Canada’s biggest night in music unfolds Sunday in Regina, with Fan Choice nominee Michael Bublé as host and leading Juno Award nominee Carly Rae Jepsen one of the star performers.
The Juno Awards have celebrated the best in Canadian music for 42 years and this year took the show to Regina where the stars to perform are prominent names in the pop and rock firmament – among them Saskatoon band The Sheepdogs, Montreal’s Metric, Toronto’s Serena Ryder and Billy Talent, and Vancouver’s Hannah Georgas and Marianas Trench.
Conspicuously absent is Justin Bieber, who is currently touring Europe, but is still a contender for four prominent awards, including the fan-voted Fans’ Choice Award and artist of the year.
Jepsen, the Mission, B.C. singer who owes her worldwide success in part to a tweet from Bieber, has five nominations. Her breakout hit Call Me Maybe is up for single of the year and she’s in the running for best pop album and best album for Kiss, the album she recorded with Bieber’s label.
Rush, Leonard Cohen nominated
Other Canadians with multiple nominations include Céline Dion, Leonard Cohen, Kathleen Edwards and Rush, who were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday. Rush’s album Clockwork Angels is nominated for best rock album and the band for best group.
Most of the awards in the classical, jazz and alternative music categories are presented Saturday night. The Sunday gala focuses on a few high-profile Juno categories.
Some newcomers may be stepping up to the stage for the first time — among them Walk Off the Earth, the group who had a YouTube hit with their version of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know, with all five of them playing the same guitar at once.
The Burlington, Ont., group with two Juno nominations is among the Canadian artists who are reaching new audiences over the internet and could benefit from a change the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences is considering in how it chooses nominees.
Social media popularity at the Junos
Categories like Junos Fan Choice Award already reflect the power of social media, as nominees such as Metric, Deadmau5 and, of course, Bieber, were chosen in part by Nielsen Buzzmetrics, a system that measures the artist's popularity through social media hits. With sales of music falling, even with the rising popularity of digital tracks, CARAS is looking to more input from social media in its nomination processes.
"We're constantly reassessing, observing the marketplace, adjusting to it, making changes, so the rise of social media obviously can't be denied," says Kim Cooke, a member of the CARAS nomination board.
Other newcomers include breakthrough artist nominees Cold Specks, and The Weeknd, and breakthrough group nominees Yukon Blonde and Hey Ocean!
Every Juno Awards has its surprises, ranging from unusual winners to performance highlights to touching speeches.
Honour for k.d. lang
The 2013 edition also will feature a tribute and performance by eight-time Juno winner k.d. lang, who is to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
Lang, now living in Portland, Ore., is an Edmonton native who is to be honoured for an innovative career that has gone from country-rock to contemporary and back to country in the past 30 years.
Another pioneer to be honoured is Tom Cochrane, who receives the 2013 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award on Saturday for his involvement in a variety of charities. Cochrane, known for his hit Life is a Highway, has worked with World Vision and charities involved in Parkinson’s research and tsunami relief, as well as entertaining troops in Afghanistan.
The Juno Awards gala is to be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday.