Whether you're into pop, jazz or classical, celebrate Junos nominees with these playlists
Chris Picks Music is a playlist of songs that have aired on CBC Radio's Morning Edition
This piece was originally published on March 12, 2020.
If you don't normally mark the Junos as an event on your calendar, then I'm here to tell you that you should.
I've created three playlists to help you get into your Juno mood, whichever way you lean, be it pop, classical or jazz.
Juno you like pop
This is a binge-worthy playlist featuring over four hours of music from 66 Juno-nominated artists and acts representing the more popular side of things.
Alessia Cara gets this playlist started with an acoustic version of her song "Growing Pains." The 23-year-old has the most award nominations this year with six, including album, artist and songwriter of the year. For all of her hard work this year I'm giving her two songs on this playlist. The second is "Out of Love," which is nominated for single of the year.
Folk-bluegrass group The Dead South, based out of Regina, are nominated once again for traditional roots album of the year, which they won previously in 2018. To mark this occasion, I've added one of their newer tunes called "Diamond Ring" to the playlist.
The Dead South were asked to perform a song in a CBC Music Junos 365 Session and chose Anne Murray's "Could I Have This Dance."
Indigenous artist iskwē fuses electro-pop and alternative rock elements with sounds from her Cree and Métis ancestry. Nominated for alternative album of the year, her latest is called acākosīk, which is the Cree word for "the stars." It relates to the idea, in Cree culture, of having descended from the star people. "The Unforgotten," featured on the playlist, features iskwē alongside another Indigenous music luminary, Tanya Tagaq.
Singer Lauren Spencer-Smith is having one of those extended moments when everything seems to be coming together. Last April, a YouTube video of her singing Lady Gaga's "Always Remember Us This Way," recorded while riding with her dad in a truck, garnered over two million views. Then, she recorded a two-volume live album set at Nanaimo, B.C.'s Port Theatre, which has now earned her a Juno nomination. As if this wasn't already enough, the 16-year-old auditioned for American Idol, where she provided an audition that left the judges stunned. She made it through to the next round of auditions. So, from her Juno-nominated album Unplugged, Vol. 1 I've included her breathtaking cover rendition of "Always Remember Us This Way."
It has 33 years between studio albums for the band Northern Haze, the Inuktitut folk rock band from Igloolik, Nun. In 2015, the record label Aakuluk Music, based out of Iqaluit came into being, providing more opportunity for the rest of us Canadians to hear artists from the North — including Northern Haze, who have now been nominated for a Juno Award. From the band's latest album called Siqinnaarut, which means "return of the sun," I've included a song called "Umiaq," which translates to "boat."
I end off this playlist with the track "Moving On" from Leonard Cohen's posthumous album Thanks for the Dance.
Juno you like Jazz
This playlist contains music from 10 nominees and highlights some of the best instrumental jazz up for awards this year. My suggestion is that you should have this playlist rolling while cooking yourself something good to eat tonight. No matter what you're serving, it will taste better with jazz.
Leading off this playlist is a track called "Plus tôt" from Alexandra Stréliski, whose boundary-crossing album Inscape has earned her three Juno nominations.
I end this playlist featuring a track called "Four Brothers" from 85-year-old jazz trumpeter Al Muirhead off his Juno-nominated album Undertones. Muirhead was born in Regina in 1935 and played trumpet with the Regina Symphony Orchestra as well as taking on duties as the assistant conductor of the Regina Police Boy's Band. It wasn't until he was in his eighties, in 2016, that he received his first Juno nomination.
Juno you like classical
This playlist features music from the classical repertoire of some of this country's most accomplished virtuoso performers, ensembles and orchestras.
This is the music of Chopin, Handel and Rimsky-Korsakov performed by Canada's National Arts Centre orchestra and Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. There's Ludwig van Beethovan interpreted by the likes of 11-time Juno and two-time Grammy Awards winner James Ehnes on violin or 24-year-old piano virtuoso and Juno winner Jan Lisiecki.
I've included a selection composed by Nadia Boulanger performed by Marina Thibeault and Marie-Ève Scarfone from their album called Elles. It features exclusively the works of female composers.
I end with some challenging new music from Ensemble Paramirabo. This is some interesting stuff and it's every bit as captivating an experience as a good suspense movie would be in theatre.