Aside from all the regular buzz of the Grammys (namely Lady Gaga being weird and everyone hating Justin Bieber), something pretty unique happened this year at the award ceremony. If you haven't heard yet, my #2 pick of 2010, Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, took home the Best Album of the Year award last night at the Grammy's. And while the press wrote the pick off as an upset of the mainstream music world, the win is actually a poignant example of the direction of the music industry. The Grammy's have for so long been a celebration of the pop spectacle and fashion where the quality of the music is a mere side note. The award ceremony seems to stand in stark contrast to the Academy Awards ceremony, where quality, relevance, and artistry are sought after.
Musicians and bands have been known for not attending the award ceremony or criticizing it on the basis of it being a blatant "promotion for the music industry". It was as if everyone knew what the Grammy's were really all about and that was perfectly okay. And while this all may be completely true, this year at the Grammy's something unexpected happened and just about everyone was happy about it. Kanye West cheered safely from his tweet feed, proclaiming Arcade Fire's victory as being a win for "us", or the "true artist". Yet Kanye may be on to something, as picking The Arcade Fire, a band that gets almost no radio plays and exists on an independent label, over the likes of Eminem and Katy Perry, is saying something about the direction in which the award show wants to head.
But even more so, Arcade Fire's victory is a culmination of indie rock's invasion of the mainstream. The genre has been so perfectly assimilated that Arcade Fire doesn't even need to make the jump to a major label to hit #1 on Billboard America, play sold out shows at the Madison Square Garden, or win a Grammy for Best Album of the Year. Even if the Grammy was just a lip service toward actually caring about music, its a brave step in a new direction. Thanks to the internet and the music industry's digitalization, people care more about music and the quality of music today than they ever have before and its about time our award shows start recognizing that. Congratulations Arcade Fire!
Barbara Streisand can hardly believe it: