The Snub and the Fools and the Stars

Depeche Mode isn't thrilled
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This evening, Depeche Mode was once again shut out of the Grammys. Every time the band is nominated for an industry award, it comes with mixed feelings for fans. Part joy for the possibility they might actually be getting recognized for their amazing work, and part skepticism for the fact they rarely get the respect they deserve from the music industry. They were part of a formative period in the life of electronic music and have inspired a generation of musicians spanning multiple genres. They’ve sold nearly 100 million albums worldwide. Their recent tours are playing to more people than any time in their career. They’ve built an army of a following that gives The Greatful Dead a run for their money. And yet, only a handful of outlets have recognized their achievements over a 30 year career.

Album after album, Fletch’s assessment that Depeche Mode are “the biggest underground band in the world” still rings true. Fans constantly field comments from friends and family who think of Depeche Mode as “some 80s band” or in most cases, don’t claim to know who they are. Some press outlets buy the cheapest Getty images they can get or have on hand, dating back to the early 80s without a care that those photos are completely irrelevant to an article written 25 years later. It seems like every album since Ultra has been hailed by the press as a come back, though the band never went anywhere. However, the band consistently remains an undercurrent in the timeline of music. Their influence pushes and pulls on the lives and creativity of others, often with little notice. More often than not, I’ve learned if I play Depeche Mode for anyone who thinks they haven’t heard of them, their memories are inevitably refreshed when they hear the songs, and quite a few songs more than they would have expected. People may not remember their faces, they may not remember their names, but the music remains. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Given the band’s own attitudes and feelings, that may be just fine by them; they’ve always preferred their music hold the spotlight over themselves.

I often feel that Depeche Mode may well be one of those brilliant artists that goes largely unrecognized in their time – stars in the sky, whose beauty goes under appreciated until their lights can no longer be seen. We don’t need brass gramophones, funny spacemen or parades of fools to validate the important role Depeche Mode plays in modern music, but it would be great to see them triumph in spite of it all.


Amanda is an enthusiastic, globe-trotting Mode fan who discovered the band in late 1998. Although she often feels like she got a late start in the Depeche Mode's career, she's survived nearly 20 years of the fandom, five new albums and multiple meetings with her love for the band intact (and stronger than ever). Amanda is a life-long creative, a classically trained graphic designer, working professionally as a User Experience Designer for one of the world's largest technology companies. When not at work or traveling for Depeche, she enjoys character illustration, comics, movies and Japanese Culture. And cats. Lots of Cats.

  • orchidhunter

    “Oh, perish the baubles!” as Oliver Goldsmith put it in She Stoops To Conquer. Industry awards may be a glimpse into popular taste, but they are certainly a poor reflection of quality. And Depeche Mode has made album after album of highly inventive, quality music for three decades now. And that’s an accomplishment that cannot be validated by a little gold statuette.

    • Amanda

      Exactly. They’ve been danced around for 30 years.. doubt much will change anytime soon, but they don’t need that to prove to themselves or anyone that they are still relevant.

  • Los Angelista

    Wow, very well said, Amanda. So very well said.

    • Amanda

      Thanks! Glad to know you enjoyed it. 🙂

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  • Ariel Michelle

    Alan’s quote regarding the BRIT Awards in 1990 from Jonathan Miller’s book is pretty spot on.

    “We were all pretty like-minded about avoiding industry-based ceremonies – best left to Sting and Elton.”

    Depeche Mode’s success, whether artistic or financial, has been already validated with the diverse artists who cite them as an influence, their intensely devoted fanbase, and the fact they have outlived nearly all their contemporaries.

    Let the Black Eyed Peas and Phoenix have their awards. Dave, Martin, Andy, and Alan know they have something far better. The hearts of millions of fans who know what the music industry and press are too ignorant to see, that Depeche Mode’s music is always innovative and timeless.

    Great post, btw.

    • Amanda

      Yes, indeed! DM has never really cared for the dog and pony show, so-to-speak. 😉 Thanks!