By macleans.ca - Sunday, April 21, 2013 - 0 Comments
Metric and Carly Rae Jepsen win three trophies each, while Bieber takes home the Fan Choice award
Last night in Regina, Sask., the 42nd Juno Awards honoured the best in Canadian music. The ceremony was hosted by Michael Bublé. Performers included multiple Juno-award nominee Carly Rae Jepsen, along with the Saskatoon band The Sheepdogs, Montreal’s Metric, Toronto’s Serena Ryder and Billy Talent, and Vancouver’s Hannah Georgas and Marianas Trench. Absent was Justin Bieber, who is currently touring Europe. However the 19-year-old pop star managed to pick up the Juno Fan Choice award.
Here is a complete list of the winners:
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM - 0 Comments
The full list of 2013 Juno nominees was released Tuesday. The nominees are:
The full list of 2013 Juno nominees was released Tuesday. The nominees are:
JUNO FAN CHOICE AWARD
Carly Rae Jepsen – 604*Universal
Céline Dion – Columbia*Sony
Drake Aspire/Cash – Money*Universal
Hedley – Universal
Justin Bieber – Island Def Jam*Universal
Leonard Cohen – Columbia*Sony
Marianas Trench – 604*Universal
Metric – Metric Music International*Universal
Michael Bublé – Reprise*Warner
Nickelback – Universal Continue…
By Alex Ballingall - Monday, April 2, 2012 at 9:08 AM - 0 Comments
Hosted by 81-year-old William Shatner, the Juno Awards ceremony in Ottawa Sunday night was…
Hosted by 81-year-old William Shatner, the Juno Awards ceremony in Ottawa Sunday night was an eclectic affair. It featured performances by musical acts as variable as Newfoundland indie rockers Hey Rosetta!, electro-house DJ Deadmau5 and a duet by Jim Cuddy and Sarah McLachlan.
Leslie Feist came away the big winner at the Juno Awards this weekend, taking away three trophies, including one for adult alternative album of the year and and artist of the year. “All I can do is express some genuine gratitude,” the singer told the audience at the televised ceremony.
Saskatoon roots-rockers The Sheepdogs also had a big night after a breakthrough year that saw them win a contest to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and tour extensively. In fact, they weren’t on hand to accept their awards—rock album of the year, new group of the year and single of the year for I Don’t Know—since they are currently on tour in Australia.
Meanwhile, Vancouver’s Dan Mangan won new artist of the year, even though he released his third full-length album, Oh Fortune, last year. And Michael Bublé’s collection of Christmas songs beat out Toronto rapper Drake’s Take Care to win album of the year.
Country rock legends Blue Rodeo were also inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
By Stephen Carlick - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 12:02 PM - 0 Comments
Last year’s Junos seemed suddenly credible to champions of both underground and established Canadian music
I can’t tell you exactly what I was doing on the night of March 27, 2011, but I can tell you what I wasn’t doing: watching the 40th annual Juno Awards. To Canadians who care passionately about music, and especially among critics (myself included), the Junos have been something of a joke. They traditionally ignore an exciting, stimulating underground Canadian music scene in favour of showering praise on has-been pseudo-celebrities and major-label acts whose careers are propped up solely and precariously by the magnanimous “CanCon” requirements of the CRTC.
I was surprised to hear some curious things the morning after the ceremony. The first was that in 2011, 40 years after the inaugural Juno Awards in 1971, more viewers tuned in to the show than ever before. And second, there were none of the usual musical simulacra—artists and bands with no discernible fan bases, and popularity that hinged on bought “buzz”—receiving the statuettes. Almost overnight, the Junos seemed suddenly credible to champions of both underground and established Canadian music. How had the Junos become watchable again, I wondered, when record sales have been steadily declining since 1999 to make less than half of what the music industry once earned?
By Philippe Gohier - Friday, September 23, 2011 at 9:15 AM - 2 Comments
The Polaris Prize isn’t a popularity contest, and Arcade Fire are very popular
Going into the gala for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize, two things were clear. First, Arcade Fire, who were nominated for The Suburbs, were the overwhelming favourite to take home the award. Gala host Grant Lawrence made it clear early in the evening when he suggested the Montreal band was facing off against “nine dark horses.” As a fellow scribe put it, Monday night’s contest was “Arcade Fire versus the world”—or at least, indie Canada.
