The 2019 Juno Awards, staged Sunday at London’s Budweiser Gardens may have evolved into a showcase for new talent but it was the hosting stint by Sarah McLachlan and the (long overdue) inducting Corey Hart in The Canadian Music Hall Of Fame which gave the event credibility.
McLachlan proved to be a polished host and provided one of the two-hour shows highlights by performing “Beautiful Girl” and ‘In Your Shoes”, supported by Whitehorse and select members of her own School Of Music.
Yet it was the return of Montrealer Corey Hart who stole the show, delivering an emotional speech as he received Hall Of Fame Award and then closing the telecast with “Never Surrender” from his “Boy In The Box” release, and a rousing “Sunglasses At Night” with everyone in the front rows of the 7,000 audience donning sunglasses.
“I believe that music and love are the most enduring and powerful forces of good in the world,” noted an emotional Hart. “Without music or The Junos, I would not have met m precious wife Julie Masse (whom he met at the 1993 Junos in Toronto). “And without love, I could never have experienced the miracle of cradling in my arms my four precious babies, India, Dante, Rain and River, who are all here tonight, all grown up, Daddy is very proud of you all. As a songwriter, I can honestly say that those are the greatest songs that I will ever write.”
Hart, who will kick of his 16-date Never Surrender Tour May 31st in St John’s Newfoundland and concluding June 25th at the Rogers Centre in Vancouver (Glass Tiger is the opening act) also had a shout out for his fans who are obviously still with him despite an almost 20-year performance absence.
“Without you, my songs would have no home,” they would leave me unrequited and empty so I thank you from the bottom of my heart (or is that Hart!)” as he reminded fans that he would be back in the Budweiser Gardens June 8th as part of his tour.
Hart’s fan comments were also cited by Jessie Reyez who received her R&B/Soul recording for “Being In Human In Public” from Humanitarian Award winner David Foster and the night’s surprise presenter, Sting, there to plug his Lost Ship play currently being performed at Toronto’s Royal Alex Theatre.
“To quote Mr Hart, without Y’all, there’s no home for my songs,” noted Reyez. “And it’s such a beautiful line because it’s true. None of this is possible without your support.
As for the awards distribution, Pickering’s Shawn Mendes continues his world dominance by claiming five of six possible nominations (Single Of The Year (for “In My Blood”), Artist Of The Year, Songwriter of The Year, Pop Album of the Year and Album Of The Year (both for `Shawn Mendes’) but strangely lost The Fan Choice Award to an absent Avril Lavigne? He wasn’t in attendance, due to being on a European tour but did turn in a videotaped performance of “In Your Blood” for the telecast.
Hamilton’s Arkells were the only other double winner claiming Top Rock Album (Rally Cry) and Group Of The Year which they capped off with a rousing live performance of “Hand Me Downs”.
John Brunton’s Insight Productions again delivered a high gloss telecast which kicked off with a strong local theme, London’s Loud Luxury (with Brando) performing “Body” amidst a sea of Western Mustang Marching Band members and cheerleaders. Indigenous and Francophone representation was present with colourful performances by Jeremy Dutcher (“Sakomavit”) and Hubert Lenoir’s mime costume appearance for his intro to Coeur du Pirate (with Loud’s) performance of “Dans La Nuit”
Otherwise, the show was all about showcasing new talent with Break Through Artist winner, bülow, rap artist, NAV, Tyler Shaw, country music duo, The Reklaws and Adult Contemporary Album winner Bahamas all receiving major national exposure.
Established stars; Blues album winner Colin James, Adult Contemporary winner Michael Buble were shunted to Saturday’s Gala Dinner Awards and without the likes of Drake (who continues to boycott the awards), Weeknd, Alessia Cara or even The Trews or Sheepdogs who could have given the show a more rock-oriented injection, the Junos continue to be handicapped by a lack of star presence, which I am sure must adversely effect CBC viewer ratings.
Below are the main award winners:
Juno Fan Vote – Avril Lavigne
Album Of The Year – `Shawn Mendes’ – Shawn Mendes
Single Of The Year – “In My Blood” – Shawn Mendes
International Album Of The Year – beerbongs & bentleys – Post Malone
Artist Of The Year – Shawn Mendes
Group Of The Year – Arkells
Breakthrough Artist Of The Year – bülow
Breakthrough Group Of Year – Washboard Union
Songwriter Of The Year – Shawn Mendes (“Lost In Japan” “In My Blood”)
Country Album Of Year – “We Were That Song” – Brett Kissel
Adult Alternative Album Of The Year – `Earthtones’ – Bahamas
Alternative Album –`Baby Teeth’ – Dizzy Royal Mountain
Pop Album Of The Year – `Shawn Mendes’ – Shawn Mendes
Rock Album Of The Year –`Rally Cry’ – Arkells
Rap Recording Of The Year –`Love me NOw – Tory Lanez
Dance Recording Of The Year –`Body’ – Loud Luxury
R&B/Soul Recording Of The Year –`Being Human In Public’ – Jessie Reyez
Blues Album Of The Year –`Miles To Go’ – Colin James
Metal/Hard Music Album Of The Year –`The Wake’ – Voivod
Adult Contemporary Album Of The Year – ‘Love’ – Michael Buble
Canadian Music Hall Of Fame – Corey Hart
Humanitarian Award – David Foster