Sure enough, Twitter quickly lit up with disgruntled Skrillex and Nicki Minaj fans who had no idea who Bon Iver was. “Lol and best new artist...... BonIver.... Who? Lol” tweeted @scottspeed. “Bon Iver who r u?” tweeted @haileybaldwin. “Who was that guy? Bon Iver?” tweeted @Paige_Duke.
For the uninitiated, Bon Iver is a band from Eau Claire, Wis., and folks who don’t know their music on its own may have heard of them from their collaboration with Kanye West as supporting vocalists on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” Bon Iver’s confusion also inspired a YouTube mashup from a group that called itself Bon Joviver, playing off Twitter users conflating the band with Bon Jovi.
Washington Post music critic Chris Richards reviewed Bon Iver’s self-titled album in June, calling it, “amorphous and triumphant — a haze of acoustic guitars, airy synthesizers and tumbling drums floating beneath Vernon’s hallucinogenic yowl, like two stratus clouds overlapping in a dream.”
Those who did know the band praised frontman Justin Vernon for his humble acceptance speech. “It’s hard to accept because when I started to make songs, I did it for the inherent reward of making songs, so I’m a little bit uncomfortable up here,” he said. “I want to say thank you to all of the nominees, to all of the non-nominees that have never been here and never will be here, all the bands I toured with, all of the bands that inspired me.”
Need a quick education in all things Bon Iver? ClickTrack has a selection of reviews:
At last night’s 54th Annual Grammy awards, Bon Iver beat out Skrillex, the Band Perry, J. Cole and Nicki Minaj for the best new artist award — and they even pronounced the band’s name correctly!
Need a crash course on Justin Vernon, the bearded Wisconsinite who performs as Bon Iver? Chris Richardscalled Bon Iver’s 2011 self-titled sophomore album one of the best of the year in his original take. And reviewing an August performance at the 9:30 Club, David Malitz deemed that same album “awards bait.”
Some viewers confused at the pronunciation of Bon Iver mistakenly looked up ‘Bonnie Bear,’ an animated character in a children’s show. As Maura Judkis reported:
It was obvious that there would be confusion surrounding any Bon Iver Grammy win — the band had already inspired a Tumblr, “Who is Bon Iver?” after it was nominated for Best New Artist, and a viral video riffed off of people supposing that the band was a spin-off of Bon Jovi.
But no one predicted the confusion would run quite this deep: Mis-hearing the name of the band (It’s pronounced ‘BONE ee-VER,’ like the French) Twitter users weren’t just searching for ”Who is Bon Iver?” They were searching, “Who is Bonny Bear?”
Bonnie Bear, as it turns out, is the star of an animated kids’ show by BabyFirst TV. Bonnie is a teddy bear dressed in pink overalls, who flies through the air to play her “listening game.” Her friend is — ironically — a gramophone, just like the two Grammy trophies that Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon collected last night.
Naturally, the Who is Bon Iver? Tumblr and blogs like Hipster Runoff capitalized on the error. Commenters took to the Bonnie Bear YouTube videos, writing “Congrats on the Grammy! Well deserved!” under a video of the cartoon bear identifying animal sounds. “As if Nicki lost to this,” wrote another, referring to Nicki Minaj’s Best New Artist loss. Other blogs have taken to photoshopping Vernon’s head onto bear bodies.
Just as there was a Bon-Jovi/Bon Iver mashup when the Internet was confusing the two bands, I predict it won’t be long before we see a viral video of Bon Iver’s whispery voice covering the “Listening Song.” We’ve contacted BabyFirst TV for comment about their unusual publicity, and will update this post when we hear back
More on the 2012 Grammy Awards:
Review: A sweep for Adele on solemn night
ASK NOW: Chris Richards Live Q&A, noon ET
The best and worst Grammy performances
List of Grammy winners in selected major categories
The best, worst and weirdest of the red carpet
Essay: Grammy nominee dreams of a win
Grammy Awards play-by-play
Celebrity reactions on Twitter