The Juno Award nominees celebrate the best of the best, the who’s who of Canadian music (and international music as well). What makes the Junos for me, more pallidable than the Grammys is the pure Canadian-ness of the award show. It is less formal and stodgy than the Grammys, the crowd, mostly packed with ‘ordinary people’ provides a hockey game/party atmosphere, and who can forget that great Juno moment a few years ago where Coldplay performed and lead singer Chris Martin procured someone’s cell phone, mid-call and sang right into it – that brand of down-home charm is what makes the Junos a great awards show. The fact that the awards show migrates to different cities across Canada too, is great because different aspects of Canadian culture are represented each year – this year’s show is back in the maritimes so you KNOW it’s going to be a fun view.
The cons of the Junos are that the same Canadian mega-stars continually show up again and again year to year, and though the Junos seems to fairly nominate and represent all ends of the Canadian music spectrum, I’m sick of seeing Nickelback win awards just because their name is on the ballot (seriously, it seems like they’re up for numerous awards every single year – how many singles and albums do Kroeger and his band crank out?).
I did see however, some nice surprise nominees that I was thrilled about – Carly Rae Jepsen for one – that girl has a wealth of talent in terms of vocals and writing chops as well. Though her album got a little overlooked by music fans (but is actually a VERY good sunny pop/folk delight), it was nice to see it didn’t get overlooked by the Junos. I also noticed one of my top 50 albums of the decade, Great Lake Swimmers’ Lost Channels get a nod for ‘roots & traditional album of the year: group’. I would certainly love to see that album snag a win – it is absolutely fantastic – a compelling piece of music that provides bouts of sadness and mystery, Canadiana and pure beauty to the listener. Bahamas was also nominated for ‘roots & traditional album of the year: solo’ – again, an incredibly worthy nominee. However, my question about that category is, where is Patrick Watson? Did the Juno committee feel that because of his Polaris Prize nominations, he was set and didn’t need to get a Juno nom as well? He should have been up there.
It’s ironic to me that Nickelback’s latest release is entitled ‘Dark Horse’ – I’m fairly certain they’ll win at least one, if not all of the awards they were nominated for. Additionally, Nickelback’s over-the-top grand, loud, obnoxious shtick is anything but a ‘dark horse’ in Canadian music.
Michael Buble has the most nominations of the pack – 6 – and he will surely win most of those. Buble is truly making a name for himself and has made an impressive crossover into mainstream pop. Haven’t Met You Yet is one of the catchiest songs of 2009 – a radio-friendly cross-genre irresistable smash of a song, and I’m sure most voters will agree. And after Buble’s ridiculously intentionally cheesy performance at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games closing ceremonies, voters will have his mountie-donning crooner stance in the forefront of their minds.
Overall, there are some nice surprises this year mixed in with some not-so-surprising and frankly tired old choices. I have to say though, it brought joy to my patriotic little heart to see the Tragically Hip still kicking around and getting some nominations for their latest release. If James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, Gord Downie is the hardest working man in Canadian music.
The Junos are sure to be great east-coast flavoured patriotic fun – and surely, the Junos will serve up all the leftover rabid Canada-loving from the Olympic games. I hope to see some gold medalists at the celebration, and some quality performances that are more climactic than Vancouver 2010’s Avril Lavigne and Hedley.