Firstly, you have to go to the tumblr site accumulating the Twitter-Rage over Arcade Fire winning whatever Grammy they won.
Secondly, who over the age of 15, thinks the Grammies have any particular value? I can remember my moment of "oh, ha ha, seriously? I give up" when it came to the Grammies, and it came in the form of Sheryl Crow winning album of the year* back around 1994 or 1995.
I don't know if Arcade Fire had the album of the year. I certainly didn't listen to all of them. Or even some of them. The complaint was that nobody had heard of Arcade Fire.
Full disclosure: I've only seen Lady Antebellum's name in print, so I can sort of understand how you can have a question mark over your head when someone you don't know is nominated. But of three of the top nods, Gaga, Perry and Eminem are better known for their personal lives and antics than their actual music (sorry, Marshall), and its arguable that Gaga and Perry's albums are forgettable pop, secondary to the merchandising and performance aspect of the music industry (and I am not bagging on Perry or Gaga for being very good at what they do, but when you don't include the visual, Gaga's music is pretty standard issue disco stuff and Perry sounds like any pick-of-the-week female pop artist of the past 20 years).
If you give a damn about music, at some point I can see getting tired of throwing in votes for boring records because its "good for the industry". It isn't.
But, if the public hasn't heard of Arcade Fire, its kind of refreshing to see that's the case. It likely means two things.
1) The mix of Arcade Fire's refusal to do ad spots, perform on Nickelodeon awards shows, stay out of jail, etc... has meant that they lack celebrity, which has nothing to do with quality of an album
2) The music industry is amazingly and hopelessly splintered. That isn't alarming, that's more or less always the state of the industry. I don't expect for people to have ever heard of the bands I listen to if they don't actively seek out music (ie: they wait and see what gets dropped in their laps). A lot of people do seek out music, but as enough people do not, clever marketing has a significant effect.
Is it good for the Grammy to go to a more-Pitchfork friendly album than, say, Taylor Swift? I doubt it helps the TV ratings much and most certainly will turn off mainstream radio listeners, but maybe its good. American rock has been about turning to something new and different, and while Arcade Fire are establishment favorites by alt-rock standards, its a kick in the pants of another auto-tuned Lady Gaga performance with a disco beat or Eminem (who is good) winning for doing what he's been doing since I was an undergrad.
I'm always amazed by the narrow view of the listening public, but its something I got over very quickly working behind the counter of a mall record shop. People come to music for different reasons, and none of them are bad reasons, even if it means that you wind up making regrettable purchases. But most people generally believe that what they and their friends listen to is what everybody listens to, and that, of course, is kind of dumb.
Its wrong-headed to think that Perry or Gaga fans will be inspired to check out Arcade Fire (a band that supports concert hall shows, for those who say they've never heard of them). But you can sit back and enjoy the confusion and remember what it was like to be sixteen and see your folks get bunged up when a band you liked made it onto TV.
It would have been far more hilarious had someone the likes of Dan Deacon won album of the year. That would have been TV gold.
*I would apologize to Sheryl Crow fans, but somebody has to tell you. Yes, my taste in music better than your own.**
***well, maybe. I mean, Sheryl Crow? Put down the Dave Matthews and back slowly away.