Second, the Polaris Prize isn’t meant to be a popularity contest. The award’s only criterion is “artistic merit.” This was repeated like a mantra throughout the evening, lest anyone be under the impression that mainstream recognition, clever videos, or album sales might be in play at an awards show featuring bands most Canadians have never heard of. And therein lay the tension—how would the Polaris Prize jury reconcile the fact that Canada’s bestselling band might also be its best band? Can a band that sells out arenas and whose last album hit No. 1 in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. still be credible with the indie crowd?
By Elio Iannacci - Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 1:45 PM - 0 Comments
Slean closes the crisis chapter of her life with an ambitious new double album that soars
Sarah Slean lives for her flourishes. After laying down the vocals for a track called The Cosmic Ballet—an elaborate cut from her upcoming double album Land & Sea—she kicks off her heels and runs over to listen to the playback with a kid-at-Christmas grin. It’s evident that the state-of-the-art studio in Toronto’s east end where she’s working has become Slean’s playground. While it is populated by a 23-piece orchestra and a room filled with middle-aged recording experts, everyone remains silent until Slean’s ear makes a call. Around the three-minute mark—just when the song hits its string-heavy climax—she turns to the pack of engineers futzing about with buttons and knobs and jubilantly says: “Gentlemen, more bells and whistles, please!”
Think this sounds like a scene straight out of a Judy Garland picture? Slean would be delighted by the thought. In fact, much of the 34-year-old Pickering, Ont., native’s inspiration is fuelled by old Hollywood musicals. “If you listen closely to the chords off the soundtracks to those Garland and Hepburn-type movies, you realize the genius at work there,” she says, two months later in a café on the other side of town. “On the surface,” she explains, the songs in films like The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz “are grand and whimsical, but underneath them, there is this real intensity. I’m attracted to that sense of mastery.”
Set for a Sept. 27 release, Land & Sea is chock full of the singer’s taste for opulence. “I have dreamed of most of them,” she says of the catalogue of songs from her past six albums, including radio favourites such as Sweet Ones (from her 2002 disc Night Bugs); Mary (from 2004’s Day One) and Get Home (from 2008’s The Baroness). “And I dreamed up most of this new album as well. I just hope the songs come out as vivid as I remember them.”
By Brian D. Johnson - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 10:22 AM - 5 Comments
Neil Young was the designated patriarch at this year’s Juno love-in between elders and upstarts
It’s a sub-zero Sunday evening in Toronto. Under an unheated canopy, a gang of fledgling rock stars wait their turn on the red carpet, shivering in T-shirts and black leather. They’re Down With Webster, a Toronto rock-rap band of twentysomething sensations whose album, Time To Win, has scored a string of platinum hits. The occasion is the 40th anniversary of the Juno Awards at the Air Canada Centre. The band will get to kick off the show, which is a big deal for them. Earlier in their dressing room, these amiable pop idols had been finessing last-minute details, planning a run from the stage into the crowd and voting down a plea from the drummer to shoot video during the performance for the band’s Facebook page. Then, after correcting their hair, rummaging about for their sunglasses, and freshening their breath with gum from a bowl on the buffet table, they head outside, so they can re-enter via the red carpet.
Huddled in the cold beside the Barenaked Ladies, the boys wait for their cue, as Drake, the show’s emcee, is whisked through with his entourage. “Twenty-two years for this s–t!” yells Ed Robertson of the Ladies. “My Junos are getting cold!” He’s joking. But there is something so forlornly Canadian about frozen rock stars queuing up for their turn on a red carpet. When Down With Webster finally gets the nod, pandemonium erupts. Throngs of young teenage girls, pressed against the barricades with outstretched arms, scream their names at an ear-splitting pitch: the sound of Beatlemania, or Biebermania, on a smaller scale.
Later, a grizzled old dude in a long black coat, black hat and red scarf enters to a decidedly less hysterical response. Many of the kids don’t even recognize Neil Young.
By macleans.ca - Friday, April 23, 2010 at 8:30 AM - 2 Comments
Plus a week in the life of Gordon Campbell
Face of the week
PUMPED UP: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden rallies female student athletes at George Washington University in Washington
A week in the life of Gordon Campbell
His party lags badly in the polls, with almost half of B.C. voters leaning toward the NDP. Yet Campbell marches on. Friday he said he’d miss a Surrey Sikh parade with radical undertones. Sunday he learned he’d receive the Canadian Olympic Order for his support of the Vancouver Games. Monday—way up in northeast B.C.—he announced plans for a 900-megawatt dam project on the Peace River. Tuesday he opened a new Pixar studio in Gastown. Sounds like a last lap to us.
