If you ever needed evidence of the diversity in Canadian music – or the fact that the Junos can be a bit of an Oprah “You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!” love-in – you couldn't do better than the Juno Fan Choice category, which bundles together Drake, Carly Rae Jepsen, Metric, Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Leonard Cohen, Marianas Trench, Michael Buble, Nickelback and Hedley.
But let’s be less cynical and instead appreciate an award show that dares break down to a metaphorical cage match between Leonard Cohen and Rush against Carly Rae and Bieber.
That said, both legendary oldsters got shut out of the Album of the Year prize, despite Cohen's number one debut for "Old Ideas." Instead, the Junos' top category comes off more like six degrees of "Call Me Maybe" with hat tips for Carly Rae Jepsen's "Kiss," her hit song's co-songwriter Josh Ramsay's emo-rock outfit, Marianas Trench and her royal benefactor Justin Bieber's "Believe." Hedley and Celine Dion round out the category.
Single of the Year earns another nomination for Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" (she got a Juno-leading five in total) which takes on seven-time Juno-winners Billy Talent's "Viking Death March," Hedley's "Kiss You Inside Out," Serena Ryder's "Stompa" and the Sheepdogs' "The Way It Is."
Cohen did, however, get a nominee for Artist of the Year alongside Jepsen and Bieber as well as EDM overlord Deadmau5 and Irish-Canadian country singer Johnny Reid. Rush landed a spot on the Group of the Year, in advance of their upcoming Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, alongside Metric, Sheepdogs, Marianas Trench and Billy Talent.
Rush's "Clockwork Angels" also landed the band a best rock album nomination beside Tragically Hip, Billy Talent, Big Wreck and The Sheepdogs.
If you were wondering where Canada's beloved indie acts are, look no further than best alternative album, which
has been historically the awards' strongest category since it came online. This year is no exception, with international indie-rock superstars Japandroids "Celebration Rock" leading the charge alongside Metric's "Synthetica," Stars' "the North," Said the Whale' Little Mountain" and Hannah Georgas' self-titled album.
Adult alternative is similarly strong, led by Kathleen Edwards comeback record 'Voyageur" facing off albums from Bahamas, Royal Wood, Serena Ryder and Barr Brothers.
Songwriter of the year pits Leonard Cohen against, well, people daring to be in a songwriter competition against Leonard Cohen. Kathleen Edwards, Bahamas, Hannah Georgas and Arkells are all great songwriters, but this one should already be on Cohen's mantle.
Breakthrough artist of the year finally includes an industry acknowledgement of The Weeknd, whose three free download albums were ignored by the Junos because they weren’t for sale. He's joined by Polaris-nominated indie-superstar Grimes, fellow Polaris shortlister Cold Specks and Elisapie. Also in the category are Yukon Blonde, Monster Truck, Hey Ocean, Walk Off The Earth and, weirdly, The Pack AD, a Vancouver rock duo who've now have been around for quite some time.
The best electronic album category delivered another stellar collection of nominees with Crystal Castles' "III," Daphni's "Jiaolong," Grimes' "Visions," Purity Ring's "Shrines and Trust's "TRST."
Pop album comes down to another showdown between Jepsen and Bieber as well as cannon fodder like Nelly Furtado and Victoria Duffield. International album features Maroon 5, Mumford & Sons, One Direction, Rod Stewart and Taylor Swift, but who knows why the Junos still dole this one out. Alex Cuba and Danny Michel got nods for world music album while Josh Ramsly and Metric's James Shaw got the same for best producer. best video is highlighted by Drake's "HYFR" and Walk Off the Earth's "Little Boxes." Adam Cohen, Leonard's son, also got a Juno nomination for the awards newest category Adult Contemporary, though he's facing off against Celine Dion so, uh, bonne chance.
The Juno Awards will be visiting Regina and Moose Jaw for the first time on April 21 and will be airing on CTV, which landed a historic 6.5 million viewers for the 2012 Junos. Announced performers include: Marianas Trench, Billy Talent and Carly Rae Jespen.
