The most shocking thing about Sunday’s Juno Awards might be how little there was to bitch about after the broadcast. Face it, this wasn’t the usual excruciatingly unhip Junos, and the majority of winners were deserving.
If a sweetly sung four-count triggers a gag reaction it’s only natural. Feist’s megahit, 1234, became the definition of nauseatingly overexposed, thanks to an Apple ad. But you can’t argue that 07 didn’t belong to her, which is why the five-piece hardware sweep (artist, songwriter, pop album, album and single of the year) of all her nominated categories is impossible to begrudge. If anything, we should be thanking the Calgary na-tive, who got the homecoming of a lifetime, for keeping Céline and Avril from any more undue recognition. Plus, she managed to plug the Constantines in one of her acceptance speeches, just in case you thought she was losing her indie cred.
Russell Peters rocked as host.
How refreshing that the Junos cooled on the misguided notion that musicians make engaging award show hosts. (Nelly Furtado fizzled last year, and the less said about Alanis Morissette in 2004 the better). Red-hot comic Russell Peters had his game on tight, zinging Chad Kroeger, deflating the show’s self-importance and even doing some impressive DJ work. Peters’s stock was high to begin with; now it’s through the roof.
Not all was perfect in Juno Land, however. The live performance portion frequently underwhelmed. There was Avril Lavigne sleepwalking through bubble-gum hit Girlfriend, croon king Michael Bublé winking and mugging through Everything, Anne Murray robotically performing an off-key Snowbird with Jann Arden and Sarah Brightman, and a grimace-inducing orchestra collab with Juno regulars and rock album winners Finger Eleven, the biggest band in Canada that no one actually likes.
Picking up the slack were rousing sets by Jully Black, Feist, who avoided her hit in favour of Sea Lion, and vocal powerhouse Measha Brueggergosman, who snagged the classical album: vocal honours.
The Arcade Fire juggernaut fulfilled expectations by grabbing the alternative album statue. A braver choice would have been Calgary-born noms Tegan and Sara, twin sisters who soared last year internationally while their underrated album The Con slept on in Canada. Hopefully, they’ll get their due in the near future.
Blue Rodeo took home group of the year honours one day after they picked up adult alternative album of the year for Small Miracles and video of the year for C’mon at the Juno gala dinner.
Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees Triumph kept to their arena-rock ways by pandering to easy applause with a Jarome Iginla jersey. Curiously, the metal trio didn’t perform, though maybe that’s a positive.
A category in dire need of an overhaul, as exemplified by this year’s ambivalence and out-of-touch nominees list, is dance record of the year. Chromeo, one of the biggest electro-funk groups in the world right now, who recently played Madison Square Garden, lost out to ex-Nylon Billy Newton-Davis?! This year’s Junos show was better than average, but there’s still work to be done.