The big winners in Sunday night’s Grammy Awards took many by surprise. Arcade Fire took home the record of the year for “The Suburbs” and the country group Lady Antebellum’s song “Need You Now” won awards for best record and best song of the year. The former is from Montreal, the latter hail from Nashville. The internet and social media exploded with a raft of incredulous messages – - a Tumblr called “Who is Arcade Fire?” compiled dozens of them. The Today show’s Matt Lauer blurted: “I’ve never heard of the Arcade Fire. I’m going to have to download them.”
Could these wins reflect something of a broader trend? Is the landscape of popular music changing? Could it be that new upstart music scenes in Nashville, Montreal, and elsewhere are gaining ground on New York and LA, the long-established hegemonic centers of commercial and recorded music?