If the Grammys are a steaming pile of shit, then the Junos are a steaming pile of shit with gravy, cheese curds, and Chad Kroeger's ball sack hair. Like the dysfunctional shit-show that takes place every February at L.A.'s Staples Center, the Junos are full of absurd categorical nominations, undeserving nominees, industry politicking, ridiculous standards for certain categories, hip-hop/rap discrimination and poor host selections. Despite some improvement in recent years, the Junos are still hilariously stupid in many aspects. BUT WE STILL LOVE 'EM!
The nominees for the Junos were announced today and they did not disappoint. LET'S MAKE FUN OF THEM!
Before we go on, let me first discuss that 2011 was not the strongest year for Canadian music. A lot of this has to do with some of the powerhouse bands (Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene) having released albums in 2010 and having just finished a tour cycle. There was a little dip, so there may be some weak nominees. That's not going to stop me from laughing at some of them.
Fan Choice of the Year
Arcade Fire (???)
City and Colour
Here is our first example of the weird 14 month window in which the work of bands is judged (the period for releasing material that is eligible for a Juno award in any year is 14 months), although I'm not entirely clear as to what qualifies an artist/band for this category. Most of these acts released albums last year, so that makes sense. But what is Arcade Fire doing there? I feel like CARAS/Juno organizers expanded the category and threw Arcade Fire in the ring in an attempt to appease angry people like me. NOT WORKING!
It's difficult to comment on this newly expanded category since it's entirely fan driven. I really have no qualms with this since it engages fans. Obviously, your Nickelbacks, Hedleys and Biebers (oh my!) have to be there, but it's good to see that there's at least some variety.
But really, who gives a shit? Let's move on to the good stuff!
Snubs: Hey Rosetta!, I guess?
Predicted Winner: Hedley (these fuckers have more fans than you think!)
Single of the Year
City and Colour - "Fragile Bird"
Hedley - "Invincible"
Johnny Reid - "Let's Go Higher"
Nickelback - "When We Stand Together"
The Sheepdogs - "I Don't Know"
Now THIS is what I'm talking about! While I'm not big on City and Colour, the song "Fragile Bird" is far and away the best song of this group of duds. "Invincible" is just another stream of projectile vomit from tween-angst pros Hedley, while "Let's Go Higher" is your usual country-pop, plastic cup, backyard family reunion song. I've already told you what I think about "I Don't Know" and the Sheepdogs. As for Nickelback's latest cookie-cutter single, I don't need to tell you what I think of this song because you probably already know. IT'S AMAZING.
Snub: Did Theory of a Deadman put out a single in 2011? If so, that song.
Predicted Winner: Johnny Reid "Let's Go Higher", solely on the basis of hearing it every 5 minutes on CBC.
International Album of the Year
Adele - 21
Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto
Lady Gaga - Born This Way
LMFAO - Sorry for Party Rocking (APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED)
Rhianna - Loud
This category gives CARAS the opportunity to expand the viewing audience for the ceremony by possibly adding one of the International artists to the live bill (see: Coldplay and Black Eyed Peas, 2006). It also gives the Juno organizers another way to increase ad revenue (sponsored by HMV). Otherwise, why have the category?
Snubs: Determined by record sales, so I guess none. Unless you want to lash out at those weirdos that still buy CDs.
Album of the Year
Avril Lavigne - Goodbye Lullabye
Drake - Take Care
Justin Bieber - Under the Mistletoe
Michael Buble - Christmas
Nickelback - Here and Now
This is a fucking joke, right? I mean, they didn't actually nominate two (YES, TWO (2)) Christmas albums for Album of the Year, did they? With Avril Lavigne and Nickelback? WHAT THE FUCK? Just when I was about to cut the Junos some slack for loosening up these past few years and celebrating Canada's vibrant and eclectic alternative/indie music scene, they go out and do this. This is why people hate these stupid awards. Many Canadians see this as a big lovefest for the Canadian recording industry (which it is) and nominating two Christmas albums by two heavyweight international performers in a category that is generally perceived as the most prestigious reinforces that perception. Throwing in the latest garbage from Lavigne and Nickelback is one thing, but nominating a couple of kitsch holiday records might be one of the most arrogant things the Canadian recording industry can do to musicians and music fans in this country.
Making an album is a long and arduous process. It costs a lot of money. The creative work involved is intense and stressful.
Making a Christmas album is a fairly easy process. That's why you see so many performers churn them out for the holidays to make some extra scratch. They don't cost a lot of money, and the creative work is limited since most of the songs are already written.
