Who is Arcade Fire?
Variations of this question echoed across America after this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony, where the band shocked millions by taking home this year’s Album of the Year Grammy. Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” took down Eminem’s comeback album “Recovery”, as well as the respective hit albums from pop icons Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Many celebrities and media outlets praised the band for their out-of-nowhere victory, while several others voiced complaints about the win being “transparent” and “fake”.
The most outspoken opponent of how Arcade Fire won this highly coveted award was well-known record executive Steve Stoute. He issued a letter shortly after Grammy night, criticizing the “sheer coincidence” of Arcade Fire performing a second set immediately prior to the presentation for Album of the Year. His focus was to raise awareness for the lack of urban representation and the disregard for cultural icons in the Academy’s voting process. Instead, along with the others who snubbed Arcade Fire, he generated a huge amount of PR for the relatively unknown Canadian band. His letter pitted a huge record mogul against the lowly indie rock underdog, and who doesn’t like to root for the underdog? Stoute could have made his criticisms without cutting down the band and downplaying their awarded success. For better or worse, his point on under-representation was dwarfed by the responses from Arcade Fire fans and people across America who want to support the band’s come-from-behind victory.
Arcade Fire manager Scott Rodger responded to Stoute’s letter in a defensive statement yesterday, successfully adding another huge PR win for the band. Rodger rebuttals the claims that the bands second performance was staged as an opening for their award acceptance with a thoroughly sound and sensible argument. He explains how the band was slated to perform in this slot due to the projected drop in ratings towards the end of the awards ceremony. He highlighted the fact that even Kanye, an artist many feel did not receive the credit and acknowledgement he deserved this year at the Grammy Award show, tweeted congratulations and praise for the band’s triumph. He cut a little to deep into the faults of the other albums up for nomination, but his honesty and genuine attempt to shift the focus back to the band’s great achievement pushed the band further ahead in this PR battle.
So exactly who is Arcade Fire? Thanks to an against-all-odds Grammy win, a record exec who lost the point he was trying to highlight, and a good manager with strong PR skills, a much larger amount of Americans now know the name.