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- Posted on Jul 17th 2012 2:40PM by Joshua Ostroff
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The latter, of course, has become an issue this year with Drake, one of the world's biggest pop stars -- a former child-star who boast-raps he's "25 sitting on 25 Mil" on bonus cut "The Motto" off Take Care. His latest album has earned outsized critical acclaim and commercial success alongside a corresponding backlash.
Last time he was Polaris eligible, Thank Me Later didn't even make the 40 album long list. This time, the Toronto rapper-slash-singer swagged his way onto the short list alongside nine nominees who similarly demonstrate the depth and breadth of Canada's modern music scene.
Grimes' Visions and Japandroids' Celebration Rock are 2012 buzziest indie releases at home and abroad, despite their vast sonic differences. Both are also all but guaranteed spots on December year-end lists and are arguably the front-runners this time out considering the general preference of music critics for the new and exciting. (Neither are "new," per se, but these are big breakout record for both the Montreal-honed avant-pop star and the Vancouver-raised noise-rock duo.)
- Cadence Weapon - Hope in Dirt City
- Cold Specks - I Predict a Graceful Expulsion
- Feist - Metals
- Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
- Grimes - Visions
- Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital
- Japandroids - Celebration Rock
- YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN - YY // ST
- Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur
- Drake - Take Care
- Canada Day Music Appreciation Gallery
- Arcade Fire's Politics
- Leonard Cohen's Endurance
- Feist's Rainbow Connections
- Deadmau5's Honesty
- Drake's Crew Love
- Justin Bieber's Potential
- Maestro Fresh Wes' Backbone
- Metric's Independence
- Michael Buble's Attitude
- Neil Young's Influence
- Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap
- Couer De Pirate's Split-Popularity
- Rufus Wainwright's Flair
- Spirit of the West's "Home For a Rest"
- Stompin' Tom Connors' Existence
- The Tragically Hip's American Obscurity
Former winners Fucked Up made a return engagement to the short list with their hardcore opera David Comes to Life, leading to yet another round of consternation amongst editors and broadcasters over whether or not they can even say the band's name.
Less controversial in both name and sound are Kathleen Edwards and Feist. Though the latter is coming off a trio of Juno Award wins, including best adult alternative album (whatever that means) and artist of the year, Metals is by no means her commercial or critical peak. Edwards, however, has released the biggest and best album of her career -- thanks in part to Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, her ace producer-slash-boyfriend who helped Edwards realize her early potential on Voyageur.
Edmonton rapper (and ex-poet laureate) Cadence Weapon returns to the short list after his debut, Breaking Kayfabe, earned a spot in the Polaris Prize's inaugural 2006 edition before losing to Final Fantasy's He Poos Clouds.
The list is rounded out by two unexpected newcomers, doom-soul singer Cold Specks who has broken out in the UK but remains a relatively unknown commodity on this side of the pond, and experimental rockers Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, a little-known but rather beloved band famed for their theatrical live shows.
So who are we missing? Leonard Cohen earned a top three spot on the pop charts in Canada, the US and the UK, but Old Ideas didn't make the short list. Canada's sweetheart Dan Mangan failed to make the cut with his Arts & Crafts album Oh Fortune, forcing him to settle for the undying love of pretty much every girl in the country.
Coeur de Pirate, a proper pop star in Quebec and Europe but an indie it girl in the rest of North America, failed to make the short list for Blonde, her second album to do so. There was a quartet of Quebec female singers on this year's long list, which may have resulted in vote-splitting, seeing as how none made the short list.
Retro-futuristic house quartet Azari & III also missed a spot, leaving the list without a single electronic act during a year that has seen EDM take over music to an almost unprecedented degree.
But while there will always be deserving albums missing from a list such as this, one would be hard-pressed to complain overmuch about the 10 album that did make it, considering how incredibly different sounding but similarly well-crafted they are.
As Polaris Prize founder Steve Jordan said before revealing the ten nominees, "the shortlist is like a litter of kittens -- you can't favour one over another. But this was a particularly attractive litter of kittens."
Polaris Prize Short List:
Cadence Weapon – Hope in Dirt City
Cold Specks – I Predict a Graceful Expulsion
Drake – Take Care
Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
Feist – Metals
Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
Grimes – Visions
Handsome Furs – Sound Kapital
Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – YT//ST