Category Archives: Uncategorized

You’re on fire, Arcade Fire

Who is Arcade Fire?


Arcade Fire, Photo Courtesy MusicRooms

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.


NFLPA Super Bowl Ad, Video Courtesy NFLPA and Third Story Films.

A year ago, the large majority of people across the nation would never have pictured the NFL when they heard the term “lockout”. As we near the summer offseason, the debate over whether or not the NFL will exist next season intensifies with each passing moment. The problem lies in the disputatious labor negotiations between the owners and the NFL players. The NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) has become increasingly more active and has been featured constantly in sports media in the past few months. The main problem for the NFLPA throughout this negotiation period has been the fact that most fans side with the owners, opposing the views of the professional athletes they usually admire. Most fans take the stance of “I would play for free”, and can’t sympathize with the millionaire athletes’ complaints about pay issues. Fans don’t seem to have a problem backing the billionaire owners who they couldn’t pick out of a line-up of old dudes in expensive suits. The NFLPA is looking past the ignorance of these football fans and has recently made numerous efforts to get fans back on their side. They’ve taken the battle online, launching a blog titled in their new campaign aptly named “NFL Lockout”. Despite their obvious lack of creativity with campaign names, they’ve also launched a twitter account and Facebook Page. Several thousand fans now tweet in support of the NFL players, and over 44,000 people like the Facebook Page that proudly states “Players and fans will stand as one”. Their goal is to change their connection with fans, and they’re using the Social Media Age to spread a petition to block the lockout. NFLPA tweets highlight the effects a lockout will have on NFL fans, and allow fans to directly share and discuss issues with the player’s association. NFLPA even featured a Super Bowl ad where the NFLPA president himself states “We want to play.” The NFLPA in these regards has made several brilliant moves in the chess game between the owners and the players. More and more fans are beginning to sympathize with these players and realize that the owners have made some unfair moves that are not in anybody’s best interest except for the owners themselves. Fans and players are now on the same side of the debate, forcing more pressure on the owners and increasing the likelihood of an agreement to this collective bargaining negotiation. It is quite possible that this tremendous PR move will ultimately save the 2011 NFL season.


Carmelo’s Dilemma

The NBA trade deadline on February 24th looms ever closer, and the verdict on which jersey Carmelo Anthony will don for the remainder of the season is still very much up in the air. Possible trade options regarding the Denver Nuggets star have been circulating constantly through various avenues of sports media ever since the 2010-2011 season began in October. Melo’s current $80 million contract expires in July, a fact that has created a media frenzy in recent months.

In any sport, trade talk surrounding a star player can have a huge impact on the cohesion and success of the team as a whole. Fans that have watched a certain athlete perform spectacularly time and time again, develop a strong relationship with that athlete. It’s no shock, then, that these fans will quickly turn on the athlete if they feel they were abandoned or betrayed. It’s a tough decision for any famous sports player, as their own emotions, their desire to win championships, their legacy, and their future all come into play. They worry about disappointing fans and teammates alike. Public relations play a huge role in this part of the star athlete’s life, as it separates those remembered as team legends from those stuck in fan-fueled infamy.

Carmelo’s situation with the Denver Nuggets has been a public relations nightmare for this entire basketball season. His request to be traded was no doubt warranted. In over thirty years, the Nuggets have never even made it to the finals, despite recent impressive season and post-season performances with Melo on the roster. In his five-year career he has put up outstanding offensive numbers and led the Nuggets from a spot at the bottom of the NBA, to being consistent play-off contenders. Carmelo’s desire to win championships and resulting frustration over the last few seasons as a Nugget has led to him expressing his desire to leave the club that drafted him 5 years ago. He’s made it clear to the fans and his team that although he will continue to give his best efforts while in Denver, he doesn’t want to be there. Of course, the fans are going to react accordingly. He continues to post big scoring numbers and has kept his team at the top of the league this season, and yet fans boo him during home games. As the deadline nears and more and more teams are beginning to drop out of the Carmelo trade picture, a new question arises: What will happen to Melo if he is either forced or chooses to stay in Denver?

