Does the Polaris Music Prize matter?
On Monday night, we find out which of the ten shortlisted acts will win the Polaris Music Prize, bragging rights and a giant novelty cheque for $50,000.
The nominees are:
Andy Shauf, The Party
Black Mountain, IV
Carly Rae Jepson, Emotion
Grimes, Art Angels
Jessy Lanza, Oh No
PUP, The Dream Is Over
U.S. Girls, Half Free
White Lung, Paradise
Basia Bulat, Good Advice
The mission of the Polaris Prize is to identify the best album of the year regardless of genre or commercial success. But making surprise picks could also apply.
From Owen Pallet in 2006 to Karkwa in 2010 to Godspeed You Black Emperor in 2013, predicting the winner has been next to impossible. But impossible is nothing, right?
We assembled our Day 6 music panel to take their best shot.
This will be a new annual tradition for me because I've had so much fun listening to all the finalists this week. The one that stands out for me is Kaytranada. His album 99.9% just blew me away. This album pokes holes in what we might think of as electronic dance music, what we've been calling tropical house. He brings liveness and an imperfection and a humanity to this music that can often sound very sanitized and almost antiseptic in its quantized perfection.
A track like "Lite Spots" from this record is a masterclass in sampling. It actually makes me think about the art of sampling in a new way. Kaytranada doesn't just take a sample of Gal Costa's 1976 track "Pontos de Luz" and loop it, but he actually creates a whole new composition, sort of recomposing the original. I think this is visionary music and pretty much the soundtrack to my life right now.
Nate Sloan is a musician, music instructor and co-host of Switched On Pop.
My pick is Paradise by White Lung. This record does everything for me: it's acidic and vulnerable and loud and tender. It paints this incredible portrait of living in one's late 20s and then entering their 30s and questioning everything about their punk rebellion, what it means to grow up, what it means to move on with one's life. Essentially questioning what it means to settle down.
The singer-songwriter Mish Way got married before she wrote this record and says that really impacted a lot of her thoughts towards marriage and what it meant. We all go through that as we get older, particularly that pivot point in your late 20s and early 30s, where you start to do things you always swore you'd never do, but you make it work for you because you realize it doesn't have to be a symbol of something else. I think this record really captures that.
Andrea Warner is the co-host of the "Pop This" podcast and the author of We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the '90s and Changed Canadian Music.
There are a lot of records I really like on this list including Black Mountain's IV and Jessy Lanza's Oh No, but I have to go with my number one album from 2015, Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion - and it's perfect-in-every-way pop. The way that it stuck with me in its thoughtfulness and its devotion to craft and also her ability to turn these phrases that completely represent the emotional spectrum that people go through when they are in love, out of love, falling out of love ... it's one of those records that I keep going back to.
I've seen her live multiple times and I've seen performances of these songs and it's so magical to see the crowds dancing along to "Run Away With Me," to "When I Needed You." It's been so wonderful to see people connect en masse with this record. I think that's a sign of a great pop record and the thoughtfulness that she put into it. It's a great piece of art that really stays with you.
Maura Johnston is a journalism Instructor at Boston College and writer whose work has appeared on Pitchfork Media, the Boston Globe and Rolling Stone Magazine
The Polaris Music Prize celebration will take place at the Carlu in Toronto. It will also be live-streamed courtesy our friends at CBC Music starting at 8 p.m. EDT on Monday night.
To hear the full panel discussion plus our picks for fall music (hint, A Tribe Called Red is on there), click the listen tab at the top of the page.