Five artists cashing in on Bon Iver's popularity
When Bon Iver took home the Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album in 2012, you knew that it would only be a matter of time before other acts and musicians started capitalizing on the current trend and borrowing heavily from Justin Vernon's downcast, alone-in-the-woods sound.
Photo by Stacy Schwartz
Here are five artists who have taken advantage of the attention showed towards Bon Iver's distinctive sound -- ranging from creative fans to outright imitators.
'Ye seemed to be a bit ahead of the trend on this one - enlisting Justin Vernon's help on backing vocals for a couple tracks from his 2010 masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Compared to Maroon 5's Adam Levine, John Mayer, and Coldplay's Chris Martin in the past, this configuration proves far more satisfying. You still got the sense that he was tapping into an artist that would not only push his own music forward, but would add some instant depth and breadth to his sound. Vernon's ghostly vocals are featured on "Monster" and far more prominently on "Lost in the World," which gives the end of the album a mournful coda.
Vernon was again featured prominently on Kanye's abrasive and self-assured Yeezus, including the peculiar ode to tolerence, "Hold My Liquor." Who knows if Kanye will eventually return the favor by making a guest appearance on one of Vernon's future albums. Since the results worked so well the first couple of times out, it wouldn't be surprising if they collaborated again.
The Icelandic musician Ásgeir has borrowed freely from Bon Iver's melodic folk sound and falsetto stylings, just giving it a bit of a European twist. While he is just starting to make a name for himself here in the States by recording and releasing some English language crossover hits, his 2012 debut album garnered him wide acclaim in his homeland, reaching triple platinum status in Iceland. He won Album of the Year and Best Newcomer at the '12 Icelandic Music Awards, and was also recognized by the Nordic Music Prize, receiving a nomination for the Best Nordic Album of the Year. His textured, mournful sound certainly echoes Bon Iver's familiar tones, with some of the adventurous sonic experimentalism of his countrymen, Sigur Rós, blended in as well. "King and Cross" (above) summons some immediate artistic parallels. I'm sure we'll hear more from Ásgeir as his music makes his way across the Atlantic, and you can judge for yourself just how similar to Bon Iver he truly is.
Chris Martin was the King of Mope lone before Justin Vernon came around, but the London quartet has been drifting closer and closer to a Bon Iver-esque sound in recent years. Their recent single, "Midnight," only sealed the comparison, with Martin's highly processed, falsetto vocals sounding eerily reminiscent of Vernon's desolate croon. The rustic, wooded setting for the video only taps deeper into the Bon Iver aesthetic, with Martin's nature-filled stroll on reinforcing the connection to Vernon's earthly inspirations. Add to that, Coldplay's title song with Cat Power for Zach Braff's follow up to Garden State, I Wish I Was Here, with Martin's soaring, Vernon-like vocal flourishes during the coda, and it becomes obvious that Bon Iver is influencing the modern direction of one of the world's biggest rock bands. That new collaboration also conveniently leads us to: