Arcade Fire's manager bites back at music exec's open letter to Grammys: 'They just made the best album'

Arcade FireArcade Fire manager Scott Rodger has (arcade) fired back at allegations that his Canadian indie rockers knew about their “Album of the Year” Grammy win ahead of time.

Rodger insists there was “no big plot” in spite of what industry player Steve Stoute implied in a full-page ad in the New York Times, which Rodger calls “a nice piece of self-publicity.”

Rodger was referring to Stoute’s vitriolic letter in Sunday’s Times which marveled at the “sheer coincidence” that Arcade Fire were ready to play out the awards show immediately after nabbing their Grammy.

As for whether the least-known band on the Grammy broadcast was in cahoots with insider masterminds and network TV execs, Rodger had this to say:

“Arcade Fire had the final slot on the Grammys as the ratings are low at the end of the broadcast. It really is that simple. We were one of the least-known acts on the bill for a network audience. Don’t you think I wanted a better slot for the band?”

Rodger also said their second performance was not guaranteed, as the producers would have cut it if the awards show had run overtime. In fact, the last half of “Ready to Start” was still drowned-out by sponsorship messages and completely cut from international broadcasts.

Rodger’s assurances aren’t likely to change Stoute’s mind, though. What mystifies this record company executive is that the highest-selling musicians do not necessarily dominate the Grammy Awards. Apparently Stoute forgot that today’s top hitmakers already receive a much more valuable reward… it’s called money.

“Arcade Fire deserved the win this year,” band manager Rodger stated unequivocally. “They made the best album. If the award was named ‘Album Sales Of The Year’ award, there would be no discussion.”

As best as one can rank matters of taste, it would be fairly fruitless to argue with Rodger on those points: “The Suburbs” sold fewer copies but received much better critical notices than nominated records by Eminem, Katy Perry or Ladies Gaga and Antebellum. Metacritic—which gives an averaged rating based on music reviewers nationwide—posted a helpful article that demonstrates this.

It also shows something that might surprise fans of radio pop and indie music alike: Last year, the best-reviewed album (that was Grammy-nominated) also won Album of the Year. In terms of critical praise, Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” just squeaked past Gaga’s “The Fame,” but it soared past every other Best Album nominee, according to review aggregator Metacritic.

And considering “Fearless” was also the bestselling record in the U.S. for 2009, Stoute’s concern that the Grammys “have clearly lost touch with contemporary popular culture” makes it seem like he’s clearly lost his short-term memory.

More from EW.com:

Surprise! Arcade Fire’s ‘The Suburbs’ wing Album of the Year Grammy: ‘What the hell?’
Backstage at the Grammys with Justin Bieber, Usher and Matthew Morrison

Esperanza Spalding: Who is the surprise Best New Artist?

Comments (117 total) Add your comment
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  • Justin

    Conceited much?

    • Chelsea Morning

      Read much?

      Justin, you might want to read and consider the points (if you can comprehend them) before commenting. ‘conceited much?’ is a worthless comment.

      • SG

        I think your comment is more worthless.
        Justin states he thinks that Stoute is full of himself. You say nothing about your opinion on the article.

      • BC

        “Justin states he thinks that Stoute is full of himself.”

        Uh, he does? That is not, in fact, what Justin says. Now, it might indeed be what Justin thinks, but we have no way to know. All he’s done is post a vague, cryptic comment — “Conceited much?” — with no identifiable target.

        He could be referring to Stoute. He could be referring to Rodger. He could be referring to Arcade Fire. He could be referring to the Grammy Awards. He could be referring to this article’s author.

        So yeah, Chelsea Morning is correct: Justin’s comment was worthless. It was also an annoying way for the thread to start.

        The world needs better web commenters…

      • BC

        And EW needs better paragraph breaks. Stop disrespecting your commenters’ time and effort.

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      • Arcade Fire Fan

        thanks BC – well said

      • Justin K

        You’re just worthless.

      • YSoSerious

        BC you’re a moron. Lighten up buddy, it’s an entertainment story.

    • Justin

      It’s better than having “FIRST” as the first comment. No?

