2022 Juno nominees: snubs and surprises
From Polaris winner shutouts to wondering where BadBadNotGood belongs, we break down this year’s list
Award shows are always a bit of a gamble, as they often include surprising names and disappointing misses. With today's 2022 Juno Awards nominees announcement, it's no shock that global superstars Justin Bieber and the Weeknd once again dominate the list of prospective winners. What is pleasantly surprising, though, is that Montreal singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin has bested them for overall nominations, nabbing six where Bieber and the Weeknd have five each, followed by Shawn Mendes with four.
It's all a combination of numbers and jurying, and the results can be unpredictable. So this year, CBC Music producers have dug deep to unearth some of the biggest surprises, and biggest snubs, in the nominee list. Read on for nominations that we're celebrating, shutouts that we're not impressed with and some things that are just plain confusing.
For full coverage of the 2022 Juno Awards, head to CBCMusic.ca/junos.
Polaris winners and shortlisters shut out
The Juno Awards and the Polaris Music Prize are two of Canada's biggest honours, but they don't always share the same nominees. Most notably, the last three Polaris winners — Haviah Mighty (2019), Backxwash (2020) and Cadence Weapon (2021) — have all been snubbed the year of their Polaris win at the Juno Awards. (Mighty does score her first nomination at the Junos this year for her 2021 mixtape, Stock Exchange.)
Looking at Polaris's 10 shortlisted nominees from those same three years, between four and six shortlisters also nabbed Juno nods each year. Those acts have included Jessie Reyez, Pup, Kaytranada, Lido Pimienta, nêhiyawak and Les Louanges. Of the 2021 Polaris shortlisted acts, Mustafa, the Weather Station and Tobi landed nominations this year, leaving out DijahSB, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, the OBGMs and Zoon. (Klô Pelgag's Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs, also on the 2021 Polaris short list, was nominated for francophone album of the year at last year's Junos.)
The biggest difference between these two awards seems to lie in the hip-hop category, as the last three Polaris winners have all been rappers. While both the Junos and Polaris look at the quality of releases, the former is focused more on sales, streaming and mainstream popularity. Since 2019, the Junos have given rap recording of the year to Tory Lanez twice, and nominated various acts multiple times: Nav (four times), 88Glam (three times), Belly (twice), and Killy (twice). None of those names have appeared on a previous Polaris short list. Even Shad, who was most recently up for the Polaris in 2019 for his sixth studio album, A Short Story About a War, and who released an album within this year's Junos cycle that made our list of best albums of 2021, hasn't been recognized by the Junos since 2014.
Certified Lover Boy still makes the cut
Drake, who long ago stopped submitting his work to the Juno Awards for consideration, still technically had his album show up on the list of nominees this year: Wondagurl is nominated for producer of the year, for her work on the Certified Lover Boy track "Fair Trade," featuring Travis Scott. (Wondagurl won the award in the same category last year, which was her first Juno win — and she was the first Black woman to win it.)
Belated recognition of industry favourites
Last year, the Juno Awards split the R&B category into two: traditional R&B/soul and contemporary. The change opened up the playing field for more artists to be nominated in their respective genres, and this year the Junos gave a much-deserved nomination to neo-soul singer Allie for contemporary R&B recording of the year. The Toronto artist has been making standout music for nearly a decade, recently performing a gorgeous set for the Grammy series Positive Vibes Only. Her 2021 album, Tabula Rasa, featured contemporaries River Tiber, Daniela Andrade, Casey MQ and BadBadNotGood's Leland Whitty, and definitely deserves the attention.
Sate, another musical force who's been around for nearly a decade, nabbed her first Juno nomination this year, for alternative album of the year. The Toronto singer-songwriter's searing rock-, punk- and blues-inspired music has deserved a space at the Junos for years, and it's about time that she's landed on the list. Her nomination is for her 2021 album, The Fool, which she told Complex was "a reflection on the risks I take to live fully while experiencing both victory and tumult, and the spaces in between where I learn resilience. Ultimately, this album is for the Fool in all of us."
Where to put BadBadNotGood?
The Juno Awards continue to struggle to find the right category for the music of BadBadNotGood. The group's only nomination was in 2016 for rap recording of the year, but it really is an indie-jazz trio and a popular one at that. Talk Memory belonged among this year's nominated albums.
A pleasant surprise in the jazz department, though, is pianist Dave Restivo's nomination in the jazz group category for his trio's gorgeous Arancina. Restivo has been part of a Juno-winning project in the past — as pianist in the Rob McConnell Tentet — but this is his first nomination as a leader, and it's richly deserved.
New classical changes lead to (mostly) good things
The Junos tweaked their classical categories this year, eliminating the vocal/choral category and basing eligibility on scale and intent rather than instrumentation. Nominees now fall into one of three categories: solo artist, small ensemble or large ensemble. (The fourth category, classical composition of the year, remains unchanged.)
A quick scan of the nominees shows that this was a good decision, with five vocal/choral projects still making the cut.
The biggest snub is the omission of Charles Richard-Hamelin from the solo category. His album of Chopin Preludes positioned him to finally win a Juno Award after missing out on four previous nominations. Thankfully he's nominated in the small ensemble category with Andrew Wan for their record of Beethoven's violin sonatas, a strong contender.
Also snubbed was the Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul for its album Distance, which was recorded under complicated physical-distancing strictures and yet sounds amazing. It's been a favourite on CBC Music since it was released in April 2021.
Finally, with three albums to his credit in 2021, including the powerful Music for Self-Isolation, Frank Horvat deserved a nomination for classical composition of the year. His direct, emotional approach may not yet have the approval of the establishment, but music fans know what they like.
One surprise was the appearance of Collectif9 among the nominees for its album No Time for Chamber Music. It was a favourite when it was independently released back in 2018. Its reissue by Alpha Classics in September 2021 made it eligible for some richly deserved Juno love, which is great to see.
Acclaimed photographer gets recognition as music video director
Norman Wong is best known as a photographer who has created iconic album covers for everyone from Austra (2013's Olympia) to Drake (2018's Scorpion). And while his photography has been celebrated through gallery exhibitions over the years, this year he landed his first Juno nomination for his work as a music video director. He's up for music video of the year for Charlotte Cardin's "Meaningless," a clip that has racked up more than 3.5 million views since its release one year ago. Wong also directed "Sad Girl," another Cardin single from her Juno-nominated album, Phoenix.
Searchlight winners get their due
Two previous CBC Music Searchlight winners earned their first Juno nominations this year: Shawnee Kish and Desirée Dawson.
Kish won CBC Music's annual hunt for Canada's best undiscovered musical talent in 2020 with her song "Building a Wall." Judge Zubin Thakker praised the pop artist for being "fearlessly authentic." Her debut, self-titled EP has now scored her a nomination for contemporary Indigenous artist or group of the year, where she will be up against Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Jayli Wolf, DJ Shub and Adrian Sutherland.
Dawson's Searchlight win was in 2016, and she has since become a CBC favourite with songs like "Wild Heart," "All In" and her winning track, "Hide." She has also participated in the Discovery Song Camp with Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds and the Allan Slaight Juno Master Class. Her 2021 EP, Meet You at the Light, is up for adult contemporary album of the year against Luca Fogale, Mathew V, Serena Ryder and fellow Searchlight alum Tafari Anthony.
Don't miss the 2022 Juno Awards, hosted by Simu Liu, live Sunday, May 15, at 8 p.m ET/5 p.m PT. Tune in on CBC-TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music and CBC Listen, and stream globally on cbcmusic.ca/junos, CBC Music's Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages.