Arcade Fire Hit Mainstream

musicLate last night, Arcade Fire upset Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Eminem and Katy Perry to win the most prestigious Grammy Award, for album of the year. Most people, it seems, hadn't heard of Arcade Fire.

In fact, a website is collecting America's response to Arcade Fire's big win. You've got to check out


If my memory serves correct, and the archives of this blog back it up, we started going nutso for Arcade Fire back in 2004 when Funeral was released. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) made SLS13 back in July 2005 and Wake Up was recorded as my favourite song of that entire year.

I loved Funeral, in fact, I still do. It was a pleasant surprise to see them pull off the upset last night. Even better is reading the angry reaction from folks who didn't know they existed.

But it seems as if our little secret is out.

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The grammy's are nothing more than an incestuous little circle jerk of insiders & hipsters that live in the old skool of music (the big powerful machine feeds us what we like). Not sure why you'd feel winning a grammy has any meaning.

But that said, even in that respect I don't think they deserve to win it. Lady Gaga deserves to win it.

If you strip aside all the outrageous behaviour, fashion crap & your own biases, Gaga is a better musical artist than Arcade Fire are. She is clearly more diverse musically & bluntly, is a better singer. You have to witness gaga singing raw to realize she DOES have a voice. And she is creative musically. Her tracks cross into many realms of music. Arcade Fire is the same old dull "indie hipster" rock that got boring after Death Cab released Plans. Not saying it's bad. I'm just saying it's not brilliant.

February 14, 2011 @ 5:52 PM


I never heard of Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire, or Katy Perry. I love Lady Antebellum though. They're great.

February 14, 2011 @ 6:00 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

IMHO, Arcade Fire > Lady Gaga.

February 14, 2011 @ 6:04 PM


True, the Grammy's don't mean anything, but it's nice to see a real band win.

February 14, 2011 @ 6:12 PM


Oh, Cheryl. You read this blog yet you don't know who Lady Gaga and Katy Perry are. So you must have the Internet.
You are an enigma.

February 14, 2011 @ 8:01 PM


And Irvine's pretty dead on.

February 14, 2011 @ 8:03 PM

Rick C in Oakville

Too bad the Bieber kid or Drake didn't win in their category, a little more Canadiana to upset the faithful down south.
Really can't figure what the Grammy's judges use for their criteria, Arcade is Good, but the only time I hear them played it seems to be on the CBC with Gian Ghomeshi (spelling?).

February 14, 2011 @ 8:05 PM


Arcade Fire is a mainstay of most of America's "better" alt-rock stations (yes, they have them down there and some of them are damned good). In the US, stations do not have the "I'll get my CanCon requirement by playing these guys" factor. They are choosing to play Arcade Fire because the music is worthy of airplay over something else.

Although she is not to my taste (in more ways than one), I agree that Lady Gaga has true, raw talent. It is unfortunate that either she or the "machine" feels that the outrageous outfits, stunts and behaviour are needed to draw attention to and promote her. Flash over substance. That is bassackwards to me, but typical of the American entertainment industry.

February 14, 2011 @ 8:44 PM

Whitby - Clark

Here's a great article speaking volumes towards arcade fire.

February 14, 2011 @ 8:52 PM


Ummm....never heard of her?

February 14, 2011 @ 9:13 PM


I stopped watching the Grammys back in the late 1990's - they don't award real bands or singers. Boybands, pop bands, shit like Jessica simpson, Augilera & Britney getting song of the year awards? Come'on. The Grammys are a joke. But like Mae says, it's nice to see a real band get an award.

February 14, 2011 @ 11:24 PM


Is Cheryl really real? I mean really?

February 15, 2011 @ 8:39 AM


The other secret that's out is that you follow Rosie. Strange.

February 15, 2011 @ 9:05 AM


For what's it worth, I thought the award should have gone to Katy Perry. Tough that they had her newlywed husband hosting SNL in New York and her to perform on stage at the Grammys during Valentine's Day weekend.

