Tag Archives: arcade fire

Arcade Fire, the Grammys, America and Ignorance

Yesterday, the whole world was in shock after the Grammy jury made a bold and daring move by awarding the prestigious award of Album of the Year to underdogs Arcade Fire, for their album The Suburbs. With opponents like Eminem, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Lady Antebellum, no one imagined that an indie-rock band from Montreal could take down those pop/hip-hop juggernauts in a David-versus-Goliath scenario.

From my point of view, the Grammy’s jury achieved what the Hollywood foreign press (and most likely the Academy too) failed at doing, and that is recognizing talent and originality over financial stats and sales. They’ve opened the door to alternative music to get more exposure and more recognition, and it feels good to see something that is not labeled as pop win such an important award.

Of course, like any year, there is some disagreement from the public’s opinion about who wins and who doesn’t, but this is how contests work when they’re decided by a jury, and you’ll never receive unanimous positively-critical acclaim for a judged decision, but the “controversy” after the winners are announced is always a source of debate, which makes it even more interesting.

But yesterday, the American people (slight generalization here) proved once again that they’re a bunch of selfish, self-centered, ignorant people. After Arcade Fire’s win, the social media scene started being invaded by hateful comments about the band, along with the creation of a website called whoisarcadefire.com , with posts showing off Twitter posts that sounded like “Who the fuck is Arcade Fire ?” and “How the fuck can they win against my homeboy Em”. Allright, in 2008, I too was disappointed that Kanye’s Graduation lost to Herbie Hancock, and I expressed my disappointment via social media saying that “Mr. West should have won”, and I think that sharing your opinion is good. What is NOT good, is starting to hate on an extremely talented band because your musical knowledge is as vast as a hamster’s cage.

For those I’m aiming at, let’s start from the beginning. Is it possible that if you don’t know one of the 5 nominees that have a shot at winning Album of the Year, that your opinion on the subject could be categorized as “utterly useless” ? My guess would be, absolutely ! Now, if you’ve never heard about Arcade Fire (but know the lyrics to every Lady Gaga’s songs), chances are you don’t cruise around music websites a lot. Let’s point out a couple of stats here:

– Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs is currently the #3 seller in the iTunes Store in the USA.
The Suburbs has 5 number 1 titles on Billboard.com.
– Back in August, The Suburbs debuted as #1 seller in the USA, Canada, UK and Ireland.
– Arcade Fire made the cover of a small magazine that you may have heard of… it’s called TIME.

Oh and I almost forgot, The Suburbs is still in the Billboard Top 200, 7 months after its release, in front of a couple of under unknowns, like Kid Cudi, Taylor Swift and Avenged Sevenfold, but who cares, you probably have never heard of them either.

Now one thing the general public needs to understand too, is that the award goes to the best ALBUM, and not the album that contains the songs most played on Sirius satellite radio. I’ve listened to all the albums nominated yesterday, except for Lady Antebellum’s and I can say that anyone who says Gaga deserved the award is completely wrong. If anyone should’ve won instead of AF, it’s Katy Perry, that brought a new flavor to pop music with her album Teenage Dream (allright, Firework will be the exception). The Suburbs is a masterpiece in terms of harmony and connectivity between the 16 tracks it features. Listening to it from the start to the end is an experience, which The Fame Monster IS NOT !

People need to get their heads out of their asses and realize that there is more to music than Justin Beiber and Madonna’s doppelganger otherwise known as Lady Gaga. If your musical knowledge is limited to MTV’s Top 10, then it’s time for you to start listening to real music or stop posting hateful comments about a band that your retarded selfish person has never heard of, even less listened to. Many people that I will describe as more open-minded than others, RT’ed one of Kanye West’s tweet from last night, which went like this: “#Arcade fire!!!!!!!!!! There is hope!!! I feel like we all won when something like this happens! FUCKING AWESOME!”. If someone like Kanye, who usually has a pretty strong and open opinion about everything, dares to say something like that, maybe Arcade Fire’s win isn’t such a fiasco after all… but that’s for you guys to judge.

Congratulations to the Grammys for seeing past record sales, and finally, congratulations to the Arcade Fire for their win and one of the most genuine award-speech ever.

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Eminem for the Grammys

The Grammys recently put out a TV ad portraying the 2011 Grammy nominations leader, Eminem, with 10 of those. The result is a cool 30-second animated spot with vivid colors and various graphic elements related to Marshall Matters.

The Grammy will air on February 13th on CBS, where Em will face against The Arcade Fire, Landy Antebellum, and pop phenomenons Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber for the title of Album of the Year.

Top 5 everything of 2010

Once again, as hard as it is to believe, another year has almost already passed by and it seems like yesterday I was having dinner with the family at my uncle’s house for New Year’s day for this new decade. The more time passes by, the more it seems to fly away at the speed of light, and I’m again left wondering if this year will be the one where I’ll have time to do everything I’ve planned for the coming 365 days. Of course, it will not happen, but, before this year ends, I did manage to find some time to look back on 2010 and realize how good a year this has been. And, since the only things I’ve seen on social networks in the past days are Top 10s and Recaps, I decided I’d make my own Top 5. Ok, I’ve cheated on some categories, some are top 5 with honorable mentions, others may contain only 3 winners, but, you get the point.

This is of course my own personal opinion. No stats, no results, no expert analysis, just my own totally subjective, sometimes biased opinion. Let’s start it off.

BEST ALBUMS

1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I said it recently, and I stand with my first impression, this is the album of the year, and critics (aka Rolling Stone Magazine) seem to agree. The creativity, the originality and the “I don’t care what you think of me” attitude that emanates from this album make it impossible to ignore. Mr. West has taken his music one step further and created a sound of his own, and for that, you get my gold medal Kanye.

2. Eminem – Recovery
Wouldn’t it have been for Kanye, first place would have gone to Mr. Mathers. Recovery is the return of the king, the road to redemption fulfilled for Eminem. It is his most mature album yet, and I think I’ll dare to say it also is his best album. It may not contain as many classics as The Eminem Show or The Marshall Mathers LP, but the overall ride on which Eminem takes you with his latest album is definitely something no Em fan has ever witnessed before. A must for any fan of hip-hop.

3. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
The Montreal band proved to the world that they are a force to be reckoned with this album. Their sound is unique, the lyrics are profound, and the overall experience that you go through while listening to The Suburbs is definitely something special that not many bands can match. For me, this is an instant classic, something that my iTunes play-count can start to fear.

4. Jònsi – Go
The Sigur Ros vocalist/guitarist released a solo album back in April, and I did not listen to it until earlier this month. To be honest, I’ve lonely listened to it twice, so I don’t feel like I know this album too well, but I couldn’t leave it off this list. This is musical ecstasy. Whether they make you joyful or nostalgic, Jonsi’s exotic melodies are sure to spark a lot of emotions inside you. It is hard to describe, so the best thing I can say is, buy it and let yourself be immersed by the sound of it, you will not regret it.

5. B.o.B. – The Adventures of Bobby Ray
Probably the hardest position to fill, because the list of contenders was endless, but B.o.B. had to have his place in my 2010 year. I listened to this album countless times during my trip to Costa Rica, and it just has a special feel every time I listen to it. Even if this is his first LP, B.o.B. shows an incredible maturity as an artist, mixing super catchy commercial pop songs with more dramatic, serious tracks on which the lyrics are certain to make some hip-hop veterans jealous. The artists collaborations are original (Hayley Williams, Rivers Cuomo…) and it is just a good, easy to listen album. Plus, Airplanes has to be one of the greatest hip-hop songs released in the past 5 years, so for all that, I raise my hat to B.o.B. who fills in the last position of my top 5 for albums.

Honorable mentions
Bonobo – Black Sands
Misteur Valaire – Golden Bombay
Travie McCoy – Lazarus

BEST MOVIES
Important notice: I have been a total failure as a 2010 movie-watcher. I’ve watched countless “classics” on my To-See list, but I’ve just not been into the new movies this year. I haven’t seen Social Network, Black Swan, Toy Story 3… So, this is of course my own best of, where I’m sure some of the movies I’ve just named would have had their place had I seen them.

