The Grammys proved favorable for Justin Vernon and Bon Iver on Sunday evening. The band won in every category that didn't also feature Adele -- which amounted to Best Alternative Album for their self-titled release, and also the Best New Artist honors.
A widespread buzz of excitement reverberated from the Midwestern Twitter-verse after Vernon, dressed in a nice suit purchased in the Twin Cities, claimed the second win and gave a speech, which appeared to be prepared. Although we'd love to imagine that Gimme Noise's ample Bon Iver Grammys commentary leading up to Sunday's show was read in every town, there were some fans pretty peeved and confused when Best New Artist was handed down. If Bon Iver "kind of said fuck you a little bit" to the Grammys, these people said it a lot after the winner was announced. [jump]
Vernon was filmed smiling a few times over the course of the evening, and was genial -- albeit "uncomfortable" -- when he accepted the best new artist award.
"It's really hard to accept this award," he said during his speech. "There's so much talent out there and on this stage. There's so much talent that's not here." He thanked his parents, he thanked Eau Claire, Wisconsin, he thanked Jagjaguwar, and he thanked the voters for a "sweet, sweet hookup." This was a much better idea than what he had told The New York Times he would say last fall, and that episode will probably be largely forgotten.
It will be forgotten, at least in part, because now a whole lot of people who never knew a thing about this guy are suddenly involved.
World, meet a wealth of amusing misspellings originating from a cast of social networkers who thought that Skrillex, Nicki Minaj, J. Cole and, ahem, the Band Perry got robbed. (Notably, there was not a huge outcry when Bon Iver beat out Foster the People, Radiohead, Death Cab for Cutie, and My Morning Jacket for best alternative album this afternoon.) Guessing these people didn't read the liner notes for Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy close enough and probably aren't contributing to WhoIsBonIver.tumblr.com.
For every Midwestern music fan who held out a tiny bit of hope that an indie artist loved by Pitchfork could topple a swell of new major-label talent, there are dozens more who are saying stuff like the person below in the aftermath of the Grammys.
Brooklyn Vegan focused on the "Bonny Bear" faction, and thanks to some pretty devoted documentation by our Texas cousins at Houston Press, we have: Bond Iver, Ron Iver, Ron River, Bron Iver, Bon Hiver, among others.
Jokes aside, these wins have serious implications for the future of the awards and the future of Bon Iver and other acts on independent labels. Although Vernon declined to perform -- and in a night that shifted to remembering Whitney Houston, too much freaking Chris Brown, and some other stuff, the Etta James tribute really would've been the least awkward spot for him -- he did leave an impact on the night with his presence and his words.
The Grammys will always have their Paul McCartneys, Dave Grohls, Whitney Houstons, and Adeles -- heavy and obvious favorites built by the biggest labels in the world -- but its class of Beck Hansens, Wayne Coynes, Janelle Monaes, Win Butlers, and Justin Vernons is growing. Whenever the Recording Academy voters take a break from making the "who the fuck" jokes with their predictable nominations, the Grammys are a little easier to stomach.
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