Grammys 2012: Bon Iver Wins Best New Artist, Feels Conflicted About It
"It's really hard to accept this award," he began his slightly awkward acceptance speech. "There's so much talent out here... and there's a lot of talent that's not here tonight. It's also hard to accept because you know, when I started to make songs I did it for the inherent reward of making songs, so I'm a little bit uncomfortable up here."
His words should come as no surprise to people who knew Bon Iver before they won the awards for both "Best New Artist" and "Best Alternative Album" (for those who haven't heard of 'Bonny Bear', no worries: a 'Who is Bon Iver?' Tumblr already exists). In an interview with the New York Times back in December, Vernon expressed his feelings about the Grammys even more forcefully than he did on stage.
"I don't think the Bon Iver record is the kind of record that would get nominated for a Grammy," he said then. "I kinda felt like going up there and being like: 'Everyone should go home, this is ridiculous. You should not be doing this. We should not be gathering in a big room and looking at each other and pretending that this is important.' That's what I would say."
It's not just the Grammys that offend him, though, but the entire arena of music awards shows. In a blog post last August, Vernon bashed the VMAs even more passionately.
"Why do we NEED this shit so bad? Why don't we just have MUSIC? DO music? soul? I don't know," he wrote, criticizing MTV for being about "the dollars."
He echoed that sentiment in the New York Times interview, where he came down on Grammys nominees by saying "98 percent of the people in that room, their art is compromised," as well as in his acceptance speech, when he thanked "all the non-nominees who've never been here and never will be here," alongside his friends, family, and the voters.
If you're wondering why Bon Iver didn't perform last night, just blame the band's integrity. The reason, again, goes back to the band's refusal to deal with an organization that would try to dictate their musical behavior. The band was asked to play with other acts that had "nothing to do with" their music," according to Billboard.
"We kind of said 'fuck you' a little bit and they sort of acted like they wanted us to play, but I don't think they wanted us to play," Vernon said. "Fuckin' rock 'n' roll should not be decided by people that have that job. Rock 'n' roll should be the fucking people with guitars around their backs."
Despite their skepticism, however, Bon Iver still managed to beat out United States, the Band Perry, J. Cole, Skrillex and Nicki Minaj for the Best New Artist prize.
Watch Vernon's acceptance speech below: