How to piss off Justin Vernon

    Sometimes it seems like the Grammys are actively trying to be idiosyncratic. Every time I try to figure out why they’re doing what they’re doing, something else occurs that completely defies my theory. I mean, how do you explain the 2012 Grammys simultaneously snubbing Kanye for Album of the Year but nominating Bon Iver for Best New Artist? How can they be rewarding some good music but denying others? And how on earth can they be calling Bon Iver a new artist in 2012?

    Even when they do flash signs of brilliance, like this Bon Iver nomination, they often manage to bungle it. Somehow, they managed to piss off Bon Iver mastermind Justin Vernon to the point that he refused to perform. Vernon claims he wanted to perform, but Grammy brass mandated that he perform with another artist, à la last year’s Bob Dylan/Mumford and Sons team-up. Vernon isn’t a guy naturally opposed to musical collaboration (if that recent Jimmy Fallon performance is any indication), which leads me to believe that this proposed team performance must’ve been really awful. Vernon declined to name the artist whom the Grammys wanted him to play with, but here are a few ideas of possible collaborations that we think would’ve made him balk.

    Bon Iver and Cee Lo Green, “Perth”
    Try to imagine the horrified look on Vernon’s face when told that he could play a song from a new album, but only if the lead part was sung by Cee Lo in the black choir gown he wore during the Super Bowl halftime show, and it’s not hard to figure out why we won’t be having a Bon Iver performance at the 2012 Grammys.

    Bon Iver and J. Cole, “Calgary”
    Just because he guest-starred on Kanye’s album doesn’t mean Vernon is receptive to Kanye’s protégé and fellow Best New Artist nominee J. Cole adding a rap verse to his lead single.

    Bon Iver and Bruno Mars, “Grenade“
    I can only think of one thing that would piss Vernon off more than being asked to lend his beautiful voice to Bruno Mars’ nonsensical single, and that thing is…

    Bon Iver and Foo Fighters, “Skinny Love”
    Vernon described his proposed partners as “awesome people.” However, even if he spends an hour each day running on a treadmill to the sounds of “The Pretender,” that doesn’t mean he wants Dave Grohl’s spastic guitar playing sonically overpowering him while he’s trying to sing every hipster girl’s favorite song.

    And so we are left with a Bon Iver-less Grammys. For all we know, he might not even show up to collect his award. However, can you really blame him?


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