10. Patrick Watson, "Lighthouse"
Delicate and mildly eccentric pianist Patrick Watson has built his reputation on gauzy, beautiful and slightly cracked compositions, and "Lighthouse" from his Adventures in Your Own Backyard album is probably the most perfect realization of this. There's a cinematic, magical realist tone to Watson and his band guiding us through the dark of night on a search for a lighthouse in the woods. You'll know when they find it. That's when the trumpets, strings and drums blind you with their light. — Aaron Brophy
9. A Tribe Called Red "Look At This"
A Tribe Called Red's story is worth merit on its own -- the Native Canadian DJ trio has matched traditional powwow drumming and chants with various EDM sub-genres to create some new and unique. None of which would matter it the experiment sucked — but it doesn't and "Look At This" best exemplifies Tribe's signature sound. Though they're connected to the Mad Decent crew, this isn't something trendy for hipster idiots walking around Coachella in headdresses. What Tribe are doing is tapping into a thousand years worth of primal beatmaking and the resulting music is something worthy of that heritage. — Aaron Brophy
8. The Weeknd "The Fall"
In 2011, Abel Tesfaye announced himself as one of the era's most exciting artists via three online mixtapes, capped off with the late-December release of <em>Echoes Of Silence</em>, which included this typically dark-hued rumination on his sudden success. Like an avant-R&B Icarus, The Weeknd's voice soars high, dodging dubby handclaps and druggy sonics as he tries to prepare himself for the inevitable collapse. Oh, and even if his narrator sounds unreliable, claiming "I ain't scared of the fall," Abel won't be facing it anytime soon considering his major-label re-release <em>Trilogy</em> went Top Five despite having already been doled out for free. — Joshua Ostroff
7. Neil Young "Walk Like A Giant"
While much of Neil Young and Crazy Horse's <em>Psychedelic Pill</em> album is made up of simple jams designed to please the wake 'n' bake crowd, the 16-plus minute confessional "Walk Like A Giant" is much more. Outwardly disguised as yet another Neil guitar epic, he uses the song to evaluate the hippie dream and his contribution to it. The uncomfortable conclusion that Young comes to — as the song slowly fades out with four minutes of noisy globs — is that he hasn't done nearly as much for the world as he'd hoped. — Aaron Brophy
6. D-Sisive "When We Die Together"
Rap's mope king D-Sisive has capped his appropriately cult-worshipped <em>Jonestown</em> album trilogy with "When We Die We Die Together," which might be his most moving song in a discography full of them. This narrative tale of helpless children and lonely widows subverts the uplifting la-la-las found in Of Monsters and Men's "From Finner" and uses them to create the ultimate lost-hope singalong. D-Sisive lays it out plain — it sucks for all of us — but for four and a half minutes we can at least share each other's pain. — Aaron Brophy
5. deadmau5 "the veldt"
Deadmau5 has often been accused of phoning it in, something he's encouraged with his just-press-play interviews and <em>>album title goes here<</em> album titles. The Ray Bradbury-inspired single could best be described as livestreaming it in — he broadcasted the 22-hour creation of "The Vedlt" online and then found its vocalist/lyricist Chris James on Twitter. More pop structured than his usual EDM dancefloor jams, "The Veldt" is an ambient number held aloft on a bed of late-'90s trance synths to deliver an unexpected emotional payload. It must've launched countless e-puddles this year. — Joshua Ostroff
4. Metric "Dreams So Real"
Metric are known for either soaring electro-pop, stadium rock or a combination thereof — which is why <em>Synthetica</em> centerpiece "Dreams So Real" stands out so starkly. Riding a distorted modulating synth line, Emily Haines reveals a rare vulnerability, questioning her achievements this far: "Thought I made a stand," she sings, sadly. "Only made a scene." But then Jimmy Shaw's guitar chimes out and you realize that her worry that "the scream becomes a yawn" is unfounded. Her scream became a whisper, one that simply pulled us in closer to hear. — Joshua Ostroff
3. Carly Rae Jepsen "Call Me Maybe"
When people defend pop as a genre, this is a masterclass in why. The failed "Canadian Idol" contestant certainly benefited from boarding the Bieber express, but Jepsen's already-released, pretty-much-perfect song was what got her the ticket — and it won Team Biebs over the same way it won over the rest of us. Its cotton-candy lightness is given substance with violin stabs, subtle beats and an all-time-classic hook, earworming its way onto the playlists of every archetypal "Breakfast Club" clique, even the too-cool Judd Nelson one. — Joshua Ostroff
2. Rufus Wainwright, "Out Of The Game"
Rufus spent several years delving ever deeper into the first half of his baroque-pop one-man-genre, but on this title track he finally gets back to the pop part. This is not to say that you'll be confusing Wainwright with Rihanna — in fact, tsk-tsk lyrics like, "does your mama know what you're doing?" could very well be referencing pop's current queens. But producer Mark Ronson, well-schooled in working with retro-infused artists, imposes a pop structure upon Rufus that, ironically, makes him feel perfectly contemporary. — Joshua Ostroff
1. Grimes "Oblivion"
"Oblivion" is one of those songs with lyrics completely removed from the music itself. Montreal avant-pop auteur Grimes' vocal chirps are a perfect match for the bubbly electro beats. That is, until you realize that she's chirping about breaking your neck (or perhaps having her own broken) and that the beats are way weirder than you first realized. Though the guerilla video of her dancing at a football game helped the song go viral, "Oblivion" was simply the purest distillation of her ability to turn some of the year's strangest music into some of its most accessible. — Joshua Ostroff