Godspeed You! Black Emperor Awarded Polaris Music Prize, Don’t Really Want It


The reverentially lauded Godspeed You! Black Emperor surprised and delighted fans, critics, and music lovers in general by quietly releasing Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! in October of last year. There was suddenly a new album there on the merch table at a Boston show, like it hadn’t been ten long years since Yanqui U.X.O. had been released. No big deal.

This fantastic four-track, 53-minute album immediately received gobs of critical praise, topped off almost a year later when the Polaris Jury awarded the band with Canada’s top prize in music for 2013. Among the nine other short-listed albums were such similarly notable and acclaimed albums as Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob, Metric’s Synthetica, Metz’ Metz, Purity Ring’s Shrines, and Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light.

Past winner’s include Feist (Metals, 2012), Arcade Fire (The Suburbs, 2011), and Fucked Up (The Chemistry of Common Life, 2009). According to Pitchfork, Constellation Record’s Ian Ilavsky accepted the award for the band and revealed that  “the band will use their $30,000 to fund music education and musical instruments in Quebec prisons.”

As for the band, while they are flattered, kind of, they are not amused.


hello kanada.
hello kanadian music-writers.

thanks for the nomination thanks for the prize- it feels nice to be acknowledged by the Troubled Motherland when we so often feel orphaned here. and much respect for all y’all who write about local bands, who blow that horn loudly- because that trumpeting is crucial and necessary and important.

and much respect to the freelancers especially, because freelancing is a hard fucking gig, and almost all of us are freelancers now, right? falling and scrambling and hustling through these difficult times?

so yes, we are grateful, and yes we are humble and we are shy to complain when we’ve been acknowledged thusly- BUT HOLY SHIT AND HOLY COW- we’ve been plowing our field on the margins of weird culture for almost 20 years now, and “this scene is pretty cool but what it really fucking needs is an awards show” is not a thought that’s ever crossed our minds.

3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe=

-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.

-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.

-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS FUCKING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.

these are hard times for everybody. and musicians’ blues are pretty low on the list of things in need of urgent correction BUT AND BUT if the point of this prize and party is acknowledging music-labor performed in the name of something other than quick money, well then maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords. and maybe a party thusly is long overdue- it would be truly nice to enjoy that hang, somewhere sometime where the point wasn’t just lazy money patting itself on the back.

give the money to the kids let ‘em put on their own goddamn parties, give the money to the olds and let them try to write opuses in spite of, but let the muchmusic videostars fight it out in the inconsequential middle, without gov’t. culture-money in their pockets.

us we’re gonna use the money to try to set up a program so that prisoners in quebec have musical instruments if they need them…

amen and amen.

apologies for being such bores,
we love you so much / our country is fucked,
godspeed you! black emperor

Tyler Hanan

Tyler raves about movies on the Let The Right Films In podcast. Listen to him make jokes over his beleaguered cohost Kayla St. Onge and their more qualified guests who deserve so much better at soundcloud.com/ltrfipod. Find him on Twitter @tylerhanan.
Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.