Earlier this week Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme hurled some choice words on a gathering of Texans. "This next song is by Imagine Dragons. Just fucking kidding...You know, fuck everything, fuck the man, fuck Imagine Dragons, fuck the Grammys, fuck all this shit".
Fuuuuuuck. Okay. Mr. Homme, it would seem, is still bent out of shape about his prime time (dis)appearance on a show that exists to honor the likes of Taylor Swift, Ringo Star, Beyonce, Macklemore, and yes...Imagine Dragons. On stage with fellow middle-aged curmudgeon Trent Reznor, the duo (along with Lindsey Buckingham and Dave Grohl) were tasked to close down the awards show. The credits for the show, however, chopped off the end of said performance, like they do at the end of almost EVERY Grammys. Somehow these blessed, old punks seemed a wee bit surprised by this.
Nevertheless, the slight gave them the perfect bullet in the chamber to fire at the man, the industry, and the people they despise...despite not apparently being able to live without them. Reznor responded with insta-scorn, written in tweet-script. "Music's biggest night. . .to be disrespected. A heartfelt FUCK YOU guys" (we've documented his hypocrisy before
). Yet, these guys didn't really have to be there, did they? They didn't have to try and cozy up to a world that only vaguely celebrates their musical existence. Aren't they supposed to be smarter than this?
In both critical and personal circles, I've always been lead to believe that they are. Homme and Reznor, outspoken and artistic outsiders, grinding away at it year after year for the sake of a fan base who adores and idolizes them. Many timelines and Twitter feeds have been celebrating their simple, punk wisdom in the recent weeks since the Grammys...but how does this not look like a couple of sore losers, knocked off the podium with nothing more to say than "fuck this, this is stupid, I'm going home." It was cool that Homme didn't immediately engage in Reznor's vendetta against an easy target...until he did.
I had a similar reaction to Wisco-bro Justin Vernon's own contempt and indifference for The Grammys a couple years back. It started with a quip in The New York Times
following Arcade Fire's big win for The Suburbs
. "Everyone should go home, this is ridiculous," said Vernon, fantasizing about the perfect Grammy acceptance speech. "You should not be doing this. We should not be gathering in a big room and looking at each other and pretending that this is important." Yet there he was a year later, gathering in said big room after being nominated, (despite sharing how much he respected Nick Cave for declining a similar nomination from MTV in the same NYT
interview), eating his words upon winning with a glum speech in which he declared, "It's hard to accept this award." Later he would tell a fellow musician who was lamenting over his own lack of recognition that, "the grammies aren't a measure of much."
Yet, there. he. was.
Why? It's the same question I think when some dim-witted, mouthpiece of a politician starts yapping about state's rights, how Washington is broken, how we should just blow up the whole thing. Political trolls who get elected to serve a function which, apparently they think shouldn't exist? Every well-informed, liberal/progressive-leaning person I know recognizes such angst for the hand that feeds these bozos as bullshit...shallow, meaningless talking points for the masses so that they can obtain money, power, and public influence. Using a more superficial example, it's what happens every time in fucking high school when a pack of mean, popular girls take that nerdy artsy girl into their flock...everyone know it's going to end badly.
I can't help but think musicians like Homme, Reznor, and Vernon are walking a similar line; industry trolls who, in all three examples, don't exactly need the institutions they're trashing. Two years from now, nobody will be talking about artists like Imagine Dragons, so why raise such a stink? I suspect they're afraid to say they want
them though; for the national megaphone, for the chance to be seen, and most importantly, for the chance to posture. That want
is uncool though, that want
means you're a sellout, that want
hurts your cred, that want
means you're a mean girl, hence their simple, "fuck the man" ideology. Except, the thing about these guys is, they are the man...to which I say, "fuck the man".