Infinite Content and Infinite Discontent

Montreal based Arcade Fire are acutely aware of the power of media saturation. The enormity of internet chatter shot them to fame almost overnight in 2004. The internet’s intense power has continued propelling Arcade Fire upwards. They became a stadium fillers and festival headliner within the decade. This media saturation calumniated when the band won the 2011 Grammy for the best album, an award that owed as much to the sheer volume of fan support online as it did its own musical merits.

‘Everything Now’, their 2017 album, sees them deconstructing the media saturation that made them famous.  In the lead-up to its release Arcade Fire tweeted that they had been taken over the mysterious Everything Now Corporation. A market campaign of media saturation began. Product placement, fidget spinners, satirising music videos, and line of ‘tie-in’ products like ‘Creature Comfort Cereal’ and ‘Chemistry Energy Drink’ were released. They created fake ‘diva drama’ and made commentary about real celebrity drama.

The culmination of all this campaign of saturation was the “premature-premature-evaluation” of ‘Everything Now’ on fake music-review site Stereoyum. They gave their album a middling review stating that people would unfavourably compare it to earlier albums using language that mocked critic jargon and fan vitriol. The result was that Arcade Fire succeeded in doing something that no one had anticipated.

They had saturated media to such an extent that they forged new avenues for backlash and shown the internet utilise them.

The album dropped to intensely mixed reactions. Critics and fans were dubious about its cynical thematic content and media saturation campaign. Many reviews venomously citied lines from the fake review adding that Arcade Fire were ‘lost’.

Pippa Norris notes that media saturation of ‘new values’ on the internet can lead to a ‘cultural change’ in groups that were once homogenised. By creating an overwhelming amount of information and depositing it onto the online landscape new groups become aware of the culture and begin to co-opt certain elements. While the desired effect is the homogenisation of two smaller cultures the opposite effect is often the result. The new groups bring ‘new values’ which may not naturally integrate with the original culture and therefore can lead to fracturing and backlash.

‘Everything Now’ provides a trackable rubric for insight into the correlation between internet media saturation and fan-culture fracturing. Excess of input dehumanised people, making it easier for groups to hate when the introduction ‘new values’ creates a sudden cultural change. This paradigm shift from loving to loathing is not new. The release of U2’s automatically downloading album ‘Songs of Innocence’ saturated the media instantly and creating intense backlash. Within hours people were calling the band “out-of-touch” and “overrated”, an intense swing away from the near-universal love they had received before. Many bands have made stunts equally big, like the ‘Imperial Stars’ traffic jam in 2010, but no bands have been quite as pervasive as Bono with his endless TED talks and Arcade Fire with ‘Everything Now’.

When it comes to media saturation, sometimes less is more.


P. Norris, Digital Divide Civic Engagment, Information Poverty, and the Internet Worldwide, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001, pp. 196-197.

J. Sherry, ‘Media Saturation and Entertainment-Education’, Communication Theory, vol. 12, no. 2, 2002, pp. 206-224, available from: Wiley Online Library, (accessed 4 August 2017).

Links to images included in slideshow.

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