Meet the 10 artists shortlisted for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize
These Canadian musicians will vie for the $50,000 grand prize
The 2019 Polaris short list reveal is today and, as we previously mentioned, we're doing things a little differently this year.
A shortlist nominee will be announced every half hour on CBC Music, starting at 2 p.m. ET. The live radio special will be hosted by Raina Douris and will include introductions to each nominated act and their album as well as interviews with Polaris jurors.
Below, we will update each nominee as they are announced throughout the day. If you missed out on the live announcement, this post will also break down each act and the albums up for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize.
For more coverage of the Polaris Music Prize, go to cbcmusic.ca/polaris. CBC Music will live-stream the Polaris gala on Monday, Sept. 16, so make sure to tune in to find out who is crowned the winner.
Name: Dominique Fils-Aimé
Album: Stay Tuned!
Release date: Feb. 22, 2019
Polaris history: This is Fils-Aimé's first Polaris showing.
About the album: Fils-Aimé's sophomore album, Stay Tuned!, is the second album in a trilogy through which the singer and La Voix semifinalist explores the roots of African-American musical culture. An ambitious, beautiful collection, Stay Tuned! is primarily steeped in jazz and R&B, as Fils-Aimé "delves into the civil rights movement of the '60s," whereas the first instalment of the trilogy, Nameless, leaned more heavily toward blues, inspired by Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise" and the forms of work songs. Fils-Aimé's stunning voice centres Stay Tuned!, with layered harmonies, vocal manipulations and percussive rhythms that carry from hushed tones to bold exclamations. At times joyfully affirmative ("Good Feeling"), at others suspicious and doubtful ("Gun Burial") and yet others part celebratory gospel ("Joy River"), Stay Tuned! is a captivating project.
Recommended if you like: Laura Mvula, Charlotte Day Wilson, Erykah Badu.
Name: Haviah Mighty
Album: 13th Floor
Hometown: Brampton, Ont.
Release date: May 10, 2019
Polaris history: This is Haviah Mighty's first year being long and shortlisted.
About the album: Even though she's been releasing music since 2010, 13th Floor marks Brampton rapper Haviah Mighty's first full-length album. A kinetic energy surges through the album's 13 tracks as Mighty darts through every song with razor-sharp precision. Whether she's delivering a feminist manifesto on "In Women Colour" or dissecting America's history of slavery on "Thirteen," Mighty displays a firm understanding of her identity and turns parts of herself that have been oppressed by others, like her gender or skin colour, and transforms it into her greatest strength. Whether or not this is your first time listening to Mighty's music, this album will hook in you and leave you wanting more.
Recommended if you like: Tierra Whack, Vince Staples.
Album: Le Mal
Hometown: Hull, Que.
Release date: Feb. 25, 2019
Polaris history: This is Fet.Nat's first time appearing on the Polaris long and short list.
About the album: Part punk, part free jazz, part franglais poetry, Le Mal is Fet.Nat's second full-length album. The Hull group incorporates a healthy does of funk into the front half of Le Mal, then turns around and delivers what the band calls a "mirror" effect, filling the back half of the album with MIDI interpretations of the previous songs. The funk groove of "Tapis" is addictive alongside an often orphan-sounding saxophone, while its MIDI version, "Tapis d'Orient," gets a Seinfeld-like slap bass; the impressive rolling drums on "Your World is my Mystery Gift" does not lessen the creep factor of the lines "Your world is my mystery gift/ can we keep it that way?" being delivered with a deadpan, detached tone, and the song's MIDI version doubles down on the latter effect. Le Mal is as catchy as it is challenging, with band members JFNO, Pierre-Luc Clément (guitars), Linsey Wellman (saxophone) and Olivier Fairfield (drums) showcasing their incredible musicianship.
Recommended if you like: BadBadNotGood, Kaytranada.
Album: The Ballad of the Runaway Girl
Hometown: Salluit, Que.; Montreal
Release date: Sept. 14, 2018
Polaris history: This is Elisapie's first time appearing on the Polaris long and short list.
About the album: Elisapie released The Ballad of the Runaway Girl after a six-year break that included having her second child and something that she doesn't classify as depression, but a feeling that would "just get too heavy." After a deep, restorative dive into work by Inuk artists from the '60s and '70s — including material from her uncle's band, Sugluk, as well as big names like Willie Thrasher and Willie Dunn — Elisapie resurfaced. The resulting record from the Salluit, Quebec-born and Montreal-based singer-songwriter is a complex, striking mix of original material and covers of formative Indigenous rock and folk songs, sung in Inuktitut, English and French. Opening track "Arnaq" ("woman" in Inuktitut) is a celebration of women and femininity, while the cover of Thrasher's "Wolves Don't Live by the Rules" finds a beautiful balance between Thrasher's voice and Elisapie's, legend alongside legend-in-the-making.
Recommended if you like: Beyries, Willie Thrasher, Ariane Moffatt.
Name: Les Louanges
Album: La nuit est une panthère
Release date: Sept. 21, 2018
Polaris history: This is Les Louanges' first time appearing on the Polaris long and short list.
About the album: La nuit est une panthère is the debut album from Quebec City artist Vincent Roberge, who goes by the moniker Les Louanges. Combining his lifelong love of hip hop with his studies in jazz, Roberge's album deconstructs those elements and rebuilds them with the addition of even more genres like indie rock and R&B. Together, it coalesces into something brand new: a swirling, sonic universe that maps a young artist's transition from a suburban teenager to a big-city young adult. Les Louanges is part of a rising class of Québécois artists (alongside the likes of previous Polaris shortlist act Hubert Lenoir) that is modernizing the face and sound of francophone music.
