It's shaping up to be a four-horse race at this year's Juno Awards, with Avril Lavigne, Céline Dion, Feist and Michael Bublé all set to compete for several top honours.
Organizers announced the contenders for the upcoming Junos, Canada's most prominent musical honours, in Toronto Tuesday morning. Pop diva Dion scored a leading six nods, with Lavigne, Feist and Bublé close behind at five each.
The chart-topping quartet will duke it out for the coveted best artist trophy, with Pascale Picard rounding out the nominees. The four stars are also in the running for the publicly voted Fan's Choice honour, with Claude Dubois named the fifth contender.
As well, the lead four will vie for the album of the year Juno, with Dion nominated twice, for the French-language D'Elles and the harder-edged Taking Chances; Lavigne for her punk-pop release The Best Damn Thing; indie darling Feist for The Reminder; and smooth crooner Bublé for Call Me Irresponsible.
The best pop album lineup is remarkably similar, including Dion (for Taking Chances ), Feist and Bublé, along with Canadian icon Anne Murray for Duets:Friends and Legends and the reggae-influenced Bedouin Soundclash for Street Gospel.
Competing for best single are Lavigne's Girlfriend, Feist's catchy 1234, Bublé's Everything, Jully Black's hit Seven Day Fool and Paralyzer by rockers Finger Eleven.
Other nominees include:
- New artist: Belly; Jeremy Fisher; Justin Nozuka; Serena Ryder; Suzie McNeil.
- New group: Dragonette; Faber Drive; illScarlett; State of Shock; Wintersleep.
- Songwriter: Avril Lavigne; Daniel Bélanger; Feist; Joel Plaskett; Rufus Wainwright.
- Video: Neon Bible, Arcade Fire; Walls Fall Down, Bedouin Soundclash; C'Mon, Blue Rodeo; Shaketramp, Marianas Trench; Cheer It On, Tokyo Police Club.
- International album: Lost Highway, Bon Jovi; The Dutchess, Fergie; Noel, Josh Groban; Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna; Timbaland Presents Shock Value, Timbaland.
- Adult alternative album: Small Miracles, Blue Rodeo; Goodbye Blue Monday, Jeremy Fisher; Chrome Dreams II, Neil Young; Release The Stars, Rufus Wainwright; No Stranger, Tom Cochrane.
- Classical album, solo or chamber ensemble: Rameau Keyboard Suites, Angela Hewitt; Bach Cello Suites, Jean-Guihen Queyras; Alkan's Concerto for Solo Piano, Marc-André Hamelin; After Reading Shakespeare, Matt Haimovitz; Shostakovich: Complete works for Piano, The Gryphon Trio.
- Classical album, vocal or choral: Samuel Barber Songs, Gerald Finely; Buxtehude: Membra Jesu Nostri, Les Voix Baroques; Surprise, Measha Brueggergosman; Constantinople, The Gryphon Trio.
- Country recording: Moments that Matter, Aaron Lines; Honkytonks and Heartaches, Gord Bamford; Kicking Stones, Johnny Reid; Risk, Paul Brandt; Life is Calling My Name, Shane Yellowbird.
- Francophone album: D'Elles, Céline Dion; L'Homme qui me ressemble, Damien Robitaille; L'Échec du matériel, Daniel Bélanger; De retour a la source, Isabelle Boulay; Vers à soi, Jorane.
- Rock album: Them vs. You vs. Me, Finger Eleven; Hospital Music, Matthew Good; The Lucky Ones, Pride Tiger; Underclass Hero, Sum 41; The Saint Alvia Cartel, The Saint Alvia Cartel.
- R&B/Soul recording: The Birth of Cornelius, Corneille; Ebrahim, Ebrahim; We Can All Be Free, God Made Me Funky; Revival, Jully Black; 2U, Keshia Chante.
- Vocal jazz album: Destination Moon, Deborah Cox; The Very Thought of You, Emilie-Claire Barlow; Holly Cole, Holly Cole; Days Like These, Michael Kaeshammer; Make Someone Happy, Sophie Milman.
Altogether, organizers will present Juno Awards in 39 categories.
Comedian Peters takes the stage
Comedian Russell Peters, best known for his ethnically inspired comedy, was also named host of this year's event on Tuesday.
"This is the first time they've let a non-white host the Junos," Peters quipped at the announcement news conference. "I hope to make it different. Like entertaining."
Award organizers have often turned to musicians and actors to host the ceremony in recent years, with the likes of Nelly Furtado, Shania Twain, Alanis Morrisette, the Barenaked Ladies, Brent Butt and Pamela Anderson having tackled MC duties.
Nominees Feist, Bublé, Lavigne, Murray, Finger Eleven and Measha Brueggergosman are among the artists slated to take the stage to perform on Juno night.
This year's festivities will include several tributes: to Canadian rockers Triumph, who will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, as well as media mogul Moses Znaimer and country star Paul Brandt, receiving special Juno honours for their contributions to the music industry and charitable endeavours, respectively.
The Juno Awards will take place in Calgary on April 6.