[Hype Hype Hooray] How Arcade Fire Beat the System to Steal the Industry’s Crown Jewel

Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.

Music lovers took to the streets of Twitter on Sunday night to celebrate the biggest indie music victory maybe ever. Yes, it was true, Arcade Fire had won the Grammy for Album of the Year. And so it was that independent music lovers everywhere slew the terrible beast that is mainstream music. But in the best album category, the Grammys have been notorious for rewarding top-sellers in lieu of albums with any kind of artistic merit, so what gives?

The short answer to why Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs beat out Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Eminem and Lady Antebellum is simply that it’s the best album of the bunch. For the long answer, let’s look at the voting system of the Grammys.

I’ve always wanted to think that the winners of the Grammys are picked by old, balding white guys in a dark boardroom at the top of a skyscraper. The air thick with cigar smoke, wart-covered executives laugh at indie artists and throw their votes to the biggest money-makers in pop music.

But the voting system is actually comprised of thousands of people in the industry including said label executives, asshole producers and previous Grammy winners (Stephen Colbert included). With the rise of the internet and music blogs, independent labels and the acts on their rosters can no longer be ignored. More exposure means more nominations means more wins means more votes for the next year. Over the past few years this has probably led to the inevitable win for Arcade Fire. But it probably isn’t good news for the Grammys.

Although this year’s show had the biggest audience in years, people are unlikely to come back if the names in the envelopes are ones they’ve never heard of. For every pro-Arcade Fire tweet Sunday night, there were three more wondering who the hell the band was. There was similar backlash against Best New Artist winner Esperanza Spalding, who upset the world’s favorite juvenile, Justin Bieber. If we’ve learned anything about award shows, it’s that people like seeing their commercial favorites win trophies and to HELL with art! And since ratings matter more than anything, changes can easily be made to coddle the mainstream lovers (see: the ridiculous ten-nominee Best Picture categoy at the Oscars).

So although this year’s awards were definitely a step in the right direction for the Grammys, I’m not holding my breath for any permanent change. I can’t imagine heads of the big labels were too happy this week, and I can’t imagine the academy has so much integrity that it’s willing to sacrifice ratings to retain it’s dignity. But for the time being, we indie music lovers should relish in the victory. The mainstream has been infiltrated by the independents and now it’s our turn to laugh on our high horse as fans of the losers marinate bitterly in their hatred!

I, for one, can’t wait to use my new asshole status to say “Ke$ha? She’s a nobody. It’s all about tUnE-YaRdS. Or haven’t you heard? There’s a new regime in town.”

  • ohsofreshmusic

    @knoxroad Nice post!

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  • TWRHQ

    @knoxroad @anikainlondon @disappointment @godisinthetv @theneedledrop @HTRPlaylist @covermesongs @jaredhoke5acts @OldFlameRecords #ff

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  • Albert

    I like the idea of the indie kingdom. Let’s call it Hipsteria. Coming with free headphones for everyone. But who will be our beloved leader? And are Arcade Fire mainstream now and we hate them?

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