Recommended if you like: Anderson Paak, BadBadNotGood.
Album: A Short Story About a War
Hometown: London, Ont.
Release date: Oct. 26, 2018
Polaris history: Shad's last three albums — 2007's The Old Prince, 2010's TSOL and 2013's Flying Colours — have all been shortlisted.
About the album: About the album: A Short Story About a War is a concept album set in a dystopian desert world of Shad's making, but its themes and allegories of violence and peace are heavily rooted in our present-day. Created with the thrice Polaris shortlisted artist's trademark thoughtfulness — and sharpness — this is an album that both pierces and soothes, from the musically joyful "The Fool Part 1 (Get it Got it Good)" ("They can't kill us, 'cause they can't see us, 'cause they only see fear/ get it, got it, good, we're fearless") to the gut-wrenching "The Stone Throwers (Gone in a Blink)" ("Forced to go toe-to-toe, blow for blow/ in a war zone with only stones to throw/ vilified by all sides/ vilified for small crimes"). Featuring guest spots from not one but two former Polaris winners (Katyranada and Lido Pimienta), A Short Story About a War is the concept album we need right now.
Recommended if you like: Common, Chance the Rapper.
Album: Morbid Stuff
Release date: April 5, 2019
Polaris history: This is Pup's second time on the short list. In 2016, the band's sophomore release, The Dream is Over was shortlisted, but lost to Kaytranada's 99.9%. Pup's debut self-titled album was also longlisted in 2014.
About the album: A lot of things have worked in Pup's favour over the past few years: the band has grown its fanbase to pack increasingly bigger venues; its albums have gotten continuous praise from critics; and the bandmates even made their late-night TV debut this year on Late Night With Seth Meyers. But even the most monumental successes can't cure depression, as lead singer Stefan Babcock has learned. Morbid Stuff finds Babcock and his bandmates working through negative thoughts and not conquering them as much as learning to live with them, and perhaps cathartically getting out some frustrations along the way through their relentless brand of punk rock. It's a record meant to feel good for those who oftentimes feel bad, a whirling circle pit where you go to feel safe.
Recommended if you like: The Menzingers, Joyce Manor.
Name: Marie Davidson
Album: Working Class Woman
Release date: Oct. 5, 2018
Polaris history: Davidson's last album, Adieux au dancefloor, was longlisted for the 2017 Polaris Prize.
About the album: "You wanna know how I get away with everything? I work. All the f--king time." These are the first lyrics in "Work It," the second song from Marie Davidson's Working Class Woman, the torment of a self-employed existence. Davidson's last album, Adieux au dancefloor, saw the Montreal producer critiquing club culture and nearly literally saying goodbye to the dancefloor, and with Working Class Woman, Davidson connects that thread to the intense drive (and expectation) to always create — and what that does to your mental health. On "The Psychologist," Davidson has a conversation with a (pointedly male) psychologist to a driving beat, playing with the idea of what it means to be considered crazy, be driven crazy and work like crazy. ("This woman has to go!" screams an angry, disembodied voice in the background.) Davidson's dark humour is razor sharp, and Working Class Woman will have you hooked for repeat listening.
Recommended if you like: Jessy Lanza, St. Vincent, Bjork.
Name: Snotty Nose Rez Kids
Hometown: Kitamaat Village, B.C.
Release date: May 10, 2019
Polaris history: This is Snotty Nose Rez Kids' second consecutive year on the Polaris short list. Last year, they were nominated for their sophomore album, The Average Savage. They ultimately lost to Jeremy Dutcher's Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa.
About the album: Following the success of 2018's The Average Savage, rap duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids planned to cap the year off with one more release titled Rez Bangers and Koolapops, a "summer album where people listen to it far and wide," as member Quentin "Yung Trybez" Nyce told Exclaim!. But, they scrapped that idea in favour of a record that focused on something more urgent happening in their community: the Trans Mountain pipeline being constructed through Indigenous land and destroying, among other things, the traplines that "our people used to live off of." The album that came out of this is aptly titled Trapline, a vital message of resistance that emphasizes the importance of preserving one's home right now, but also for future generations.
Recommended if you like: Public Enemy, Run the Jewels.
Name: Jessie Reyez
Album: Being Human in Public
Hometown: Brampton, Ont.
Release date: Oct. 19, 2018
Polaris history: With no full-length release to her name just yet, both of Reyez's EPs have gotten Polaris recognition. Her first one, Kiddo, was longlisted in 2017, but this year's contender, Being Human in Public, will be her first time making the short list.
About the album: Jessie Reyez's star hasn't stopped rising since she released her 2016 single, "Figures." But last year was when the R&B/pop artist kicked it into high gear: she teamed up with producer Calvin Harris once again to write the smash hit "One Kiss;" she hopped on two Eminem songs; and, somewhere in between all of that, she released her second EP, Being Human in Public. The collection of songs rolled out over the course of months as Reyez put out almost every single individually before compiling it into a record. More so than her previous EP, Reyez's latest serves as a bombastic entry point for newcomers to her music. Being Human in Public displays an incredibly wide range of songs and vocal performances, from wildly belting out choruses to dipping her toes in rap, as Reyez reflects on love with an uncompromising fierceness that's impossible to not pay attention to. If this is what Reyez can pack into an EP — the first one to ever land on the Polaris short list — then expect a quick return to the Polaris ranks when her full-length drops later this year.
Recommended if you like: Alessia Cara, Kehlani.
If you missed out on the radio special, you can listen to each segment below.
Snotty Nose Rez Kids