It’s difficult to relate to sports fans in a city that rallies behind an all-star athlete until you’ve been in their shoes. So is the booing by Denver’s fans an overreaction? Carmelo definitely could have lessened the blow, and effectively made things easier for himself should he stay. Simply stating how much he wishes he could stay in Denver definitely would have helped. He could have showed more support in the city that gave him his first shot in the NBA. He could have said that if things were different, if the team meshed together more effectively, than there’s no doubt he would have stayed. By supporting a team that was built around him and a coach that has always trusted in him, he could have stayed in the hearts of most Denver fans. Instead, he’s focusing on where he’s going rather than where he’s been. He now faces possibly playing for fans that have turned against him for more years to come.

Fergie, don’t pull a Janet Jackson

The Super Bowl Halftime Show has always been widely touted and publicized, with a more and more extravagant show and off-the-wall performance being guaranteed every year.

Super Bowl XLIII Halftime Show, Courtesy Robin Rombach and the Post-Gazette

Originally featuring performances by college marching bands, the Halftime Show now focuses on expanding the viewer demographic by making the Super Bowl more appealing to non-football fans. During Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, the show put on by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake resulted in a huge controversy following a mid-performance wardrobe malfunction. Janet Jackson’s indecent exposure could obviously not be censored during the live performance, and despite claims by the two singers that the incident was purely accidental, suspicions of a scandal resulted in embarrassment for all parties involved with the show.

Photo of Janet and Justin immediately following the Super Bowl XXXVIII incident. Courtesy Mark Drobek, Newsweek.

The NFL, MTV (who produced the show), and CBS were highly scrutinized in the days following the incident, and legal action was even taken by citizens across the nation. To counteract the negative publicity that the 2004 Halftime Show received, the NFL has scheduled older, more conservative bands to perform over the past several years. Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, among other bands whose members are all over the age of 40, have taken the stage in recent years. These bands, however, have put on largely disappointing and lackluster halftime performances and have proved far less appealing to the Super Bowl’s audience, which is made up mostly of those under the age of 40. The Black Eyed Peas are scheduled to perform at halftime show this year, finally ending the older-aged stint and leading many to be apprehensive over whether the show will go over smoothly or lead to more controversy.

In my opinion, the NFL slightly overreacted to the 2004 incident, but it was a result of the ridiculously wide-spread and over-the-top reactions of the media and millions of viewers. The NFL and involved networks took the necessary steps during the aftermath of the event, immediately issuing apologies and conforming to additional censorship demands by the FCC. There was no need to go on a 7 year hiatus in terms of young, popular performers, which has effectively decreased the interest of the Super Bowl’s audience. Hopefully the Black Eyed Pea’s show will go off flawlessly this weekend and the NFL’s unnecessary need to find further ways to cut back the promiscuity of the Halftime Show will be dead forever.

Uncle Soul

[Video courtesy Ben l’Oncle Soul and Motown Records]

Ben l’Oncle Soul, a.k.a. Benjamin Duterde, is a soulful young singer from Tours, France. He has achieved great acclaim across seas for his first EP in 2009, titled Soulwash. Taking the name of “Uncle Soul”, his above cover of The White Stripes well-known single Seven Nation Army is sparking the interests of some fans and critics in the United States. Success in the American market is considered by many the most prolific goal an aspiring artist can achieve, and it is a shame l’Oncle Soul remains largely unknown within the United States. From a public relations standpoint, his record label – Motown Records – could be putting forth a far-greater effort towards promoting a fan-base in the States. After all, it has widely been proven in the past that sales in the U.S. translates much more regularly to sales and popularity in Europe then the other way around (the Beatles being one of several exceptions to this rule). L’Oncle Soul has shown his commitment to his own heritage through fantastic French vocals in his first EP, and should now focus on singing in English if he wishes to conquer the international music industry as he’s currently doing in France. His Seven Nation Army cover proves two things – that he is fully capable of singing in uninhibited, smooth English, and that he wants to be heard by those of us who ne parlais pas francais. His energetic style and take on blues and soul are combined with fantastic vocals and sweet-sounding instrumentals in his chart-topping French EP. There’s little doubt that a predominately English EP or Album would garner less success in the U.S. Overcoming the language barrier should be his label’s main focus in spreading his fan-base, as even his Wikipedia entry is currently listed only in French. Interviews, tours, and web-based interactions with an American audience would allow Uncle Soul to be molded into the international superstar he seems destined to become.