Nominating these two albums completely demeans the writing and recording process involved with making a full-length album. Fuck you, CARAS.
(It should be noted that this category, like many others, is based partially on sales. Makes a lot of sense now, doesn't it? What is this? Some kind of Canadian Johhhke?)
Snubs: Hey Rosetta! - Seeds, Fucked Up - David Comes to Life, Timber Timbre - Creep on Creepin On, Braids - Native Speaker, good sense and decency.
Predicted Winner: Nickelback - Here and Now. Because why the fuck not?
Artist of the Year
City and Colour
Wow! I think this list of nominees is actually bearable! With the exception of Buble, the field is quite a talented and creative bunch. This won't make up for the Album of the Year debacle, but at least there's nothing to get too upset about here. Although, is City and Colour technically an artist? I understand that it's Dallas Green but isn't City and Colour a group? Maybe? SOMEBODY TELL ME!
Group of the Year
Down With Webster
Well isn't this just the quintessential group of underachievers and overachieving douchebags. I've always enjoyed Sam Roberts, but the guy will never quite live up to his debut, We Were Born in a Flame. The same goes for Arkells and their debut, Jackson Square. Unfortunately, being amongst the top Canadian bands does not ensure you any comfort. Arkells toured the shit out of Jackson Square for about three years and they paid the price for it creatively on 2011's Michigan Left. Similarly, each new Sam Roberts record sounds tired and beaten from constant touring. This is the reality of all Canadian bands, with the exception of the five or six that are able to make significant money from exclusive Canadian success.
In the overachieving douchebag section of the category we have: Down With Webster, who's mix of rap (?) and tween pop-rock makes for a drunken frat boy's wet dream; Hedley, who we all know is a band of perverted dog molesters; and Nickelback, a band that everyone loves.
Snubs: Hey Rosetta!, Fucked Up
Predicted Winner: Hedley. I'm telling you, these fuckers are going to sweep the awards!
New Artist of the Year
I felt a little out of touch when I saw these nominees because I only knew of Dan Mangan (ManGanDanManDanGanDanManDanGanManGanDan) and Diamond Rings. Both are very good artists and are certainly worthy of any awards for their work. A quick Google search revealed that I'm not as out of touch as I thought, maybe, kind of. Both JRDN and Alyssa Reid are your typical Top 40 acts, so they flew under my radar.
But Lindi Ortega? I Wikipedia'd that shit (real journalism at work here) and saw that this girl was a backup singer for Brandon Flowers on his crappy solo tour. I also saw that she is signed to Last Gang records, which is a reputable independent label out of Montreal. Seems like she has potential to be good.
So I checked out her music. MEH.
Snubs: I dunno.
Predicted Winner: Dan Mangan. It's not a very strong field this year, and the pop acts are pretty weak, even for pop acts. Mangan has quite a bit of notoriety in the Canadian music industry so I figure that the cream might actually rise to the top in this category. Really, I don't actually know shit about shit so it could go any way.
New Group of the Year
The Rural Alberta Advantage
Wow, Junos, you guys are all over the place this year. With the exception of the Sheepdogs, all of these bands are wonderful and awesome. I'd just like to know what the Juno definition of "new" is. Hey Rosetta! released their 3rd album in 2011. Both Mother Mother and the RAA released their 2nd albums last year. I recall a few years ago that The Stills won New Group of the Year after releasing their 3rd album and being around for more than 7 years. So what's the fucking deal here? If someone knows what qualifies a band as "new", please tell me. Honestly, I tried to find out what the definition is and I can't find it. Email me or leave a comment.
Snubs: Bachman-Turner Overdrive because I have no idea what "new" means.
Predicted Winner: The Sheepdogs. Why? Because these industry types love super hyped bands that give a shot to the music industry, regardless of quality. But watch out for a BTO write-in.
Alternative Album of the Year
Braids - Native Speaker
Dan ManganManDanGanMan - Oh Fortune
Destroyer - Kaputt
Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
Timber Timbre - Creep On Creepin' On
This is the only category that most of us have any interest in. As I said above, Canadian indie/alternative music took a vacation in 2011, resulting in the somewhat weak field you see above. That being said, these are all solid efforts from solid bands. It's also one of the few categories that Nickelback can't get their greasy fingers on. No complaints here.
Snubs: Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital
Predicted Winner: Fucked Up - David Comes to Life. Probably the best Canadian album released in 2011.
The Junos will air at 8pm on Sunday, April 1 on CTV. CAAAN'T WAIT.