The Butler did it

Arcade Fire for the Win! Hell freezes over as The Woodlands' own stuns Eminem, Gaga at Grammys

Arcade Fire for the Win! Hell freezes over as The Woodlands' own stuns Eminem, Gaga at Grammys

I don’t believe it. The Grammy for Album of the Year actually goes to the best album of the year (what a novel concept), as Arcade Fire wins for The Suburbs. And they got to do a victory lap with “Ready To Start”.

Arcade Fire's leading man Win Butler — who grew up in The Woodlands and put a lot of suburban Houston angst on the best album of the year, there's plenty of Texas in with that Montreal — put it best when he took the stage, grabbed the Grammy and immediately blurted out "What the hell?"

I’m speechless. I am without speech. It’s been a long, phlegm-filled night, but this makes it all worth it. Good night. Pass the NyQuil.

I’m battling a sinus infection and heavily medicated, which means I may be hallucinating, but I could swear that someone came into the Grammys in an egg earlier in the night.

Oh well, maybe a DayQuil-induced state is the perfect way to take in the bizarre music awards spectacle that is equal parts sublime and silly. Let’s do a little recap of the festivities, shall we?

Leading up to the only moment that matters. Arcade Fire ... the best album of the year ... actually winning the award, beating out Eminem, Lady Gaga and Lady Antebellum in the process. Yes, I have to say it again.


Other highlights:

- A show-opening tribute to Aretha Franklin feels a little bit like the Christina Aguilera Redemption Medley, as she attempts to atone for her National Anthem flub by belting out every note to the rafters. Still, a well-meaning homage to a true star who, we can only pray, overcomes her health problems.

- Train wins the first award for “Hey, Soul Sister”, possibly the most grating song in recording history. We’re off to a flying start.

- Lady Gaga performs her new single, “Born This Way”. I liked the song the first time I heard it, when it was called “Express Yourself” and sung by Madonna. It’s the first time I truly feel like Gaga’s hype is outshining her talent.

- Muse ups the unintentional humor factor of their already bombastic music by adding some bizarre Broadway rejects who pretend to vandalize the set. 

- Bruno Mars, after backing B.O.B. on “Nothin On You”, provides the show with its first truly memorable performance by transforming his taut single “Grenade” into a doo-wop showcase for his charismatic vocals. Janelle Monae follows with an intriguing space-funk rendering of “Cold War”. Bet her album sales soar this week. Good stuff all around.

- Maybe it’s me, but wouldn’t it be better for the long-term prospects of Justin Bieber if he didn’t lip-synch the majority of his live performance? Usher does him a solid though by including the kid as part of his energetic rendition of “OMG”.

- Mumford & Sons, undaunted by their spot as openers for Bob Dylan, give an acoustic performance that’s positively, well, electrifying. The Avett Brothers aren’t bad either, although the lumbering “Head Full Of Doubt” isn’t my favorite of theirs. As for the Bob, the instrumentation of the two bands overwhelmed his voice, but his wide-armed posture as he delivers “Maggie’s Farm” is just the type of idiosyncratic touch that all us Dylanologists will obsess about for years.

- How did Grammy miss the chance to bring out the Alan Parsons Project for a quick verse of “Eye In The Sky” as Lady Antebellum performed soundalike “Need You Now”?

- Cee-Lo is dressed like Toucan Sam and being accompanied by Muppets knockoffs and Gwyneth Paltrow. I immediately check to make sure I’m using the proper dosage amounts on my medication.

- Who knew Nicole Kidman was such a Katy Perry fan?  As for the performance, meh.

- “Need You Now” wins Song Of The Year. Somewhere, a bitter Alan Parsons contemplates a new Project that will result in the eradication of those thieving rascals from Lady Antebellum.

- Seth Rogen just made a joke about getting high. Imagine that.

- Doctor Dre joins Eminem for new single “I Need A Doctor”. It’s a little disappointing that Dre, a guy responsible for such sonic innovation throughout his career, is taking a new direction that sounds like an Evanescence B-side.

- Damn it! My Grammy pool just went down the tubes with Esperanza Spalding’s win in Best New Artist.

- Mick Jagger pretty much walks away, or should I say rooster-struts away, with the show with “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love”, his tribute to the late, great Solomon Burke. Who needs the Stones? Put Mick on the road in front of a soul revue, stat.

- Barbara Streisand comes out to intone “Evergreen” for an appreciative audience. For me, it’s a throwback to when I would oversleep on Sunday mornings and my Mom would blast Barbara on her stereo to get me up.

- Grammy shows its whiteness by choosing “Need You Now” for Record Of The Year. Alan Parsons places a call to see if Eminem will storm the stage in his behalf.

- Arcade Fire delivers a glorious racket on “Month Of May”. Alas, the impact is undercut by the odd decision to have crazed bikers with helmet cams menacingly circle the stage. (LOOK OUT, YOU FOOLS,YOU’LL COLLIDE!)

Arcade Fire
Win Butler and his wife/bandmate Regina Chassange are the main players in Arcade Fire.
Win Butler
Win Butler — raised in the Woodlands — riffs on life in the suburbs in Arcade Fire's new album.
Arcade Fire magazine
Arcade Fire is big enough to have been on the cover of the Canadian edition of Time magazine — five years ago. Butler went to college in Canada, where he met his wife.
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