Who will speak for the white men? If you’ve opted for the waterboarding by watercooler that is the online chatter about last night’s Grammy awards, you gather that Whitney Houston was properly honored (or not), Adele is fine (or just okay), and that Chris Brown “ended his performance by back-flipping off the stage, though sadly not off the earth.” (Also: Nicki Minaj.) But what did you learn about the night’s second biggest winners, the Foo Fighters? Or Best New artist Bon Iver? It’s not an injustice, of course, that these white folks commanded as little space in the massive outpouring of quickie Grammy takes as they did; the Foo Fighters are profoundly dull, and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, well, you’re either already sick of hearing about him or have no idea who he is. (Life as Kanye West’s token indie-rock collaborater will polarize one’s image this way.)
But the Grammys, as widely watched as they are widely dismissed, exist to turn all notions of the inane and the crucial topsy-turvy, so it is in that spirit that we give the white men our ear. And tweak theirs. Vernon and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl decided to make statements in their acceptance speeches, and both of them amounted to, Hey, we’re better than everybody else. Vernon’s routine might have been the only one smarmier than Grohl’s. This guy — whose music we like — stood up and playacted the awkwardness he thought we should all feel over how out-of-place a person as sincere and focused on his music as he must seem on this bullshit carnival stage of lizards masquerading as human musicians. And then he thanked the voters (“Sweet hook-up”). This was so passive-aggressive some people took it for humility. It’s the white bro’s burden, we guess, to accept the award even though you’re down both with Kanye (whose last disc was not up for Best Album) and a bunch of obscure indie rockers who tragically go unrecognized by the Grammy-givers.
Dave Grohl, an appealing personality from his days as Nirvana’s drummer, devoted his speech to the music, man. The Foo Fighters recorded their latest album, which is bland and featureless as tube socks, in Grohl’s garage — or so goes the story that Grohl has been telling since he started giving interviews about planning the album — without the use of “computers” (but enlisting the expertise of famous producer Butch Vig). Never mind that you’d never know this listening to the album. Computers would surely uncover deviations from standard studio sound recordings. What matters is that Grohl pointed to both his heart and his brain, and told us that the album came from these two places. He said this with such passion that a wire and some sparks actually popped out from behind his left ear.
But honestly, it’s almost as if Dave Grohl is paranoid that his own ability to churn out popular no-hyphens rock means he’s some sort of a robot. It’s just sad to see someone so desperately selling their own authenticity, and in doing projecting their shortcomings on virtually everyone else making popular music — the ones using the computers. Bon Iver, meanwhile, is semi-famous in part for using Autotune. And he still writes from his heart, or, at least, about it. As for his brain matter, we all know how much of that is required to dismiss something as “awkward.”
Foo Fighters win:
Bon Iver win: