On February 13, 2011, Barbra Streisand stood on stage at Staples Center in Los Angeles, ready to announce the winner for the Album of the Year category at the 53rd annual Grammys. Pulling the slip from the envelope, she announced Arcade Fire as the winner from a field that included Lady Antebellum, Eminem, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga, seemingly utterly confused as she stammered through the first consonant of the word “suburbs.”
The Canadian indie-rock collective made their way to the stage; vocalist Win Butler’s first words as the band accepted the award were “What the hell?,” seemingly as caught off guard as the audience watching at home, many of whom were hearing the name Arcade Fire for the first time. He went on to thank the city of Montreal and the band members’ families, adding a “holy shit,” before saying, “We’re going to go play another song because we like music.” The then-septet kicked into “Ready to Start,” the second track off of their third album, The Suburbs, which turned 10 on Sunday.
At the time, the win felt unlikely: Indie rock artists seldom gained recognition at the Grammys, let alone the Album of the Year category. Taylor Swift, U2, and the Dixie Chicks all won the award in the decade leading up to the Arcade Fire’s victory, so when a band more popular on blogs than on the radio won Album of the Year, many