February 15, 2011 @ 9:09 AM


Rihanna (also a performer) was the evening's top snub. She only received a non-televised video award despite being dominate in radio play throughout the year. Her token category award should have gone to Glee.
Look at the overall list of 2011 winners; The Doors, Iron Maiden, Jeff Beck, Mingus Big Band, Neil Young, the 102 year old Gospel singer... And who booked Mick to perform while awarding a Grammy instead to Sir Paul? Plus a second Beatles compiliation Grammy for Historical Album.

February 15, 2011 @ 9:17 AM


People... You gotta remember the award is for Album of the Year. Not "which artist is better/who do we care more about in this overexposed world" of the year award. Sure politics plays a role in selecting the winner, but when it comes down to the meat and potatoes - it's which album is deserving of the title "Best Album of the Year".

Now besides The Suburbs, I haven't listened to any of the other albums. Can anyone else say they've listened to all the albums?

And for those who want to knock my favorite album of the year and the band that made it, my response to them is to go listen to The Suburbs before saying something extremely unintelligent.

February 15, 2011 @ 10:23 AM


I liked Lady Gaga better back when she used to be Madonna.

February 15, 2011 @ 10:35 AM

Jason Paris

Those tweets are pretty hillarious. Amazing how sure some people are in their view that if they've "never heard of it," or that "it's not on their radio," or that "they don't have a #1 album" they can't be very good. The Grammy's aren't supposed to be a popularity contest (although generally are), so this is a nice surprise. Maybe some will now question why so little diversity in music is on their radiowaves. Doubtful though.

February 15, 2011 @ 12:04 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Back in 2005, when Arcade Fire broke on local radio, I was listening to a lot more Edge 102 than I do now.

I distinctly remember that at least three singles from Funeral received a shitload of airplay. To be specific, "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)", "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Wake Up" were played like crazy on a very mainstream terrestrial radio station in Toronto.

That was 2005... the playing of "Wake Up" extended well into 2006. In this city at least, your average fan of guitar-based music, be it rock or indie or whatever, was well aware of Arcade Fire these last six years.

And a quick note about Lady Gaga... that new single is way too similar to Madonna's Express Yourself. It's uncanny.

February 15, 2011 @ 12:41 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Oh... and I don't follow Rosie.

February 15, 2011 @ 12:43 PM


@Mike: Your love of Arcade Fire doesn't surprise me. You've made it clear on this blog you're a big fan of staid, dull "alt" rock.

@digger: Surf over to Radio Info and take a look at the ratings for Alternative rock in the USA. New York city doesn't have a station. LA has KROQ, medicre ratings. San Fran's Live 105, once a powerhouse is wallowing in the basement. WBCN Boston is dead. Seattle's The End 107,7 is also wallowing in the basement (one of the stations that championed Grunge). A long list of heritage alt rock stations are dying

Why? Because of music like Arcade Fire. This band is not that creative. They are not brilliant. They are not innovative. They just released a better record than the rest of the sludge that populates the skeleton that is now "alternative rock". In fact in the realm of Canadian Alternative, Arcade Fire place well below Feist & Metric (two bands that also got discovered AFTER their best records).

Arcade Fire might be on the top of the alternative rock charts at the moment. But that's not because of their strength it's because the format is so incredibly weak. If this record had to stand on it's own merits in the heyday of Alt Rock, it would have been lost in the shuffle

Gaga should have won.

February 15, 2011 @ 1:10 PM


I wrote the above FYI, but Mike so what if you heard Arcade Fire on Edge 102. How quick would Edge have been to embrace Arcade Fire without Cancon rules back then? They wouldn't have.

The Arcade Fire record is average.

February 15, 2011 @ 1:15 PM


Arcade Fire is announced today as headlining the 2011 Bonnaroo music festival along with Eminem this June.

February 15, 2011 @ 5:27 PM


I don't listen to modern rock. Plain and simple. Anyway, who cares about the Grammies. Go Habs.

February 15, 2011 @ 5:50 PM


@Anonymous - I have access to ratings in the US. Overall, alt-rock is just that - alternative, so, pretty much by definition, not pure mainstream.

