The 2011 Grammy Awards Honor Esperanza Spalding & Arcade Fire With 2 Of The Biggest Awards Of The Year

Who Dat?

The 53rd annual Grammy Awards were handed out here in Los Angeles, CA last night and, for the most part, many of the awards were handed out to the usual suspects. BUT, two of the night’s biggest awards were handed out to musicians unknown to the better part of the mainstream audience … which resulted in a lot of “Who?!” exclamations after their names were announced as winners. The 2011 Best New Artist award went to singer Esperanza Spalding (who beat out Florence + the Machine, Justin Bieber, and others) and the night’s biggest award — Album of the Year — went the Arcade Fire for their album The Suburbs (who beat out Eminem, Lady Gaga and more).


While I am not a huge fan of either act, I applaud the Grammy Voters for making these bold choices. Year after year we are inundated with the same winners putting out, essentially, the same music. I honestly had never heard of Esperanza Spalding before last night … but you can be sure I’m going to check her out now. Here is what Esperanza had to say about her big win last night:

“I feel really lucky that I got to be acknowledged on this stage in front of so many people who hopefully will get to experience my music, and I got there by doing what’s really dear to my heart.”

As for Arcade Fire, I like them but I don’t love them. What I do love is that this indie band who is really only popular among hipsters was awarded the biggest award of the night in a show of appreciation for their musical talent. As soon as the band collected their Grammy last night, this is what they posted on the Arcade Fire official Twitter profile:


I’ll post more photos and stuff from last night’s Grammy Awards … but I really wanted to highlight these 2 wins. To be honest, it’s very exciting to me when stuff like this happens. I actually learned something from the Grammy Awards … and now I have 2 new music artists that I need to take the time to get to know.

So what did you think of these wins last night? Were you upset? Are you planning to seek out the music of both Esperanza Spalding and Arcade Fire?

[Photo credit: Wireimage]

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  1. loriannakim

    I didnt know who Esperanza Spalding was but she looks MEGA COOL! so im gonna go check out her music now :D
    kinda gutted that eminem didnt win more but i dun think he minded lol!

  2. Kells

    SOOOOO excited about Arcade Fire winning!!! They’re amazing, and their album The Suburbs, MUST be listened to. It was gratifying to see the Grammy voters actually reward talent rather than following the crowd w/ what is popular right now.

    • @Kells — “It was gratifying to see the Grammy voters actually reward talent rather than following the crowd w/ what is popular right now.” Amen to that. Amen!!!

  3. Ama

    I am familiar with Esperanza. She’s an incredible jazz artist. I was actually surprised to see her nominated as a “New Artist” because she’s been known on the jazz scene for a few years now, but I think the definition of “Best New Artist” is for the work that makes you known on a mainstream/large scale. Nonetheless, Esperanza is incredible and I’m excited that more people will check her out now! Kudos to the Grammys!

  4. Georgia

    I thought i was going to cry when eminem didn’t win album of the year, when in fact it truly was. I’m sure arcade fire had a fantastic album but come on, it just didn’t seem right. oh and who the hell is esperanza spalding???

    • Hanzzler

      Georgia- Eminem did put out a good album, but maybe you should listen to Arcade Fire before you say that.

      After last year, I decided not to watch the Grammy Awards. Seeing Taylor Swift win the big award made the Grammys seem like a big joke. Now I wish I would have.

    • Eminem’s album had huge radio success which would lead everyone to believe he should win.

      Arcade fire is a group compromised of MUSICIANS. remember those? probs to the industry finally recognizing great music. And yes, Hanzzler, I agree that [everyone] should listen to their album before taking a stance and verbalizing their ‘opinion’.

    • krissy

      Danielle, the way you emphasized your comment makes it sound as if you don’t think Eminem is a MUSICIAN. If that is the correct interpretation, I strongly disagree.

    • @krissy — And I would agree with you. All rappers are musicians. No question.

    • my personal definition of a musician is someone who plays a musical instrument. other people have their own definitions.

      i was, however, in no way ragging on eminem. i was just simply implying that he has had mainstream success where arcade fire really haven’t. so, more people believe he should have won because he is more or less a household name. there is no actual talent taken into account. once again, not saying eminem has no talent… i’m just saying you have to compare the two overall. i do not believe a wrong decision was made.

    • @danielle — “my personal definition of a musician is someone who plays a musical instrument.” Just a question, not an attack (there’s far too much of that going on, I think) but do you consider singers who don’t play instruments musicians? What about lyricists?

    • krissy

      IMO, a voice can be an instrument.
      As for who should have won, I think that both Eminem and Arcade Fire have a lot of talent…and it would be impossible for me to chose which is “best”. There is so much apples and oranges comparison when it comes to music, you know? :) Thank goodness for the academy I am not a voter, right? At least Arcade Fire will get some needed exposure, and that is a very good thing.

    • @trent initially, my thought was to say no, they’re not the same. i love britney spears — to me, she is a singer/dancer/entertainer… i would never label her as a musician.