  • nick

    the music in mainstream pop culture is mostly bland and unlistenable. If the Grammys are out of touch with pop culture, then I’m all for it! And industry “player” Steve Stoute sounds like a dips**t.

  • rocknmovies

    The best album of 2010 won the award for album of the year. So it’s all fair. Justice at last.

  • TQB

    They have an award show based on a popularity contest. It’s called the People’s Choice. They have a ranking every week based on sales; it’s called Billboard.

    • Chelsea Morning

      Exactly!

    • MT

      The funny part is that nobody cares of People Choice Awards, but they are coming from all over the world for the Grammys. By choosing talent over popularity, Grammys are keeping their legacy alive.

    • Ashley Smith

      The Grammys have always tried to strike a balance with commercial artists and the lesser-known musician types. Music is universal, you can’t say something is good or bad because everyone has different tastes. I personally enjoy Esperanza, Cobie Callait and Sade, but I also like to listen to LMFAO and Pitbull and drop it like it’s hot. Then I have the days where I listen to nothing but Celine, Whitney and Mariah.

      It’s natural for a show that honors so many musical genres to spread out the awards. No one lost that night. Gaga, Rihanna, Eminem all received Grammys, and so did Esperanza, Arcade Fire and Mumford and Sons…and they all deserved them. You had r&b, rock, rap, funk, country, pop and gospel all present that night…which was intended to unite music fans, not divide them.

  • Barbara

    The Grammy’s have always been what the music establishment consider the best, not popular. Isn’t this why Dick Clark created The American Music Awards-way back when??? There IS a difference. And I’m not a music exec.

  • Bobby’s Robot

    Most people who don’t think Arcade Fire or Esperanza Spalding deserved their awards probably haven’t heard of them or their albums. Anyone over the age of 14 who thinks Justin Bieber should have won Best New ARTIST has their own agenda or is not well-versed in current music.

    • gataroo

      Mumford and Sons should have won best new artist.

      • Bobby’s Robot

        I’m partial to Florence + the Machine, though I admit I haven’t heard Ms. Spalding’s record, so I can’t even say who *I* thought was better.

    • Kris

      Florence and the Machine should have won. End of story.

      • Bobblehead S.Hawkins

        No they shouldnt have and they didnt. end of story

      • True Blue

        Florence & The Machine are fine with or without a Grammy.

    • SG

      Florence and the Machine should have won. I love jazz, live in Portland, and have seen Esperanza play live. But it was her THIRD album. She shouldn’t have even been in the category.

      • Alan of Montreal

        I believe they changed the rules sometime ago to account for the fact that some great artists didn’t get noticed with their first couple of releases, so they loosened things up to allow those artists to be nominated once they were finally “discovered”. It should be re-labeled “Best emerging artist”

      • Ambivalentman

        I agree that the rules for this category are strange. We were told that Bruno Mars and Nikki Minaj were not considered because of their guest spots on others’ albums, yet Spaulding was allowed to release 2 previous albums. I’m sure there are nuances to the rules that I don’t understand, but it does seem like a double-standard.

    • hc

      The thing is Arcade Fire played and sold out Madison Square Garden. If you’re actually a music fan, which SHOULD be the Grammy’s base, then you know them – easy. And the New Yorker did a pretty lengthy profile on Esperanza Spalding so…educate yourselves.

      • Claire

        Thank you! If one had the inclination to perhaps go outside of their tastes they would know these artists. If you are a fan of different type of musical genres you would know these bands. Plus, google is your friend.

  • sally

    If you went by the logic of Steve Stoute who thinks because Justin Bieber has a huge tween fanbase he should have won best new artist then in all categories of the grammys whoever sold the most records and had the biggest fanbases should win. He dosen’t seem to realize thats what separates the Grammy’s from the VMA’s and AMA’s. Fans vote for the winners there. Arcade Fire deserved to win as did Esmeralda Spalding.

    • Shaolin Shadowboxer

      It’s Esperanza, not Esmeralda

    • SG

      How is Esperanza Spalding a ‘new’ artist?

  • Nathan

    This was the first year I can remember that a deserving album won Album of the Year, maybe Grammy is starting to finally figure it out a little.

