Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #48 Arcade Fire
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#48 Arcade Fire
There is nothing “indie” about Arcade Fire. Not content with being a buried CD in your collection or just another entry in your iPod, the Montreal band wants to change your life. Their music is raucous, theatrical, cathartic, and highly emotional, with all of the subtlety of a religious revival. This type of reckless abandon has the potential to become grating with other, lesser acts, but Arcade Fire backs its lofty ambitions with fervent execution and exciting instrumental variation.
The band introduced its brand of world-weary romanticism in 2004 with Funeral, which arrived in an atmosphere polluted with bands trying really hard not to seem like they were trying really hard. Arcade Fire didn’t bother with that shit. They couldn’t - the title of the debut refers to the death of several of the band members’ relatives. Needless to say, the heart and soul that the band poured into Funeral dripped from every note and made clear that there was no room for contrived cleverness and posturing.
Most bands with strong debuts thank God if their sophomore effort manages to be not too disappointing. But after an album like Funeral? Arcade Fire achieved the impossible. Not only did the band avoid the sophomore slump with Neon Bible, they added to their already expansive musical vocabulary and crafted a singular vision at the same time. The songs had more muscle and were tougher, but the sweeping choruses and impassioned vocals let us know that the bruised hearts underneath were left intact.
People will be listening to Funeral twenty years from now. The band’s sincerity and reach-for-the-stars approach is so infectious and enveloping that it’s almost classic. It’s no coincidence that the band can count David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, and U2 as believers in their congregation. And like those acts, we will remember Arcade Fire because they strive to matter to us.
- Kevin Na
Check back tomorrow for the next artist! To see the full list of the Top 100 Artists of the Decade, click here.