Rain or shine
Neither the soupy fog in St. John’s nor the ash from an Icelandic volcano could derail the Juno Awards. Despite early fears of transportation chaos, the awards show came off a success (and we can’t help but feel heartened that K’Naan, who performed his inspirational Wavin’ Flag, was a big winner). Fears the volcanic ash would shutter the airport did prompt several Tory MPs to jump on special, late-night flights after the show, leaving their Liberal counterparts fuming they missed leaving town early. But given the choice between a return to Ottawa and another night celebrating on George Street, we think we’d take the latter.
The rights stuff
The head of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has a solution to concerns that human rights proceedings have become a kangaroo court. Let the real courts take over. Last week, David Arnot said he’d prefer to abolish the province’s human rights tribunal and give the job of hearing complaints to the Court of Queen’s Bench. Arnot argues human rights law has become so complex it requires the attention of real judges. Such a move would also provide a clearer separation of powers between the commission and the adjudication of cases. It’s a step in the right direction. Human rights tribunals were never supposed to be courts—just conciliators. Could common sense soon emerge as a basic human right in Canada?
A fearless leader
At a speech given in the Congo, attended by the country’s president and military leaders, Governor General Michaëlle Jean spoke out against wartime use of rape as a weapon must not go unpunished. Jean continues to be a fearless and passionate representative of this country, even as she nears the end of her term and fascination attends the question of her replacement. That interest is a credit to her work and populist appeal. The downside? Internet sites are suggesting candidates like Leonard Cohen and William Shatner. As the Queen’s representative? Please.
The kids are alright
Two Winnipeg teachers who performed a routine closely resembling a lap dance at a school pep rally are out of work. One resigned, the other’s contract won’t be renewed. “It was disturbing,” one teen student said of the dance, viewed by millions on YouTube. We long for the days when teachers were dignified—even intimidating—rather than trying to be hip. It’s gratifying the students knew inappropriate behaviour when they saw it. Maybe good taste is inborn and stays intact, no matter what they see at school.
Saskatchewan Party MLA Serge LeClerc, a former gangland criminal who found God in jail and became a motivational speaker, has come under increasing scrutiny. One NDP member said LeClerc gave him the finger and menaced him outside the legislature. On Friday, the CBC said it received a package containing a recording of a man who sounds like LeClerc discussing recent cocaine use and sex with a man. Though he’d secured his party’s riding nomination and had pursued the process into April, LeClerc—who denies everything—quit caucus, and says he’d planned to leave politics all along. The premier has sent the allegations to police. Whatever comes of this, it’s a regrettable spectacle.
Out of control
Toyota paid a US$16.4-million fine to U.S. safety regulators to settle complaints over sticky accelerator pedals. That should have marked the end of the recall nightmare for the world’s top automaker. Yet the problems keep coming. Toyota was forced to stop selling one of its Lexus SUVs over a report the truck can lose control in high-speed cornering. Worse, a simmering internal dispute between the Toyoda family and company executives went public as the two sides traded blame. It once looked like Toyota’s good name was being unfairly tarnished. Now, we’re not so sure.
Pew says: Pee-u!
Republicans and Democrats can’t play nice. On Saturday, President Barack Obama accused Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of launching a “cynical and deceptive” attack against a measure designed to tame Wall Street. Not exactly bipartisan. For its part, the GOP is using the very real issue of America’s faulty financial system to score points. So goes U.S. politics these days, and Americans are understandably perturbed. A Pew Research Center survey says just 22 per cent believe they can trust Washington “almost always or most of the time”—a historic low; almost a third think the government is a threat to personal freedom.
Out of their tree
A British court fined a hotel $3,100 after health and safety investigators found the owners had failed to carry out a “risk assessment” on the dangers of sawing a tree branch with a ladder leaning against it. Peter Aspinall, the 63-year-old handyman, fell 14 feet after sawing through the branch. The hotel had pleaded guilty to the breaches, and Aspinall is now pursuing a civil suit. Still, the hotel’s solicitor expressed disappointment that “common sense did not prevail” in the ruling. “It is an unusual accident,” he said. “Laurel and Hardy do that sort of thing.”
By Michael Barclay - Monday, April 19, 2010 at 12:27 PM - 9 Comments
No highs or lows, but plenty of Bieber and Bublé
The Juno Awards telecast is not about handing out hardware. It’s part genuine musical celebration, part industry backslapping, part CTV cross-promotional orgy, part high school pep rally and/or provincial tourism ad, with as many live performances as possible squeezed into a tightly run two-hour slot.
