I almost wanted to have a Kanye moment last night when Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs lost to The Black Keys’ Brothers for Best Alternative Music Album at the Grammys. Don’t get me wrong—I love the Keys. But I mean, Arcade Fire made one of the best albums of all time! Much like Mr. West, all I needed to do was be patient—the situation was rectified by the end of the night. Arcade Fire pulled off a major upset over Eminem, Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum, and Katy Perry, unexpectedly winning last night’s top prize for Album of the Year. I actually squealed when Barbra Streisand opened the envelope and called their name, because I am a hardcore Arcade Fire fan and have long been bummed about their bad Grammy luck. (Their first two records lost to The White Stripes for Best Alternative Album.) And the smile on Win Butler’s face in this exit performance of “Ready to Start” is about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, after the jump, I enumerate 10 reasons I love Arcade Fire.
- Because lead singer/songwriter Win is amazing. He grew up in Texas and went to ritzy prep school Exeter Academy, where he played basketball and performed with a band called Willy Wanker and the Chocolate Factories. He studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence before heading to McGill University in Montreal, where he met his future wife and bandmate, Régine Chassagne, and founded Arcade Fire.
- Because this Spike Jonze directed video for “The Suburbs” (above) is just wonderful.
- Because even though major labels have been knocking on their door for years, Arcade Fire has stuck with an independent—Merge Records, which is coincidentally my hometown label, founded by members of Superchunk.
- Because they often use an instrument called a hurdy-gurdy.
- Because their band name is so good. Explains Win, “It’s based on a story that someone told me. It’s not an actual event, but one that I took to be real. I would say that it’s probably something that the kid made up, but at the time I believed him.”
- Because of this song (above), “Suburban War,” which is just so freaking gorgeous, even if there is no video yet. Get on that, folks.
- Because they’ve collaborated with David Bowie. He joined them for “Wake Up,” while they helped him reimagine “Life on Mars.” Which is the best karaoke song ever, by the way.
- Because The Suburbs had eight different cover designs. And, really, why pick just one?
- Because they pick unusual places to have shows—they once famously played the old, crumbling Judson Memorial Church in New York City. And this year, when they graduated to mega-stadiums like Madison Square Garden, they broadcast a Terry Gilliam-directed version of the concert over YouTube to make things just a little more special.
- Because even though this song was used in the preview for “Where the Wild Things Are” and oodles of Super Bowl commercials in 2010, it still just gets me.
How did you feel about Arcade Fire’s win? Did it restore your faith in the Grammys?