Josh Ostroff, AOL
The latter are a reminder of how ridiculous the Juno Awards used to be. They were often called the Canadian Grammys -- except there was rarely any crossover between the nominees lists -- and the Junos inability to recognize the surging early-2000s indie scene inspired the creation of the Polaris Prize to award the actual best Canadian album. Sales were all that mattered for the big awards which prized quantity over quality.
Of course, sales still matter -- the top awards remain restricted to artists who pass certain quotas -- but the difference is that, for the most part, the best Canadians are also major sellers. As well, the alternative categories now read like a Polaris shortlist -- not to mention reading like many New York music critics' year-end lists.
A few weeks back we wrote about 2011 being the year Canadian music broke, referencing an old alt-rock doc but also talking about how Canadian artists had broken out across all genres, from pop and hip-hop to alternative and adult contemporary to dance and rock.
And these Juno nominations -- alongside Sunday's Grammys awards -- simply proves our point, even if Justin Bieber and Michael Buble's best album nominations for their Christmas records denied more deserving nominees of the spotlight.
- Avril Lavigne
- Justin Bieber
- City and Colour
- Coeur de Pirate
- Dan Mangan
- Diamond Rings
- F---ed Up
- Kardinal Offishall
- The Chemical Brothers -- 'Don't Think' Concert Film
- 12 Artists Who Bombed on SNL
- Sinead O'Connor, October 3, 1992
- Ke$ha, April 17, 2010
- Cypress Hill, October 2, 1993
- Coldplay, October 25, 2008
- The Go-Gos, November 14, 1981
- Frank Zappa, October 21, 1978
- Britney Spears, October 13, 2003
- Laura Branigan, December 4, 1982
- Kanye West, December 13, 2008
- Linkin Park, February 5, 2011
- Taylor Swift, January 10, 2009
- Ashlee Simpson, October 23, 2004
Deadmau5, however, may be the biggest surprise. Sure, it was a breakout year for the mouse-headed superstar DJ, and he's won the best dance recording Juno for the past four (!) years in a row, but for him to leap into the Best Artist and Fan Choice categories is as big a deal for electronic dance music as his selling out of Toronto's Rogers Centre football stadium or being the only anglo Canadian to go platinum this year.
He landed another dance nod, too, for the single 'Aural Synapse,' but was a no-show in the second year of the new Best Electronic Album category. But that category, too, shows the strength of the scene with a killer list including international house stars (and possible Madonna opening act) Azari & III, critically acclaimed dark electro act Austra, techno breakout Arthur Oskan, experimentalist Tim Hecker and electro-pop perennials Junior Boys.
Drake was a more expected presence, especially after coming up empty-handed last year despite hosting. With his stronger 'Take Care' album on offer, the Toronto rapper claimed nominations for Best Album, Artist, Rap Recording and Fan Choice. He notably did not get a nod for best single or best songwriter, but his irreplaceable beatsmith Noah '40' Shebib did land a well-deserved best producer nod.
The Best Alternative category was as strong as ever, with nominations for Braids, Dan Mangan, Timber Timbre, Destroyer and F---ed Up while Adult Alternative claimed Feist, who also scored Artist of the Year as well as nods for Songwriter of the Year, album art and best DVD. She was joined in adult alternative by Cuff the Duke, Jenn Grant, Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy and Ron Sexsmith.
Avril snuck into best pop based, presumably, on name recognition considering how well her last album was received but luckily Lights landed in there, too, with her fantastic sophomore album 'Siberia' which he recorded with Holy F---.
Other highlights were Diamond Rings scoring a best new artist nod, Coeur de Pirate claiming a best francophone album nomination (though she really should have made it into the pop or alternative categories, too) and Montreal's much-respected klezmer rapper So-Called getting a world music shout-out.
In fact, the only major Canadian artist missing was the Weeknd -- whose 'House of Balloons' we picked as the second best album of 2011 -- but I guess that's how much respect the industry has for someone who gives their music away for free.
The Juno Awards 2012 air Sunday, April 1, from Ottawa Scotiabank Place. Tickets go on sale Friday, Feb. 10, at 10AM EST.