My doubts about Glen Hansard and Marketa Iglova winning the Academy Award for Best Song last night had nothing to do with the veracity of "Falling Slowly." I simply had a lot more faith in their talents than in the Academy.
I guess I was painting with a broad brush. The Frames frontman and Czech chanteuse were up for Best Sountrack and Best Song Written For A Motion Picture Grammy Awards, and music and film critics alike adored Once. Yet the critcally acclaimed dynamic duo weren't invited to perform (not even sure if they attended)--though that druggie bouffant singer chick we're all tired of hearing about got to participate remotely, to much mindless ado. Of course, ever since the mid-1980s I'd despised and ignored the Grammys without felling the same towards the Oscars--but the taint of "industry" had permeated my perception of the Academy Awards, nonetheless.
I watched the Oscars almost solely because of Glen and Mara's scheduled performance. As they sang the first chorus, I actually started to cry--overwhelmed, I guess, that indie underdogs I'd met and seen in small venues could actually have a shot at something this big. But then hearing the crowd reaction--much more enthusiastic than when the Enchanted singers romped about an elaborate stage--made me think, "You know, they really could win this!"
After the big moment, I was further heartened to see A-listers talk about the greatness of Once. Anne Hathaway--who I will no longer dismiss as a mere Disney/romantic comedy staple--even mentioned that she'd listened to "Falling Slowly" for months and "bawled" every time. Just like me (and maybe you)!
Host Jon Stewart giving up extra funnyman time to let Mara give her acceptance speech was the icing. While surprising regarding Oscar history, the gesture underlined a greater context. Don't know if anyone remembers, but Stewart had a late-night talk show in the mid-1990s, around the same time I had a weekly underground music column. His program--rather than Dave's or Conan's--was the one that every band I interviewed said was their favorite on which to appear. All these punk/alt rockers said Stewart seemed genuinely interested in the music. He even took some of them to parties.
So it's heartening that an industry often accused of being shallow could have such appreciation for Glen and Mara's art--more so than The Guy And Girl's own industry. It's almost ironic as the time I wrote for a Florida magazine that was "desperate" for reviewers who weren't old dudes stuck on one genre--and then it rewrote my review of The Frames' Burn The Maps to be mostly negative and ignore the highlights of the freakin' album. Guess that magazine, and the Recording Academy, will be whistling a different tune.
Perhaps that of "Falling Slowly."