      @krissy i can understand the “voice as an instrument” thing. i guess it just depends on how you look at it.

      to each their own, i suppose.

    • @danielle — “initially, my thought was to say no, they’re not the same.” So Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Whitney Houston are not musicians? I so disagree. Music is such fluid art, I personally do not believe it is limited to just people who play instruments.

    • different strokes for different folks, i suppose.

      upon googling “musician definition” the first result yields “someone who plays a musical instrument (as a profession)”.

      (of course, there are other results with other definitions.)

      i would not consider Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Whitney Houston to be musicians — i consider them to be singers. this does not discredit their work… it’s simply a different title.

    • Kells

      and not all peeps who play a musical instrument are musicians!! I play the viola and boy howdy, you do NOT want to be around me when I do… teeheehee

    • krissy

      Very cute, Kells! ;)

  5. perdiz

    i think it was fun to for them to win. they both seemed soooo happy and truly excited by their win where as a lot of the bigger names usually act more entitled. :)

  6. jay

    Trent- i am not a “hipster” and I love arcade fire….I hope that’s ok w/ you. I have a lot of friends who are business professionals and don’t wear skinny jeans, vans, huge sunglasses, covered in tats, etc that love arcade fire.
    I don’t think you really know who arcade fire is!!!

    • @jay — It’s ok!!! As I said, they are primarily an indie-loved band … but their Grammy win is sure to make them more popular among mainstream music listeners.

    • exactly… they’re primarily an indie-loved band WHICH IS WHY so many people have their panties in a bunch.

    • Kyleigh

      Arcade Fire are HUGE here in Canada and overseas, so perhaps you should realize that as well, Trent! They may be small potatoes in the US, but that doesn’t mean much to the rest of us.

  7. Carrie

    My husband introduced me to arcade fire and their concert last summer was really amazing. They are all so talented but I never thought they’d win album of the year despite the amazingness of The Suburbs. Right before the award was announced, I uttered ‘there’s no way they’re going to win’. Imagine my surprise…

  8. Amanda

    I was so overjoyed for Arcade Fire, who are not only my favorite band, but are also honestly the nicest people ever. The Suburbs is such an AMAZING album, very deserved win.

    It’s also awesome that they’re Canadian. Very proud.

    Now to kill Gaga…

  9. I was happy they won!! It was nice to see a change. Most of the other nominees have won Grammys in the past. I can’t wait to check out this Esperanza chick out. She did seem really cool when she won. Also, I am totally loser for wishing Katy Perry won more. I really do love her songs.

  10. Chris

    for anyone newly interested in The Arcade Fire, you MUST check out their first two albums: Funeral & Neon Bible. You’ll definitely be missing out on some great music if you only stick to The Suburbs!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_aFmziaRdU

  11. J

    I first discovered Esperanza on a little show called “DAVID LETTERMAN” where she played her bass singing ‘Precious’.
    It was truly amazing!

    Been a fan since and she TOTALLY sung her ass off to a Prince tribute at the BET Awards last year. Her and Janelle, amazing!
    Pity Janelle couldn’t take out one award, her ArchAndroid album was definitely my favourite album of 2010.

    But I can proudly say I actually had heard of Esperanza before this win and definitely proud she beat Bieber!!! WOO HOO
    I wish she performed though – her and Janelle would have been great together.

    What do u think of Janelle Trent – I’m sure you’ve heard of her, a lot of REAL talent there!

    • @J — “Pity Janelle couldn’t take out one award, her ArchAndroid album was definitely my favourite album of 2010.” Yes, Janelle Monae is sooo amazing. I hope her day will come, she is so talented and exciting. Her song “Wonderland” is my jam :D

  12. cutitout

    @ Trent

    Esperanza Spalding was the girl who sang “If I was your Girlfriend” @ the BET Awards Prince Tribute and she joined prince on his series of NY concerts

    p.s. Did you notice Lady Gaga trying to throw subtle shade At Madonna with her “I was thinking of Whitney Houston when I wrote Born This Way” when she won? RIIIIGGGGHHHHTTTT…..

    • @cutitout — “Esperanza Spalding was the girl who sang “If I was your Girlfriend” @ the BET Awards Prince Tribute” Oh right!! She was fantastic in that performance. I am so happy she won, so damn cool ;D

  13. I hate how we need a bunch of out of touch old men to tell us what we should listen to. You should listen to someone because you like their music, not because they won an award.

    • @sparklecow — Winning an award doesn’t “tell” anyone to listen. Winning elevates a band’s exposure so A.) more people know they exist and B.) may seek out their music.

  14. Claire

    I would have loved to see Mumford & Sons pull out a win last night.

  15. your mom

    I was estatic to see Arcade Fire win last night. I listen to all genres of music, from country to jazz. I have been saying for months that “The Suburbs” was the best album of 2010. It was so great to see them recognized. If fact, I’m going to go listen to that album right now!

  16. Carli

    I was literally shocked and so excited when Arcade Fire won. Truly an amazing band. Their documentary of Neon Bible is phenomenal. And their album Funeral should not be missed! For the first time in a long, long time I was extremely happy after watching a music awards show!

  17. Dach

    I’m so happy Esperanza Spalding won. She is very talented and it is unfortuante alot of artist out here in all genres aren’t heard more. The radios and tv shows like to air and play what they see as more “popular” music. I came across her 3 years ago and love her voice. I use another person like Ledisi as an example. Noone knew of until recently. I’ve been a fan for over 6 years. I feel more radio stations need to start introducing their listeners to newer sounds and stop sticking to the norm so when we see artist winning awards it will not be such a shock to some….

    • krissy

      Our radio system is really what limits the American music scene, IMO. Radio stations are VERY narrow in their definitions of what fits their format (Adult Contemporary, pop, rock, R&B, etc). If you look to places like Canada that don’t have such strict standards, they can play artists who might mix genres. Our radio will NOT play music that mixes genres. There is a lot we don’t hear, simply because it doesn’t fit into a neat little cubbyhole.

  18. anyone catch the bieber fans on twitter last night? they are crazy. omg i think they were more upset then he was… CRAZY!!

  19. Megan

    Disappointed for Florence and the Machine but glad to see some different winners!

  20. Leigh

    I love Arcade Fire so much, they are pretty big among Canadians, many non hipster ones too lol. They might lose the hipsters now that they’re in the spotlight but deserve the recognition they’re going to get.

  21. Lynne

    To simply put it, I love it when the underdogs win! So refreshing! :D

  22. Sara

    I am SO happy for both of them, I absolutely loved the shock on Bieber’s face when he DIDN’T WIN hahaha. Plus I just adore Arcade Fire; it was really nice to see people who are actually musicians win these awards. Even Lady Antebellum seemed just over the top happy, so sincere!

    • Ella

      Here here!Arcade Fire’s album is AMAZING! And I am on my way to itunes as many folks are I’m sure to check out Esperanza.

  23. Ailene

    I can’t believe no one knows who Arcade Fire is. I mean, David Bowie loved them from Funeral and even sang with them. Funeral was at least 4 years old. Suburbs deserved the Album of the Year award IMHO.

  24. krissy

    I thought it was a great show overall. Most of the performers seemed really good at their genre, and they showcased all different types of music. Personally, I could have done without the Katy Perry and Barbra Streisand, but that is just me. ;)

  25. Amanda

    I am so happy that Arcade Fire won ladt night! They are an amazing band.I saw them in Toronto when they first hit the music scene…they were amazing live. I love that fact that they are different. The amount of different instruments they can play is amazing! You have to listen to there new cd. I do enjoy there first cd better but its still an amazing Cd

  26. Ara

    After I heard the song Wake Up from Arcade Fire I was a fan. So glad they won last night believe me I was totally shocked and loved the band’s reaction.

  27. David

    Did anybody really think Justin Bieber was going to win a grammy? This is not the teen choice awards

  28. J

    On another note, Esperanza reminds me of Imogen Heap. I mean Esperanza has been around actually for a few years now. Imogen was nominated after releasing her music for a few years aswell.

    She deserved her win, enough said. Justin didn’t – every thought because he was so successful he deserved it. No sales doesn’t mean your album, voice, talent and what not means you’re the best. You don’t need a million seller album to win a Grammy and you shouldn’t either.

    With that said, since Esperanza hadn’t been nominated in the past, from what I’m aware of, she was eligible for Best New Artist. Since Janelle Monae was nominated a year or so back for Best Music Video for New Moons, she wasn’t eligible for Best New Artist when her ArchAndroid was her debut LP on a record label. Same rule created an uproar for Gaga aswell, but thankgod for that hey!

    EITHER WAY – Janelle was amazing, everyone take a listen to ArchAndroid WITHOUT skipping a song. The whole album is one fluid song, its amazing.
    And congrats to Esperanza, you DESERVED it (Not Drake who yeah had a stellar year, still doesn’t fit or sound like a rapper, his voice, bleh)
    Coincidentally, both Janelle and Esperanza are friends and performed a tribute to Prince at the BET Awards which also everyone should check out because they’re one of the best performances from each respective artist, i mean MUSICIAN – I can say Musician cause they actually play instruments aswell. Haha..sigh

  29. Carol

    I may be one of the only people here who has heard of Esperanza before the Grammys last night, but that is only because I just so happened to be watching the BET awards last year when she paid tribute to Prince and boy did she blow me away! That night, I remembered thinking to myself, who is this chick? Where did she come from? She is incredible! I immediately went to youtube to look her up. I was pleasantly surprised to see her nominated and then win last night. She’s an incredible artist and I’m so happy that she got this huge exposure from last nights win.Hopefully more people will come to appreciate her stuff.

  30. This is so crazy that Esperanza Spalding won the Best New Artist! Well i never heard her before, but in-fact i just knew her now! Good for her, she won The Best New Artist, i bet she’s really happy! Keep it up Esperanza, did you know you got a lot of hates from the Beliebers!

    I love you Esperanza I’ve heard your songs, and your amazing!

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