Opinion: Who the hell is Arcade Fire?

Thisanjali Gangoda

Thisanjali Gangoda

Contact Thisanjali Gangoda at [email protected].

Sunday night’s 53rd Annual Grammy Awards brought forth the wrath of Justin Bieber and Eminem fans alike. Furious that their beloved singers lost this year’s Best New Artist and Best Album awards, to the mysterious singer Esperanza Spalding and band Arcade Fire, respectively, they stormed the Internet in a rage. All-caps tweets and viciously-hacked Wikipedia pages relayed outrage and utter disbelief that the likes of virtually unknown artists had won such prestigious awards over the mainstream music favorites.

Critics were surprised to see that the indie rock group Arcade Fire, who sold a little over 480,000 copies of its newest album “The Suburbs,” had any sway over Eminem’s whopping 5.7 million sold copies of “The Recovery.” Fans bemoaned the losses and demanded that these artists show themselves to the world in a more obvious manner than, well, their Grammy-winning music. Howard Stern’s reaction to the Record of the Year nominees began with, “Honestly, does anyone know these songs?”

As delightful as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Drake are, they give the appearance of being one-note, flash-in-the-pan artists with limited aesthetic range. The rhetoric sprawled across social media sites by their fans proves that the obsession with mainstream music stems from a self-centered need to validate the normalcy of an individual’s interests. Tweets like “WHO THE HELL IS ARCADE FIRE?” denote that yes, I am like everyone else and frown upon different forms of artistry and expression. It marginalizes the possibility of underground, independent music having a one-up on the repetitive, gutless corporate music-making machines.

With how far-reaching the Internet’s influence is on global culture and music, there is no reason for self-proclaimed “music lovers” to be so uptight, close-minded and bewildered when independent artists are celebrated for their talents. It’s about time intelligent, creative music takes precedent over bubbly, nonsensical pop disasters. The winners of this year’s Grammys prove that voters are more interested in music that is thoughtful and progressive, music that has soul and purpose. Rather than being Internet deviants set on harassing artist online and disparaging their work out of spite, individuals should explore different genres and broaden their scope of “good music.”

This isn’t to say that because an artist has won a Grammy you are to submit to their following and become an adoring fan. However, the works of Arcade Fire and Esperanza Spalding are as diverse and beautiful as the human population and should be embraced. It’s easy to quickly judge and mock the unknown, especially when you feel that your artists of choice have been slighted. Instead of wasting time proving musical ignorance and arrogance on the Internet, why not explore the unfamiliar and form opinions of it afterward? Spaulding is the first jazz artist to have every won in the category of Best New Artist, and Arcade Fire is at the forefront of the indie rock phenomena.

“Never heard of it” isn’t an adequate argument for why Arcade Fire and Esperanza Spaulding shouldn’t have won a Grammy. Try again next year when Justin Bieber turns, 7, or something.