Okay, well we’re a little late with this one. Chances are you’ve already heard and formed an opinion about Vampire Weekend’s second album, Contra. Fortunately for us lollygaggers, that has given us the opportunity to try and put this album into context.
Some of the facts:
- Contra debuted as the number one album in the country, selling 124,000 copies in its first week. It was only the 12th independently-released album to do so. According to Billboard, their previous best sales week was when their debut self-titled album netted 28,000 sales in the opening week.
- Almost every U.S. show in support of this album has sold out. Locally, the band has progressed from the Rock and Roll Hotel (capacity 400 people) in early 2008, to two nights at the 9:30 Club (1,200) later that year, to DAR Constitution Hall (3,720) this coming April. All sell outs.
- In their second video in support of this album, for single “Giving Up the Gun,” we get a futuristic tennis match featuring Joe Jonas and Jake Gyllenhaal as players, Lil Jon as a French-speaking instructor and RZA as a Neo-from-The-Matrix-like referee (no joke). This is almost as random/absurd a group as another video starring Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It (On the Alcohol),” which also features Forest Whitaker, Ron Howard and Foxx himself rolling up to the club in a Rolls Royce to party with Samuel L. Jackson, T-Pain and many more. Seriously.
- On March 6, the group made its second appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”
All of the above accomplishments, including the ability to cobble together such a large swath of the cultural zeitgeist for one music video, demonstrate that Contra has launched Vampire Weekend from the flavor of the month to one of the biggest bands in alternative music. They have managed to do this by writing catchy tunes that can hook in somebody oblivious to the hype while incorporating technical elements that appeal to portions of the indie set.