Will Bon Iver Be The Arcade Fire Of 2012? And Other Pre-Grammy Nomination Show Questions


Kanye West, "Runaway"

MJ: This morning while I was waking up the possibility of Kanye getting a lot of nominations was floated by the Los Angeles Times' Randall Roberts, via the news-gabber station WCBS. But I don't know. Did Dark come out too long ago? (This might be a good place to note that this year's Grammy eligibility period runs from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011.) Is Still Pretty Unrepentant Kanye going to be a turnoff for the nominating committee? Will the nominating committee still have "Black And Yellow" stuck in their head and perplexingly vote for Wiz Khalifa? Or will Nicki Minaj be rewarded for being one of the most vibrant things to happen to pop in the past 12 months? Even Taylor Swift's covering her.

NM: Despite the release date and everything outside the music, Kanye will always appeal to the people who decide on awards, particularly album awards (Pazz included, of course) because of his—as Joshua Clover once put it—"I'm-a-genius-and-here's-my-record" style auteurship. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is presumably the pinnacle of that arc (If not, I can't imagine what's next), but its failure to produce "Gold Digger"-type single hurts its chances here, I think. I'd love see Nicki win Rap Album or pick up and even pick up Album of the Year nomination. Pink Friday is better than Dark Twisted Fantasy anyway, and here its supposed weakness, not enough "spitting," might play to its advantage.

But I want to take this moment to call attention to a very distressing rumor, one that has picked up steam as "critical" year-end lists have begun to be unveiled, namely, that Bon Iver's self-titled LP has a shot at a Grammy nomination for album of the year. Maura—here's where I tee it up for you—what do you think of Bon Iver's chances? Would it be deserving?

MJ: Ha. Well, "deserving" to me might mean a very different thing than "deserving" to the people deciding the nominations, who if they were going to pick one indie-leaning type might lean toward Justin Vernon's pillowy, produced, saxophone-rich second record. (Remember when Eminem went up against Steely Dan a decade ago?) And yesterday Paste crowned Bon Iver its record of the year, which is as good a sign as appealing to a particular "rock is important but it can't rock too hard" aesthetic.

Plus dude has a great story. From heartbreak in a cabin to singing with Kanye? I could see it getting the Second Annual Arcade Fire Nomination For An Important Independent Release In Yet Another Year Defined By Fragmentation.

I don't like the record very much, though. I listened to it yesterday and I understand the appeal of it on some level—Jess Harvell outlined it for us a few months ago, and called it "probably the only album around that will have you thinking of Neil Young's Harvest, Sting's Fields of Gold, early Kranky albums, and the KLF's Chill Out all at once"—but I was... well, I just kept thinking, "And?" (I also heard snatches of other adult-contemporary touchstones of yore. Like Breathe.) What do you think?

NM: Well since you asked, I think it's a boring record with little shot at receiving any serious Grammy recognition. "Pillowy" is good way to describe it, both for its airy production and for capturing the bedroom feel (I imagine it's also a good sleeping aid, which I don't mean as a back-handed compliment; that's a fine thing for a record to be). But I can't picture this record anything other than mood music, kind of like a beared, flannel-wearing Buddha Box, the sound of applying a coat of tan paint to your living room.

Even Justin Vernon's story, once you remove the proper nouns, isn't particularly special: the man going off to a cabin the woods to Get Away From It All and write deep shit is one of the founding myths of our country, right up there with lone warrior who stands up to the corrupt establishment and the five dollar, all-you-can-eat pizza buffet.

Which is all just to say that it I can't imagine dude being nominated for any major Grammys, and that For Emma, Forever Ago was a better record anyways. Arcade Fire was indie in the sense that Pitchfork reviewed it before Entertainment Weekly, but sonically it was a huge record with strings, crescendos, melodies, etc. It's been awhile, but I can't remember if Bon Iver has any of those things.

MJ: Neither can I. And I listened to it yesterday! But something tells me that I'm not exactly the demo.

Check out Maura's and Nick's picks for the big four categories after the jump.



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