Which means that 90 per cent of the awards are presented at a non-televised dinner the night before: everything from album packaging of the year to artist of the year. By the time the telecast started, many of my favourite albums of 2009 had already won Junos: Bell Orchestre for instrumental album of the year (As Seen Through Windows), Charles Spearin for contemporary jazz album of the year (The Happiness Project), Billy Talent for rock album of the year (III), and K’naan for artist of the year. After decades of grumbling about the Junos, this was the first year I was predisposed to genuinely enjoy them.
And yet they disappointed again—not because they were awful, but because they weren’t. Normally they are a combination of the painful and the ever-so-slightly profound, thanks to the cheap commercialization and the glimpses of comparatively obscure artists getting a shot in prime time. If we’re lucky, someone makes a decent speech. The 2010 Junos, by comparison, were like lithium: no highs, no lows, just even keel.
One wonders what the cranky and notorious nationalist Stompin’ Tom Connors would have thought of the opening sequence, where Halifax hip-hop MC Classified marched down George Street in St. John’s, rapping a track called O Canada, a completely earnest lyrical litany of patriotic platitudes waiting to be spun into a tourism ad.
As if to immediately illustrate the evening’s diversity—or, more likely, to comfort anyone over 40 who was bewildered by Classified—the show quickly shifted inside to Michael Bublé, who kicks it REALLY old school. He soon wins single of the year for Haven’t Met You Yet—which, in his acceptance speech, he claims he wrote for his fiancé. Was he stalking her at the time? Is she a mail-order bride?
The Barenaked Ladies take the stage to a) announce that they have a new album and b) assure everyone that they are not the hosts of the show. In fact, there are no hosts. Which, for the absence of Russell Peters alone, is a great idea.The always-deadpan keyboardist Kevin Hearn promises, with noticeably forced enthusiasm, “It’s going to be a great night!” (Doesn’t he mean a good, good night? Aren’t these guys supposed to be pop-culture savvy?)
Tween-pop sensation Justin Bieber performs with only an acoustic guitarist and four male back-up singers and a guest spot from Drake. Say what you will about the puppy-dog eyes and Donny Osmond teeth, the boy can sing, and that swagger coach of his is earning his paycheque. Too bad Bieber’s singing a song with the chorus “I’m like, baby, baby, baby.” Because he looks like baby!
The “action” moves back outside to George Street, where Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle once again have head-scratching Canadians asking: are these two famous for anything other than being the token Newfoundlanders on CBC radio shows and CTV event television? Fellow cutie Newfie (and CTV personality) Seamus O’Regan shows up to help them all agree that St. John’s is amazing.
Bublé wins the corporate-sponsored fan choice award—do baby boomers actually vote online?—and makes a lame product placement joke in his acceptance speech. By this point in the evening, he’s starting to overstay his welcome, and the next performer proves why. Johnny Reid is a platinum-selling country artist here in Canada, but he just landed an international deal and is planning on making an R&B album. His song Dance With Me is more John McDermott than Johnny Cash, but listening to this guy sing with twice the depth and soul of the cheezeball Bublé, it sounds like he can do anything he wants—as long as he learns some new stage gestures that don’t look like he’s a karaoke king at his local bar, rather than a veteran performer.
Billy Talent are not only the loudest band at this year’s Junos, they’re also the only one performing a song about a Paulo Coehlo novel. They’ve come a long way since their first Juno performance several years back, when Ben Kowalewicz’s shrieking was as much a challenge to old Juno orthodoxy as the first hip-hop performances were. These days, there’s no denying Billy Talent’s melodic strength, and Kowalewicz is sounding more like the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra. But he still lets out a high-pitched screech near the end of Saint Veronika—and you would too, if you were a punk rocker who just lost a category to Michael Bublé.
K’naan, named artist of the year at the earlier ceremony is, as always, the most dapper man in the entire room. He’s there to present Bryan Adams with the honorary humanitarian award; Adams, in an apparently biblical mood of generosity, says, “Thank you, Canaan.” Adams is stranded in Europe because of the Icelandic volcano; by video link, he gives a gracious and humble acceptance speech that puts a nice dent in his often prickly reputation. Speaking of gracious and humble, K’naan soon returns to the stage to pick up songwriter of the year—which is well deserved, not just for Wavin’ Flag, but for the fact that he’s one of the most compelling MCs working in hip-hop today, who can write circles around most of his peers, including Drake.
