides to weigh in and states flatly that
the band “deserved the win this year.”

 

 

Got all that? Good. Today the chairman of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, addressed Stoute’s
complaints about the Grammys by agreeing to have discussions with him on “how
each side could better understand each other,” according to an A.P. report. Portnow and Stoute issued a joint statement indicating they were ready to make
nice in the mutual interests of improving the Grammys.

 

Of course, Stoute’s stance, that the Grammys are broken and
will remain that way until nobodys like Arcade Fire and Spalding are summarily shoved
aside and gazillion sellers like Em and the Biebster take home all the awards,
seems subtly intractable. That’s a point Portnow tacitly made in his portion of
the statement in which he defended Arcade Fire’s win this year:

 

“Frankly, I’m not so sure 10 years
ago where an Arcade Fire could have received a
best album award. This is not about popularity or about sales or even about
notoriety, it’s about excellence in music,” he said. “That’s why a
Grammy means so much to an artist when they get one, because it’s a peer
recognition.”

 

That’s for sure – as anybody who has followed the Grammys over the years and
knows what a meaningless, empty honor a Grammy had become (and still was some 10
ago). And how, despite fits and starts, the Grammys had in the past few years
been steadily improving as actual music lovers – who have a clue about contemporary music and understand it’s not all
about major label muscle – came into the Academy fold and voted on the basis of
conscience rather than dollar signs.

 

Portnow’s statement, above, is as things should be. Here’s hoping that the
Grammy chief doesn’t cave and Stoute the keys to the Grammys SUV; we’d hate to
see him and his posse barreling down the musical highway towards us.

 

Meanwhile, here’s the only thing you need to know about all this:

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