Talking Shit

Stephen Colbert Asks Who's the Bigger Sellout: Black Keys or Vampire Weekend?

When Stephen Colbert isn't bravely looking out for the little guy in the face of big government and entrenched union interests, he's also now bravely looking out for the average music fan. Not because he likes music or anything, he says, but just because he has a Grammy (scored in 2010 for his comedy album A Colbert Christmas).

"Folks, I've never liked music; it's just organized sound," he said on last night's broadcast of the Colbert Report. As far as I'm concerned, that makes it a union. No thanks!" 

Still, as a Grammy winner himself, he said he felt personally responsible for naming his favorites in the running for this year's competition -- especially in the Best Alternative Album category. Colbert quickly dismissed the first few nominees. The Arcade Fire had been on the Daily Show, after all. Band of Horses? "I prefer a band of humans!" Broken Bells? "Get back to me when you fix your bells!"

That left just two final nominees: Vampire Weekend and Black Keys. To battle it out for the official Colbert endorsement, the host invited Vampy Weeks' Ezra Koenig and Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney. 

But with nobody buying music any more, Colbert said he had to ditch album sales -- the seeming only criterion for past Grammy wins. So which band was the biggest moneymaker? The one with the most music in commercials! Ding-ding, it was time for a "Sell-out-off" between acts.

In the Black Keys' corner: "The Girl Is On My Mind," in commercials for Sony Ericsson, Zale's, and Victoria's Secret.

And in Koenig's corner: the ubiquitous "Holiday," in both a Honda spot and one for the appropriately preppy Tommy Hilfiger, plus Hewlett Packard ("A-punk").

Colbert called it a draw, declaring both bands had "equally whored out [their] music." Personally, we'll grant Vampire Weekend a free pass -- with the Ivy League pedigree, there was no hope of ever pretending to be "underground," and Tommy Hilfiger fits nicely with its "brand image." We don't believe in the concept of selling out in 2011, though, so we'll give Black Keys a free pass too, because hey, who doesn't love lingerie?

Check out the full segment of the video below. 

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Arielle Castillo
Contact: Arielle Castillo