Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Continued Commentary on the Polaris Process: The Winner
Not really sure what to make of the Polaris Jury's pick, the Toronto "hardcore/punk" band Fucked Up and their album The Chemistry of Common Life. It probably goes without saying that I'm not really a fan, nor do I think that they deserved to win, and they give me a headache, but I'm not bitter...
I guess there are really two things that grind my gears about giving the prize to Fucked Up. Mostly, its the cursing, oh god the cursing!
But seriously. First, and contrary to what some have speculated I don't think this vote was necessarily a --no pun intended-- fuck you to the Conservatives, Stephen Harper, and any sort of arts funding cut backs (although that may have been an added bonus). I see this vote as more of a, oh shit, look at the relatively similar/safe albums that ended up on the short list, we need to really surprise people by picking an album that they're not expecting. And, if that was in fact the conscious or unconscious thought process, you're really left with three albums that don't fall into the white-english-males-with-guitars category (I'm excluding Metric): Malajube, K'Naan, and Fucked Up (I understand they play shouting machines or something). Malajube's album just wasn't that good, K'Naan's was too over produced had too many high profile guest appearances/producers to be artistic enough, and Fucked Up was about as different from the other albums/past winners as you could get. Basically, I see Fucked Up's win as being more about the jury and the Prize making a statement rather than the artists' "creative artistic acheivement in recorded music".
The second thing that cheeses me off is that a certain basement dwelling Albertan recorded an album that is, in my estimation, something just short of genius, which, for a singer-songwriter album, is incredibly impressive. Yes, CVG's Soft Airplane was far less esoteric than either of his previous albums, but its not like he's gone into John Grisham mode churning out albums based on some Sub-Pop developed formula. He fits the Polaris criteria.
Not only do I think he fits the Polaris criteria, I think he (and, to a lesser extent Patrick Watson circa 2 years ago) embody what the Polaris should be about. It should be about artists that push boundaries, but who can also create music that the public at large can appreciate and should be paying attention to. It is not a chance to stick it to Joe the Plummer and show him how much different your award is in comparison to the crap award shows he keeps watching that keep giving prizes to Celine Dion (who apparently is not dead yet) and Nickelback (still alive also).
Obviously the selection process is a little more complicated and nuanced than I'm making it out to be, and I really don't mean to bag on Fucked Up, maybe I'm just a little cranky about not being on the jury... but don't you think if the CVG had won over Fucked Up we wouldn't have to stick it to the Conservative art haters so much? Just a thought...
[mp3] Chad VanGaalen - City of Electric Light (Live on CBC Radio 2)
[mp3] Chad VanGaalen - Rabid Bits of Time (Live on CBC Radio 2)