At the halfway point in the ceremony, this year’s Junos are nowhere near the shitshow they were last year, easily the most embarrassing in recent memory (and there’s a lot of competition there). Where are the terrible jokes, the awkward moments, the uncomfortable presenters, the ridiculously over-the-top performances? Why does everyone actually look happy to be there? Can this actually be the Junos?
For a brief moment, it looks like the Olympics, because skeleton athlete Jon Montgomery is standing on the street in a throng of excited, patriotic Canadians, amiably joking with Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle—and with more charisma than either of them put together. He demonstrates his day job skills as an auctioneer by taking bids on Justin Bieber’s phone number and Jim Cuddy’s hotel room key. “This could go on for a while,” Doyle deadpans. Maybe it should—I hereby nominate Montgomery to host the 2010 Junos.
Great Lake Swimmers are a band I never thought I’d see playing the Junos. Not because they don’t deserve it—Tony Dekker is one of the most haunting Canadian songwriters of the last 10 years—but because I once saw their former keyboardist fall asleep on stage. Stadium rock they’re not (nor should they be). Here, however, they do their best, despite a poor sound mix and the fact that the cameraman is clearly more fixated on violinist and backing singer Miranda Mulholland than anyone else in the band, including Dekker.
Every year that the Junos has been held somewhere outside of Ontario, a provincial premier makes a token appearance. For whatever reason, Danny Williams is featured standing innocuously and unannounced somewhere in the middle of the crowd—as if a camera crew just happened to find him there—and only allowed to throw to a commercial. Heritage Minister James Moore, who always looks uncomfortable in the presence of real-life performers, co-presents the award for best new artist. Thankfully, they pair him with fabulously flamboyant loudmouth Jully Black, who all but ignores his painfully earnest introduction by turning around and whooping it up for the crowd: “N-F-L-D! Make some noise!” Moore looks pleasantly baffled that he’s witnessed what these mysterious creative people call an “off-script” moment. They present the award to Drake, who beats Bieber in the only real horserace of the night. Drake thanks his mom, who “is responsible for not only the artist that I am, but the man that I am.” Aw, shucks.
Metric celebrate their win for group of the year—over tough competition from Billy Talent, The Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo—by singing “gimme sympathy after all this is gone.” Looks like they won’t need it: they’re poster children for international indie success, being, according to their intro, the first band in history to have a Top 20 U.S. single from a self-released album. (Later we learn that April Wine was the first Canadian band to go platinum with an independent album—indie rock is nothing new, kids.) What would Stompin’ Tom have to say about that?
It’s now 80 minutes into the show, and Great Big Sea finally show up. They’re introducing their early benefactors Blue Rodeo, who have every right to phone it in at this point of their career—and yet they don’t, performing a delicate and sparse Jim Cuddy ballad that’s easily one of the best songs he’s written in his 25-year career.
The show starts to grind to a halt. April Wine is inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Drake performs his mediocre new single, Over (“What am I doin’? / I’m doin’ me”). He then wins for best rap recording, which comes with a catch: he has to hug every member of Hedley, who present him with the award. Is any Juno worth that? Drake says, “I do this because I believe in all forms of music that come from Canada.” Don’t hold your breath for a Johnny Reid collab.
Milking their post-Olympic glow, CTV trots out Alexandre Bilodeau to present the album of the year award, introducing him as “the king of freestyle.” (All you hip-hop MCs watch your back!) The adorable Bilodeau gets a larger cheer than any single performer or presenter has all night, and also gets the biggest laugh when he announces that the winner is “Michael Bubble!” Buble, having exhausted his thank-you list several times already, thanks Ron Sexsmith, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and his grandma.
The 2010 Junos wrap up with K’naan performing his anthemic Waving Flag with special guests Drake, Nikki Yanofsky, and Justin Bieber—the latter putting special emphasis on the line “when I get older”—appearing only on the final chorus, making it less of an all-inclusive, roof-raising, Tears Are Not Enough-style closer than it could have been. Damhnait Doyle signs off: “With pride, from Newfoundland and Labrador!” One can’t help but think she wakes up every morning saying that.
The camera then lingers on her and Stockwood dancing awkwardly on George Street, in a spotlight surrounded by hundreds of Newfoundlanders not sure what they’re supposed to be looking at by this point. Neither are we.