Grammys 2012: Bon Iver thanks the 'talent that's not here'
The easygoing folk pop band Bon Iver was named best new artist, and the act's mastermind, Justin Vernon, used his time on the Grammy podium to thank "all the non-nominees who never will be here." While the likes of Kanye West have endorsed Bon Iver, the Midwestern act was competing against bigger names such as rapper Nicki Minaj and electronic sensation Skrillex.
Like Arcade Fire's album of the year win last year, Bon Iver's nomination and win is a victory for the independent community. The act's "Bon Iver" was released on small Bloomington, Ind.-based label Jagjaguwar. The Grammy Awards don't often go for lesser-known acts, at least in the major categories, but the democratization of the music business, largely because of the decline in sales due to Internet file-sharing, has independent artists rubbing shoulders with pop stars on the charts.
As Vernon noted tonight, it's sometimes placing independent acts on stages they never thought they would be on.
"It's really hard to accept this award," Vernon said. "There's so much talent out there and on this stage. There's so much talent that's not here."
The Grammy Awards, once only the province of major label acts, have largely been ignored or mocked by the independent community. As Vernon said of the award, "It's also hard to accept because when I started making songs I started for the inherent reward of making songs."
Vernon had earlier told Billboard that he declined to perform tonight, not wanting to appear as a sideshow with another artist. Most of the acts given the opportunity to appear on the Grammy stage are the expected names (Rihanna, Katy Perry, etc.).
Vernon was eventually cued off stage and made way for Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow. He introduced the memorial to fallen pop stars, and made way for Jennifer Hudson, who sang "I Will Always Love You," the Dolly Parton track that became Whitney Houston's signature song. It's not an easy song to sing, and Hudson doesn't deserve to have her performance compared to Houston's. Yet among today's young artists, few would be able to recall Houston without trying to hammer the song's sentiment in the listener's head. Hudson was able to.
— Todd Martens