It may not be realistic to expect top ratings from an alt-rock/modern rock station. Don't tell that to KTBZ in Houston, though - they're the top rock station in the market, with about 50% more listeners than the next rock station. Even though it is owned by Clear Channel, KTBZ is a "better" modern rock station. For what it's worth, Edmonton's Sonic 102.9 was on top of their market not long ago.

I've mentioned in here before that KROQ doesn't always win the ratings battle with Clear Channel's KYSR. Neither are that good, IMHO. No wonder The Edge isn't very good, considering that it is being modelled after KROQ.

The "heritage", as you put it, alt-rock stations may be dying, but there are others taking their place, There are too many to list here.

Any station that wants to be successful needs to really connect and be relevant to their market, play relevant new music and entertain listeners by introducing them to some new or local artists (otherwise the station isn't much better than a jukebox). Any station can add Beady Eye. How about some Interpol, The xx, Adele, Plan B, Foster the People et al.?

Maybe I am different from most people. I do not want to listen to the same old shite over and over again. Give me/people a good reason to tune in to a station, and I/they will. Otherwise, I/they tune out. The general trend in broadcast radio listenership will tell you which of those two is happening.

February 15, 2011 @ 9:16 PM

music lover

i never write in to these comment sections, buy you people are idiots,
arcade fire are incredible, their albums, their live performances,
i cant understand why there is any shock they won, if anything its a great day for real music and real artists

your ignorance of the band is your own fault, they are huge, they sell out stadiums across the world

im sure its only 16 year old girls who havent heard of them, and even that is a disgrace

anyone who only heard of arcade fire last night needs to reevaluate their lives, youre obviously living in a pop manufactured bubble where the only thing you understand is justin bieber, get a life, arcade fire will be remembered like the beatles and radiohead, justin bieber wont....

this is why rock bands start off in the uk and europe, americans have no concept of indie rock, death cab for cutie are muck but they are the only alternative band you understand, wat about bloc party, arctic monkeys, kasabian, we are scientists??

February 16, 2011 @ 6:32 AM

Mike from Lowville

What I want to know is, where the hell was that Kanye West asshole when Arcade was announced as the winner?

February 16, 2011 @ 8:34 AM


@Music Lover (ironic)

No one is saying Arcade Fire is bad...but really...nothing ground breaking.

And to say Arcade will be remembered like the Beetles???? OK now I know you have to be a teenager.

February 16, 2011 @ 10:42 AM


They fucking suck and the fact they won best album at the Brits makes me wanna puke.

Wannabe Pixies or something

February 16, 2011 @ 12:55 PM


Lady Gaga sucks too.

February 16, 2011 @ 12:56 PM


@Digger (I was Anonymous FYI)

Sonic 102.9 'great ratings' were an aberration. The station has returned to the middle of the pack; below the Bear and just above K97. I lived in Edmonton, Sonic WAS a good station years ago. Rogers bought it and gutted it.

Where are the rest of these great alternative radio stations? The largest city in North America (and one that is liberal and progressive) can't support a modern rocker.

But it all becomes clear when you read your comment about KTBZ. The station may call itself "New Rock Alternative" but it's play list clearly leans Active Rock. Not long ago they played Metallica. When did Metallica become Alternative rock? Or Chevelle? Or The Goo Goo Dolls? Do you even have any idea what "alternative rock" is?

Alternative Rock is dead bud. It's a lifeless corpse, supported only by the skinny jean Jagermeister drinking hipsters of youth & the aging hipsters that can't let go of the past. Ironic is that most of those people holding on to the past have a completely watered down idea of what Edge 102 and Alternative rock was.

Here is some of the alternative rock that CFNY 102.1 once played.

Book of Love - Pretty Boys

Yaz - The Only Way is Up

Blow Monkey's - It Doesn't Have to Be this way

Japan - Life in Tokyo

OMD - Souvenir

Dead Kennedy's - Holiday in Cambodia

If you wish to argue about these bands falling into that "alternative" genre feel free. All these songs were in rotation on 102.1 when Don Berns or David Marsden was at the helm.

February 16, 2011 @ 4:17 PM

Ajax Mike

Wait, you mean music taste varies from person to person? C'mon, can't the internet agree on ANYTHING?

February 17, 2011 @ 6:57 AM

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