Bon Iver: 5 Things You Didn't Know About the Grammys' Best New Artist
Who is he?
When Justin Vernon, the lead singer of folk band Bon Iver, won the Grammy award last night for Best New Artist, many music lovers were left wondering how the statue could not have gone to music's ubiquitous "It" girl Nicki Minaj, or even the underdog with the unwavering fanbase J. Cole. What was even more disappointing was Vernon's seemingly ungracious and unappreciative acceptance speech.
While being admittedly awkward up on stage, the tall, bearded man took some jabs at the show, saying "It's really hard to accept this award. There's so much talent out there and on this stage. There's so much talent that's not here." He continued to thank "All the non-nominees who never will be here."
It should be noted that prior to airing, the band was asked to perform at the show and refused. Vernon explained, "We wanted to play our music, but were told that we couldn't play. We had to do a collaboration with someone else. And we just felt like...we're getting nominated for this record that we made...we were given accolades for it, and all of a sudden we were being asked to play music that had nothing to do with that. We kind of said 'f**k you' a little bit." We wonder who the collabo was with.
Thankfully, Vernon managed not to let any insulting obscenities fly (though for a second, it looked like it was bound to happen M.I.A.-style). Here are some things you don't know about Bon Iver:
You've already heard Bon Iver's music, likely without knowing. Kanye West heavily sampled their "Woods" song on his auto-tuned My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy track "Lost In The World" giving it an other-worldy vibe, and Jay-Z later cosigned the group, having lead singer Vernon help pen "That's My Bitch" on Watch The Throne's collaborative debut album. Listen again!
After things fell apart with both his girlfriend and first band DeYarmond Edison, and after being struck by a bout of mono, Vernon isolated himself in a log cabin built by his father in Wisconsin where he, like many mourners, watched hours of television, namely "Northern Exposure" DVDs. The 1990s fish-out-of-water show (a New York city doctor is transplanted in Alaska) inspired Vernon's new stage name, Bon Iver - a French greeting in the show that translates to "good winter." He then began recording debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago.
You may not know it from looking at him, but Vernon's tatted up. Just under his collarbone, his home state of Wisconsin is inked with the six counties he holds closest to his heart outlined. He reps the town of Eau Claire. Like most, he got it to reaffirm what was important to him. Way to stay grounded.
There's an entire Tumblr page intended to revealing the truth behind the star - Who Is Bon Iver? - but so far, it's had opposite effects, simply becoming a forum for people to bash the "man with the beard."
But What Does He Sound Like?
So, let's get down to business. Rolling Stone said For Emma was "woodsy soul folk, which harbored a ghost of Midwestern funk." In comparison, Washington Post detailed his self-titled second album - for which he also won the Grammy for Best Alternative Album last night - as “amorphous and triumphant — a haze of acoustic guitars, airy synthesizers and tumbling drums floating beneath Vernon’s hallucinogenic yowl." You can hear it in full here.
Watch "Holocene" below. The track was nominated for Song of the Year, and Record of The Year, but lost both to Adele's "Rolling In The Deep."