Award season continues and depending on your preference of music, you have a choice between caring about two awards that reflect Canadian’s musical output of the last 365 days. Whilst the Polaris Music Prize is like the equivalent of the Mercury Music Prize in the UK, the Juno Awards are more similar to the Brit Awards for it’s predictable selection and lean towards more accomplished acts.
The nominees for the Juno ‘Album of the Year’ are usually famous and have mainstream success, although with so many other awards handed out including ‘Best Francophone Album Of The Year’, there are bound to be artists that raise an eyebrow to the British audiences. This year’s awards will be hosted for the first time by bronze-placed Canadian idol contestant and pop rock group Hedley’s main man Jacob Hoggard, Canada’s answer to Ant and Dec.
It will also feature performances from artists that have made an impact in the UK including chart-topping Kiesza and “Rude” reggae fusion band Magic. On March 15, it will be presented for the sixth time in Hamilton, Ontario and here is a breakdown of the six most interesting awards and who will be hoping to fill their trophy cabinet.
Album Of The Year:
This accolade is under its third title as it was originally called ‘Best Selling Album’ for four years and ‘Best Album’ for three years, before going back to the name it adopted during the eighties and most of the nineties. Last year, Arcade Fire won the award for Reflektor, which despite being their second win, it’s still unusual to see a band from an indie circuit pick up the gong that’s been awarded to Celine Dion three times. Although Nickelback have been nominated for five out of their eight albums, my bet is on the host awarding himself and his band Hedley with the honour.
Nickleback – No Fixed Address // Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems // Hedley – Wild Life // Bobby Bazini – Where I Belong // Serge Fiori – Serge Fiori
Francophile Album Of The Year:
A proud mixed heritage is kept alive with an award for the best French-language award. It’s a surprise that there are enough French-language albums to create a shortlist considering many acts from the French regions choosing to perform in English such as Patrick Watson, Arcade Fire and Chromeo. It would be interesting if the BRIT Awards included a similar idea with London acts such as Ibibio Sound Machine choosing to vocalize in a Nigerian language. Previous winners have included Malajube and trophy-hogging Celine Dion who has also won this four times. If Serge Fiori doesn’t win the best album award, he’s likely to take this prize instead.
Phillipe B – Omithologie la nuit // Serge Fiori – Serge Fiori // Jimmy Hunt – Maladie d’Amour // Klo Pelgag – L’Alchimie Des Montres // Sagot – Valse 333
Best Aboriginal Album Of The Year:
This strict and complicated award goes only to artists who have a relation with the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation government in British Columbia. The narrow nature of the award quickly gained controversy in it’s first year in 1994 when it reflected songs rather than albums because pop singer Nancy Nash under her moniker Sazacha Red Sky wasn’t actually from the correct heritage and performed a a sacred song entitled “The Prayer Song” without permission. To prevent further complications, the award was renamed “Aboriginal Album of the Year” in 2010. This year’s nominees range from blues, country and folk feature Tanya Tagaq, an inuit throat singer who was nominated for last year’s Polaris Music Prize.
Crystal Shawanda – The Whole World’s Got The Blues // Digging Roots – For The Light // Leela Gilday – Heart of the People // Tanya Tagaq – Animism // Tomson Highway – The (Post) Mistress
Children’s Album Of The Year:
Children’s music must be a big deal in Canada for there to be an award dedicated to it. This is a traditional award that has been part of the ceremony since 1979 and its most famous winner was awarded to the ironically titled Barenaked Ladies in 2008 with Snack Time. It was also a commercial success reaching #61 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Although they are still fairly unknown to the British public, you can hear their music every time you watch the opening sequences to sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This year’s nominees include a French language addition in the form of duo LuLu et Le Matou.
Bobs and LoLo – Wave Your Antlers // Fred Penner – Where In The World // LuLu et Le Matou – Le Chat Botté // Raffi – Love Bug // Splash’N Boots – Happy Times
Recording Package Of The Year:
This is an award that deserves more recognition but like the ‘Best Sound Mixing’ award at The Academy Awards, it has a low chance of being presented live on Canadian television network CTV. The award has been given to graphic designers since 1975 and previous winners include Tracey Maurice and Francois Miron for their album cover for Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible and Justin Broadbent’s artwork for Metric’s Synthetica. The nominees this year include the minimalistic design for Timber Timbre’s Hot Dreams designed by Taylor Kirk.
Bry Webb – Free Will (Alex Durlak, Jeff McMurrich and Bry Webb) // The Lost Fingers – Wonders of the World (Caroline Blanchette) // Pup – Pup (Menno Versteeg, Zack Mykula, Jason Bartell and Yoshi Cooper) // Steve Bell – Pilgrimage (Roberta Hansen, Mike Latschislaw) // Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams (Taylor Kirk, Robyn Kotyk, Laura Margaret Ramsey)
The full list of nominations can be found at the official Juno website here.