1. Inception
How can this not be the best movie of the year ? It is a cinematic masterpiece, incredibly intelligent, well shot and brilliantly acted. Christopher Nolan raised the bar to another level with a very original story, brought to life by shining performances from DiCaprio and company. An instant classic in every genre, a movie that will be talked about for years.

2. The Killer Inside Me
Western movies are more and more noticeable nowadays since they are becoming more of a rare thing, but this one really slipt under my radar. I watched it just a few weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it. Casey Affleck is incredible, to the point he should easily be nominated for an Oscar. The mood of the movie is scary, tense, and the story really sucks you in. It is brutal, violent, sometimes disturbing, but always intriguing. A must-see, at least only to witness Affleck’s brilliance.

3. The Book of Eli
This movie did not get very good reviews, as do all of Denzel Washington’s films for the last 5 years. But I think critics were a bit harsh and have failed to see the strong points that this movie has to offer. It is visually flawless, every image is sure to make you wow at your screen. It might not be Denzel’s best performance, but you can’t say so for Gary Oldman’s. He just shines in his role as the bad guy and shows he’s one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood nowadays. Plus, the fight scenes, and especially the gun-fights are masterfully directed and now have a place in my personal best combat scenes in cinema history. Plus the ending is just incredibly surprising.

4. Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski’s latest film has a sort of Woody Allen feel, with endless dialogues and a fairly old style of editing, which make it stand out. The intrigue is good and the always entertaining Ewan McGregor is very good in the leading role. Not your typical Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s really worth a watch.

5. The Town
I rented this movie 4 hours before writing this blog post, as it was, surprisingly, on most 2010 best-of lists. You should have seen my level of skepticism before watching this film. I’m really not a Ben Affleck fan, but I decided to give it a chance. Surprise of the year for me. This is a very entertaining thriller, in which Affleck shows talent as both director and actor. The acting award in the film will definitely go to Jeremy Renner though, who is so believable in his role that you could think the producers found a guy from the projects to play in their movie. You won’t fall in love with the other characters, but they show some kind of depth, enough to make you enjoy this film, along with its good heist scenes.

MUSIC VIDEOS

1. Jay-Z – On to the Next One
One might wonder why this is taking the pole position, and it is for only one reason: It’s a music video. Hurricane and Runaway are closer to short films than music vids. Jay-Z’s video, directed by Sam Brown, portrays a funeral through multiple black and white, highly aesthetic images. It was the first music video released in 2010, and in my opinion, it is still the best. It is a shame it didn’t win any awards at the VMA, but let’s be honest, the VMAs are pretty much meaningless. Jay-Z proved once again his immense artistic talent by releasing a video of this caliber, and the 41-year-old rapper also proved he’s here to stay.

2. Kanye West – Runaway (extended edition)
Here it is, the video that will be at the top position of everybody’s list in 2010, and it deserves it. While to me this is a short film, it redefined what music videos are. It is artistic, different, colorful. It delivers powerful messages, and it is accompanied by one of the best soundtracks ever. As I said in my previous blog post, this is sure to make history with the likes of Thriller.

3. 30 Seconds to Mars – Hurricane
Another video that should be considered a short film, Hurricane will probably have its place in history also. While less visually appealing than Runaway, Hurricane is controversial, sexually offending, twisted, and beautiful. A video that the American public is not ready to see at all (and it got banned for that), and because of that, Jared Leto’s band deserves a lot of recognition. They dared, and succeeded in creating commotion.

4. Eminem – Love the way you lie
Eminem’s real comeback in the music video scene, because Not Afraid was definitely not it. This is also a controversial video that caused a heart stroke to America, because of its reference to domestic violence and dysfunctional relationships. Joseph Kahn used his enormous experience to direct a video that suits the song like few videos have been able to. The cinematography is amazing, Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan are good in their main roles and the Eminem/Rihanna duo just fills the screen with presence and intensity. One of the best videos of the year on all aspects.

5. Linkin Park – The Catalyst
Joe Hahn has slowly made the transition from turntablist to director for Linkin Park, and this change shows how much talent the guy has. He was a great DJ (he still is in fact) and is now one of my favorite director in the music video domain. His creativity is unmatched, and everything he does just fits the Linkin Park style beautifully. The Catalyst is no exception. The imagery is innovative, the editing is on-point and the Linkin Park guys really give one hell of a performance. Great use of slow motion throughout.