  • bigray

    ARCADE FIRE LMAO. RECOVERY SHOULD HAVE TOOK.
    SPACE BOUND > ARCADE FIRES CAREER!

    • Nathan

      Recovery was neutered Eminem and in no way deserved to even be nominated much less win the big Grammy. He got his rap album award though (also undeserved, as the Blueprint 3 was the better album there too.)

    • matt

      recovery was awful pop music. Eminem is at his best when he is at his darkest and dirtiest.

    • MT

      Seriously, now? Who in their right mind thought Eminem should have won AOTY? Believe me, I need to know. Because I was not AT ALL impressed by “Recovery”. “I”m not afraid”, “Love the way you lie”, “I need a doctor”, those songs are depressing and the melodies are just above average to say the most.
      We’ve heard “Stan” or “Lose Yourself”, Eminem can do wayyyy better than this me-myself-and-I-are-alone stuff.
      And could he try to smile? At the end of the day, it’s just music.

      • True Blue

        And why would one NOT be on their right mind to think that Eminem deserved to win? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Arcade Fire won, they totally deserved it and I predicted that it would be either them or Eminem. But personally, I would have preferred that Em won. Does having an opinion that you don’t agree with make me crazy?

  • bigray

    U guys know Grammys r set up. Oh and em can shove an Oscar up there ass.!

    • Shaolin Shadowboxer

      Idiot.

    • Bobblehead S.Hawkins

      how are they set-up? can you explain or just give an ignorant opinion, JUST because your OVERHYPED EM lost like he should have

  • Cat

    The album may have had low sales because you can’t find it anywhere! I was trying to avoid CC charges with Amazon, so I looked in Target, Best Buy, etc, and none of them had it. I ended up downloading it and yes, it is quite a good album. But I ask this–how come the Academy was so enlightened this year with this choice and not in 2009 when Viva La Vida lost for Album of the Year?

    • Heidi

      THANK YOU Cat for actually listening to the album before casing judgement. And yes I loved Viva La Vida too, though I would say ArcadeFire’s every song is equally worth the listen, and don’t think thats true of Coldplay. Just my personal opinion. Coldplay remains my favorite band, though!

      • Cat

        Since I am a huge Coldplay fan, I will say, Heidi, that you have excellent taste in music!

    • Dave

      What did Viva La Vida lose to?

      • Cat

        Robert Plant’s album with some country woman, can’t remember her name.

      • Dave

        Oh okay. That was the year I was rooting for Radiohead’s In Rainbows. And Viva La Vida was a close 2nd for me.

      • ks

        @cat-think he won because of a sympathy vote? HA I say good for Arcade Fire and it was a shame that Viva La Vida did not win.

      • Alan of Montreal

        It was Alison Krauss. That was actually a good album, too–one of the most critically acclaimed of that year. And I tend to lean more towards alt.rock like Coldplay and Radiohead, too. I’m not unhappy that Robert Plant and Alison Krauss won, though I think Radiohead would have gotten my vote

    • Melissa

      I saw The Suburbs at a Radio Shack.

      Possibly the stores you looked at are out because it just won? Just a thought. I’d keep looking. It’s worth it. Or, buy Funeral or Neon Bible. They are excellent albums, as well.

      • Melissa

        Sorry. I should have read your comment better. Glad you enjoyed the The Suburbs! I do still recommend buying the other two. They are worth it.

      • Cat

        No, this was months ago that I was searching for it.

      • Bryon

        It depends on your competition. Robert Plant made a great album with that woman, Allsion I believe.

        BTW, funny you mention Coldplay. The lead singer (Chris Martin) a couple years ago called Arcade Fire the best band in history. Here’s the video link.

      • Eolra

        I thought Radio Shack doesn’t exist anymore – didn’t they change it to something more “current” like “The Shack” or something? Not that it really matters- I just got confused by your comment because the far back recesses of my brain seem to remember RS being obliterated. Am I crazy?

