Juno nominees: TikTok stars get noticed

Story by CBC Kids News • 2021-03-10 08:40

The Weeknd leads the pack with 6 nominations

Many Canadian artists have been finding success on platforms like TikTok, and the Juno Awards are taking note.

This year, the fan choice award will include voting on TikTok.

It features a long list of nominees, including big mainstream names like Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes and The Weeknd, as well as newer names like Curtis Waters and Tate McRae.

TikTok helps artists breakthrough

Another category recognizing artists who are making names for themselves in creative ways is breakthrough artist.

Ali Gatie, who is nominated this year for both fan choice and album of the year, was nominated in 2020 for breakthrough artist.

At the time, he was one of only a few nominees whose popularity could be credited to TikTok and social media.

This year, most nominees in the breakthrough category can trace their online popularity to the same apps.

Curtis Waters

Curtis Waters’s song Stunnin’ was not just popular on TikTok, it started its own trend of videos.

TikTok creenshots of Debby Ryan, left and Dixie D'Amelio, right

Actress Debby Ryan, left, and singer Dixie D’Amelio, right, both used Stunnin’ on TikTok. Ryan’s video alone has more than 25 million views. (Image credit: @debbyryan/TikTok, @dixiedamelio/TikTok).

Through its popularity on TikTok, the track became the fastest record from an unsigned artist into Spotify’s flagship playlist, Today’s Top Hits. That’s a big deal in the music industry.


Singer and rapper Powfu, whose song Death Bed has become a TikTok anthem during the pandemic, is also nominated for breakthrough artist.

Screenshot of Powfu death bed music video

The Death Bed music video has racked up more than 300 million views on YouTube. (Image credit: Powfu/YouTube)

Powfu wrote and recorded Death Bed from his own bedroom. Once uploaded, the song took on a life of its own on TikTok.

It’s been featured on millions of TikTok videos and has earned more than a billion plays.

Tate McRae

Joining Waters and Powfu in the breakthrough artist category are Tate McRae, JP Saxe and Ryland James.

McRae’s following across social platforms is impressive.

Tate McRae in the music video for her collaboration with fellow Juno nominee Ali Gatie, Lie to Me (Image credit: Tate McRae/YouTube)

The 17-year-old singer, songwriter and dancer from Calgary has 1.4 million followers on Instagram.

Her song You Broke Me First has been streamed more than 500 million times on Spotify, and the video has been watched 78 million times on YouTube.

JP Saxe

For JP Saxe, social media is a way to connect with fans.

Saxe even held a Valentine’s Day contest last month. The prize? Two private Zoom concerts.

JP Saxe, right, and collaborator Julia Michaels. The couple’s song If the World was Ending was a big hit at the beginning of the pandemic. (Image credit: Elyn Kazarian)

Ryland James

Ryland James, who was also nominated for best pop album, has a smaller following than some of the other artists in the breakthrough category.

Last month, he came out as queer on Twitter and Instagram.

Text of pictured post: Today is the day. There's something I've held inside for a very long time that wants to come out so badly, and now I think it's more important than ever that I just own it. It's very simple and shouldn't even constitute the extra blink of an eye, but somehow it's so scary and strange to say even in this day and age because of my past. I'm queer. That's it. I won't label myself beyond that as I've always been attracted to many different people of different genders throughout my life and feel like no label truly embodies my sexuality fully. I'm just me. - via @rylandjamesmusic Twitter

The Weeknd nabs most nominations

The Weeknd has the most Juno nominations this year with six.

The artist from Toronto performed during this year’s Super Bowl halftime show and his single Blinding Lights recently broke the Billboard Hot 100 record for the longest stay in the Top 10, at 52 weeks.

The Weeknd in red sparkly suit on stage

The Weeknd performing at the Super Bowl earlier this year. (Image credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Following closely behind with five nominations are Jessie Reyez, Justin Bieber and JP Saxe.

Celine Dion received three nominations, taking her record-breaking career total for Juno nominations to 75.

The 2021 Juno Awards will be broadcast nationwide on Sunday, May 16 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBC.

With files from Jackson Weaver/CBC, Jesse Kinos-Goodin/CBC

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