Honorable mentions
Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Linkin Park – Waiting for the End
B.o.B. – Airplanes

TV SHOWS

1. Breaking Bad – Season 3
Discovery of the year for me, TV-wise. A fresh, original concept with actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul playing two of the most fascinating characters to ever appear on TV. Be warned, this, like many other series, is highly addictive. Sometimes humorous, sometimes dramatic, and seldom highly violent, this show will get you through the whole set of emotions, and will also kill your social life, second warning here !

2. Entourage – Season 7
The second-to-last season of the series aired this summer, and deceived no fan. Vince, E, Drama, Turtle, and especially Ari were back in full force, with new relationships, new insults and new adventures. The dialogues were once again a work of genius, and Vince’s breakdown was amazingly put together. The Cameos were entertaining and the complicity between the characters was once again something so entertaining to watch that every episode made you wish you had their lives. If you haven’t started to watch Entourage at all, I also envy your life, because you’re in for 7 seasons of never -before-seen laughter and entertainment. Start now !

3. Sportscentre – Morning Show on TSN
Probably the most unexpected winner of my entire top 2010 list, but I couldn’t pass by it. Jay Onrait and Dan O’toole are the best start of my day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. They redefine sports news with their incredible sense of humour and amazing charisma. They don’t take themselves seriously at all, they’re spontaneous and it gives a whole other perspective to everyday sports news.

Honorable mentions
Mad Men

BEST ADVERTISEMENTS

1. Dulux – Let’s color
Adam Berg takes the prize two years in a row for me, with his masterpiece Carousel for Philips last year. The whole concept of this Dulux ad is so good that it goes beyond the final TV spot. The fact they used local people and gave them the chance to put some color back into their dull scenery is amazing, and the fact that they were able to render this live process into such a beautiful advertisement is just brilliant. This is advertisement at another level.

2. Nike – Write the Future
The biggest sports event in the world of course means, the best advertisements in the world, and W+K knew that they havd to give it their best shot, and they didn’t fail. This ad pictures the World Cup vibe with such epicness and bigger than nature reactions that it clearly makes it the best ad of the tournament. The overall idea is so clever and the production value is unbelievable.

3. Sussex Safer Roads – Embrace Life
A beautiful alternative to encourage people to always wear their seat belts, Embrace Life succeeded in doing what all the gory, violent ads about car accidents couldn’t. The ad created an enormous buzz on the web, and probably saved more lives today than any other commercial. The concept is so well-thought and the imagery is spectacular.

4. Gaz Metro – A Natural Evolution
It takes great patience and dedication to tackle a project like this one, but it takes incredible talent and vision to make a project like this one look as good as this. This entire ad, conceptualized by Sid Lee, was done in stop-motion over 4 nights and with more than 1500 pieces of chalk. The animation is unbelievably fluid considering it’s stop motion and the visual is spectacular. Another considerable piece by one of the most creative agencies in the world.

5. LG – Something Lurkingg
One of the toughest spot on which to deliberate, the final slot of my entire top 2010 goes to the very recent LG ad, created by Y&R and the masters of animation, Psyop. Read a couple of posts prior to this one to know how amazed I was by this ad.

Honorable mentions
Adidas – Cantina 2010
Sony – Eye Candy
Audi – The Art of Progress
BBC – Honk If You’re Human
AT&T – Rethink Possible

This is it ! Probably the most time I’ve ever invested in a blogpost. I hope, even if you don’t agree 100% with me, that this will make you discover some gems in the media domain and give you things to entertain you during this one-to-two-week holiday that is coming up. This will most likely be my last blogpost of 2010, so in advance, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year !

Nova working with Festival d’Été de Québec !

Note: All artists photos belong to Cyberpresse.ca

Seriously, where to begin ? This year, Festival d’Été de Québec, which I will go ahead and say is now one of the biggest music festivals in the whole world, contacted Nova Film to produce a short video demonstrating the ambiance reigning in the city during the 10 days of shows. Let me start by saying that in terms of fun and wow-factor, this is hands-down the best contract we’ve worked on yet.