  • Mike

    The fact that Stoute forgot that the best selling album of 2009 ended up winning Album of the Year last year shows that he was just upset that his favorite artists didn’t win, and had nothing to do with the Grammys not recognizing commercially successful artists.
    Santana, Lauryn Hill and Norah Jones have all won Album of the Year, and their albums have sold more than 10 million units around the world. He also forgot that Beyonce, the most commercial and overrated contemporary pop artist in the world won six Grammys last year. This is one of the few years that the show decides to honor more indie, undrrated artists and everybody gets freaked out.

    • Dave

      Very true, Mike.

    • u

      More overrated than GaGa?

    • F*ck Steve Stoute

      That is all.

    • fiveagainstone

      Either that or Stoute hasn’t listened to new music since 1999.

  • Me

    Awards are all in the eye of the beholder. person X thinks Recovery was the best, person y thinks The Suburbs was the best. Its all relative. Personally, I think the best of the year wasn’t even nominated for the top prize. The Black Keys Brothers.

    • AC

      I agree, Brothers was a great album. The Gorillaz “Plastic Beach” deserved a nod too.

      • Jesse

        The Black keys are good, but I’, sick of love song albums. It gets redundant. And their songs are too simplistic. Arcade fire is a very complex band, with complex writing. Win Butler is a brilliant song writer.

    • matt

      Great album, The National’s album was good too

      • Jenny

        Yes, I loved High Violet & was bummed it didn’t get a nod in the alternative category.

      • Aaron

        High Violet was good, however, the Suburbs just has more range… Per say. I do love the fact the National is opening for the Arcade Fire.. Which mean I get to see them twice in a year.

  • bigray

    LETS SEE IN 10 YEARS FROM NOW WHERE ARCADE FIRE IS. 10 YEARS AGO EM LOST THE SAME AWARD TO STEALY DAN AND EMS STILL HERE IN ANOTHER 10 YEARS ONLY EM WILL BE REMEMBERED! ARCADE FIRE SHOUKD NOT HAVE WON THAT AWARD!

    • heather

      People WILL be listening to Eminem in ten years, but they will NOT be listening to Recovery start to finish.

      The Suburbs will be remembered as a full great ALBUM decades from now.

      • bigray

        OK all 7 of u guys win arcade fire is the best. Lmao. Another 10 000 000 000 people disagree with u guys and say Recovery should have won. I should send them this link so they can lol at u guys.

      • Alan of Montreal

        oh for Pete’s sake, stop sounding like a moron. They’re both completely different genres. In 10 years, you’ll be listening to your precious Eminem and Arcade Fire fans will still be listening to The Arcade Fire. Just crawl back into your illiterate hole and deal with it. (And for the record, The Arcade Fired also debuted at number one on Billboard the week it came out)

    • kaydevo

      Your all caps anger is embarrassing. For you.

      • bigray

        Sorry buddy for the caps I’m on a cell.

    • Rank

      Well, Seven years ago, they made an album that Rolling Stone has now ranked the #6 album of the DECADE. They also received a grammy nomination that year. So, seven years later, they sell out the Madison Square Garden and win a grammy. I’m pretty sure ten years from now, they’ll be just fine.

      • bigray

        Fyi eminem is the artist of the decade!

    • matt

      Em is great, but Recovery sucked and everyone knows that he sold out

    • ks

      Steely Dan are you serious? That puts Steely Dabn at over 20 yrs of being a band hmmmmm get out much?
      EM is just another punk guy like so many before that in ten years you will hear a song and maybe remm=ember who sang it-but it is all preference to what you like.

    • Bobblehead S.Hawkins

      where do you get your moronic stats, smart guy?

    • Joey

      where do you get your moronic stats, smart guy?

      quit whining like the little girl you are and listen to that overhyped recovery cd

      • Jan

        Please don’t insult little girls.

  • kaydevo

    Apparently Stoute thinks sales should equal “best” but they sre not the same thing. I personally was thrilled that Arcade Fire won. Stoute thinks they knew they had won before the announcement. He must not have seen them backstage, clearly bowled over and breathlessly shocked when their name was called. I’m often dismayed at who wins these awards, but Stoute is so over the top because his guys didn’t win, he reminds me of a crying baby.

    • Jenny

      Yeah, the band must be very good actors if they knew ahead of time!

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