Asked to explain their methods of organizing the Juno Awards, CARS representatives had the following view:
the Junos are meant to be a snapshot of all of Canada’s vibrant musical industry, commercial and acclaimed, inclusive rather than exclusive.
If I had been drinking something at this point, it would have been spurting out my nose. Commercial and acclaimed are not the same thing, the Junos may be the only awards show to challenge the Billboard or American Music Awards for inclusiveness in major categories, and how exactly it can be a snapshot of the entire industry with so few…ah, it isn’t even worth it.
The Juno Award nominations were announced yesterday, and I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t notice. There were only two minutes left in the day when I spotted the new blurb at the Globe and Mail, and I marveled at this fact. Have these awards, Canada’s most widely viewed and publicized, fallen off of the cultural radar of even I? Cultural Learnings has been leaning to the TV side of things, but is this because of my personal tendencies or a lack of interesting news on the music side of things? Either way, the Juno Award nominations are out, and to answer our title question…not really.
You see, the Juno Awards will be forever plagued by ignorance to any sort of quality standard within the Canadian recording industry, no matter what CARAS representatives spout out. The three main categories (Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Group of the Year) all contain nominees selected entirely based on album sales, as opposed to, you know, quality. It’s always been a point of great contention, and in recent years it has especially drawn the ire of the “Indie music fans.” Really, this just means people with common sense, but let’s go with the rhetoric for a second.
When Sam Roberts won the Juno for Album of the Year a few years back, one had to remember that he was only in the category due to a statistical error. Based on album sales, he didn’t belong there. Just last year, the category rules meant that Diana Krall’s Christmas album found itself up for the show’s top prize. What does that say about the state of Canadian music?
Let’s look at a category decided through these practices, and how it looks compared to one decided by rational individuals and not the consuming public.
Album of the Year
Loose – Nelly Furtado
II – Billy Talent
One-X – Three Days Grace
Hedley – Hedley
I Think of You – Gregory Charles
Yes, these are the highest selling albums of the year. Yes, one of these five must win the award for the best album released in Canada in the past year. Yes, this is the third (I think) straight year a Canadian Idol contestant has broken into this category (Jacob Hoggard leads Hedley, finished 3rd in Season two). We’ve got Charles who has sold an insane amount of albums in Quebec, and both Billy Talent and Nelly Furtado blew up in terms of album sales.
But honestly, Three Days Grace? That is simply an embarrassment.
Now, to an award not decided by a panel:
Rock Album of the Year
II – Billy Talent
Tomorrow Starts Today – Mobile
Chemical City – Sam Roberts
Never Hear The End Of It – Sloan
World Container – The Tragically Hip
Wow, some variety! One newer band (Mobile and Stabilo fought it out to the one-hit wonder death, and Mobile won), some old and some new…there’s variety! Sloan’s fantastically epic album, Sam’s sophomore success…there’s actually some good, interesting albums here. Why aren’t they in the above category? Because they didn’t sell as many copies as Three Days Grace.
I can’t take the Junos seriously, and I can honestly say I care very little about their outcome based on these nominees. I mean, really, IL DIVO is nominated for Best International Album, and it doesn’t help that the awards are being held on April 1st. There are some interesting stories (Eva Avila vs. Melissa O’Neill in the Best New Artist category is quite fantastic), but where’s the hook? There’s no category that instills a sense that they know what makes good music, and in some cases they’re not even trying.
Here’s a link to the PDF with all of the nominations (Boo to you, Junos, for not including a text file) for all those interested. I’m thinking that the number will be dwindling with time.