The people from the organization were very cooperative, giving us all-access passes and letting us do what we had in mind, as long as it didn’t interfere with the artists’ media restrictions. Right from the start, the objective was to produce to least footage possible, because in the end, this will be a 60-to-90 second video. Focusing on quality instead of quantity, we set up a list of various, original shots we could create for every show, every stage, and the city in general.

All shot with the office’s 7D and my T2i, we grabbed every lens available to us, and pretty much every piece of equipment we own and we went to work. Dollies, 80-foot cranes, sky-high rooftop shootings, steadycam, poles, timelapses, body-surfing shots, hand-held shots… there’s pretty much nothing we didn’t bring to our game for this project.


Dave and I when we were going up an 80-foot crane to film the 100 000 people attending Black Eyed Peas.

Not only did we produce amazing images, but we also had the best seats in the house for every show, and need I tell you that there were some amazing shows going on ! We were off for the first Friday, because the forecast predicted thunderstorms. So, I decided to go see Dream Theater and Iron Maiden under pouring rain. Dream Theater is band I wanted to see for so long, and they did not disappoint. They gave a solid performance and John Petrucci proved why he’s considered as one of the top guitarists in the world. Then the always entertaining Bruce Dickinson, who speaks good French, accompanied by the 5 other members of Iron Maiden, came on stage. Despite the fact that they left out a couple of classics, like Trooper, Aces High, Run To The Hills and The Clairvoyant, they delivered a solid performance and Dickinson had a unique connection with the crowd.


Bruce Dickinson singing like he’s still 35.

On Monday, it was time for some handheld shots in the crowd, and was there a crowd gathered to see Arcade Fire ! I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing that many people gathered for a band I believed to be underground. They gave one hell of a performance, way beyond anybody’s expectations. This was definitely one the shows I enjoyed the most during the Festival.


Arcade Fire

On Wednesday we went to do some steadycam shots at The Cat Empire, a band that, despite the fact they’ve been in Quebec a few times, I knew nothing about. Well, this is definitely my musical discovery at this year’s Festival. Rarely have I seen a band perform better on stage. They sounded great, they interacted with the crowd and they always pushed their songs a bit further to get the crowd into it.


The Cat Empire

Friday was definitely the night I anticipated the most, with K’naan opening for the Black Eyed Peas. K’naan gave a tremendous performance, and one of the highlights of the shooting was when we got up in the crane at sunset to film the crowd during Wavin’ Flag. This was really something special. Then the Black Eyed Peas got on stage, and media restrictions prohibited us from having video equipment on the site. So, we put our gear away and enjoyed a couple of songs. The crowd was going crazy for what is probably the biggest band on the planet right now. I would have went ahead and said that it was pretty much the biggest crowd I had ever seen in my entire life, but then there was Sunday…


The Black Eyed Peas, giving a show that will definitely be remembered in Quebec.

Sunday… what can I say ? The Festival decided that Rammstein would close the celebrations, and to be honest, I thought that was a bad decision. I thought Rammstein was an old metal band that nobody listened to anymore… Was I wrong ! Honestly, I had never witnessed anything like that. Die-hard metal fans came from around the world to see this show. There wasn’t a single inch left in all the plains of Abraham for someone to be there. The crowd must have been well over 100 000 people. We went on top of the Concorde, the highest view point for the plains of Abraham, to make a timelapse of the first 30 minutes of the show. Once again, this was definitely one of the most insane views I had ever seen. We saw the whole city to our left, with the ocean of red flashing pins that everyone wears during the festival to our right.


One frame of the 160-frame time-lapse we shot on top of the Concorde.

We then put our gear away and went to see the rest of the show. While I’m not a huge fan of their music, I must say that this show sounded probably better than any show I’ve been to. The sound was unbelievably clear. But what definitely made this show one of the best in this year’s Festival is the visual aspect, that included more fireworks than a 4th of July party. I can’t even start to describe how it was, but if you ever have the chance to see this band, you’ll understand !


Rammstein !

Finally, I’d like to congratulate everyone who worked at bringing such a memorable event to Quebec City, and I’m anxious to see what you have in store for us next year !