By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
They need it. Because of the massive record-industry mergers of recent years, the music business has become even more obsessed with the bottom line. If nothing else, the Shortlist is a bit like a Christmas-gift crib sheet for those with broad tastes but no time to trawl magazine racks or the Internet for the next big thing, or even the next midsized thing. “I don’t know if I have any evidence to say this,” Spotts said, “but I will go to my grave believing that there is a percentage of the audience that wants something more flavorful and more individual and more personable than what they’re given.”
At the end of the night, Iceland’s Sigur Ros (U.S. record sales: 75,000) took the stage. Blending castratilike vocals in a made-up language, with layered guitar and keyboards that surfaced only to get swallowed up again, their music was both dramatic and without focal point.
“Shut up!” yelled one attendee.
“Shut the fuck up!” said a second.
“Keep it down back there,” said a third.
These were fans. The band was almost an inversion of Hendrix-style, I-fucked-God-and-learned-to-tell-the-tale type classic rock, but with all the invigorating characteristics of guitar rock intact.
“Ya’ll was right. I was wrong,” an impressed Amir “?uestlove” Thompson told singers/songwriters/married couple Aimee Mann and Michael Penn, up in the balcony. Thompson, drummer for the hip-hop group The Roots, was alluding to a heated last-minute debate among the judges as to whether they should split the prize with Sigur Ros and rapper Talib Kweli. Sigur Ros’s Agaetis Byrjun (translation “A Nice Beginning”) was the sole winner. “We’re not very good at speeches,” said bassist Georg Holm. “I guess we will say the two very important words — thank you.” The assembly of underground hip-hoppers, clever white folks and Icelandic aliens all in one room gave the night a feeling of a “We Are the World” super-session programmed by KCRW DJ Nic Harcourt, himself a certified Shortlist tastemaker.
It’s a good idea. When is the last time the mainstream awarded a band attention for being quiet?
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