Thursday, February 17, 2011

Culture Shock 02.17.11: Angry Bieber fans strike back after Grammys

The Internet contracted an acute case of Tourette syndrome Sunday night as fans of Justin Bieber — more than 7 million of them, based on his number of Twitter followers, and mostly 12-year-olds, judging by their spelling and grammar — tweeted their outrage after their Canadian idol lost the best new artist Grammy award.

Not only did the world's most annoying pop star go home empty-handed, but his even-more-annoying fans — called, more annoying still, "Beliebers" — took it really, really hard. Best of all, Bieber lost to a relatively unknown jazz performer, Esperanza Spalding, whose self-titled CD was on my iPod long before the true Beliebers were shouting, "Who is Esperanza Spalding?"

Who is Esperanza Spalding? She's the woman who stopped the motor of Bieber's world. A talented vocalist, bassist and composer, she's the first jazz artist ever to win the best new artist Grammy.

So, an artist I like, who performs my favorite style of music, emerged to beat Bieber and become the walking nightmare for daydream Beliebers everywhere.

That's what I call schadenfreude.

Your word of the day: Schadenfreude, noun: from the German, meaning enjoyment obtained from the misfortunes of others.

And, man, the Bieber fans were troubled. Their rage-filled, all-caps tweets made news nationwide.

They tried to deface Spalding's Wikipedia page. And 24 hours after the Grammys ended, "Esperanza Spalding" was still a trending topic on Twitter as Bieber fans still pretended not to know who she was.

Grammy voters are often quick to snub a popular but overrated artist in favor of rewarding a performer with real talent. This year, bless their hearts, they did it twice.

For the third time, Eminem was up for album of the year. And for the third time, someone totally unexpected snatched it away from him. In 2001, it was old-timers Steely Dan. In 2003, it was newcomer Norah Jones. And this year it was the Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire.

Although lacking the passion of the Bieber brigades, the Twitter hacks were back at it, this time tweeting, "Arcade who???"

I realize musical audiences are more fragmented than ever. I'd never heard of Lady Antebellum until Sunday. But Arcade Fire isn't that obscure.

Yet even Twitter's semi-famous were perplexed.

"OK, Im not THAT old but whos Arcade Fire?" tweeted Tawny Kitaen, best known for appearing in music videos for the band Whitesnake in the 1980s and appearing on "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" a few years ago.

Tweeted Rosie O'Donnell: "album of the year? never heard of them ever."

Oh, if only I could say the same of you, Rosie.

Even A&E "reality" star Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman — apparently a closet Belieber, too — weighed in with his ignorance, which I imagine happens a lot.

This makes three times the Grammys have rewarded performers I love — especially Steely Dan — while denying Eminem. Each time, the rest of the world has run around screaming "Eminem was robbed!" This time, it was instantly, and ungrammatically, on Twitter.

Meanwhile, I just sit back and listen to the new Esperanza Spalding CD, "Chamber Music Society."

Now that's worth writing about.

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