By Keith Sharp
The reality that Drake only won two minor Grammy Award wins Sunday night at the 59th Grammy Awards, staged at the Los Angeles’ Staples Center when he was nominated in eight categories, including Top Album for `Views’, has many music fans and industry types north of the 49th parallel bemoaning the fact that Canadian artists do not get a fair shake in the Grammy Awards voting process.
The Billboard domination of Drake, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber and to a lesser extent Shawn Mendes and Alessia Cara over the past 12 months certainly wasn’t reflected in this year’s Grammy voting process. Drake claimed two gramaphone awards for his “Hot Line Bling” for Best Rap Song Performance (even thought there is no rap component in the song) and Best Rap Song Production with co-producer Anthony Paul Jeffries – but lost in six other categories including Top Album (which went to Adele’s `Hello’ release).
Mendes and Cara didn’t even receive a Best New Artist nomination while Bieber received just two nominations. Hardly surprising then that both Drake and Bieber passed on the awards ceremony, both claiming conflicts with previously scheduled tour dates; Drake in Manchester, England and Bieber in Mexico.
And it is fair to say that key Canadian artists have been snubbed in recent years. Drake has been nominated a staggering 35 times but has only won on three occasions – no major category wins. The Weeknd has snagged two wins in 2016 from eight nominations while Bieber, for all his global success has only won one Grammy from five nominations, a 2016 win for Best Dance Recording.
Bieber’s biggest snub came at the 2011 Grammy Awards, when despite being the hottest artist on the planet that year, and having performed on the Grammys telecast that evening, he ended up losing the Best New Artist award to jazz musician Esperanza Spalding.
Since the awards inception May 4th 1959, it’s fair to say that winners have been dominated by U.S artists with European artists, influenced by The British Invasion of the early 1960’s also enterting the fray. Yet Canada’s contingent have strugged for recognition and it is understandable, with the voting process being controlled by U.S members of the Grammy voting academy that it would be difficult to barge into voting consideration.
Probably the first Canadian artist to rate serious Grammy consideration was Joni Mitchell who first won a Grammy in 1969 as Top Folk Artist for her album ‘Clouds’. She has since won a total of nine Grammy awards.
Anne Murray was nominated for Best New Artist in 1971 but lost to The Carpenters (Elton John was in the same category). But she then went on to win four Grammys including three for Best Vocal Country Performance between 1974-1983.
Of all the various categories, it has been Canada’s female contingent that have faired best. Surprisingly, Alanis Morissette has the next best record with seven wins in 14 nominations, Celine Dion has won five of 17 nominations, Shania Twain claimed five from 18 nominations and Sarah McLachlan took home three wins from 13 nominations.
Nelly Furtado won one Grammy in seven attempts for her “I’m Like A Bird” single which claimed Best Female Vocal Performance in 2002 but Avril Lavigne has yet to win in eight attempts.
Canadian Men have not faired nearly as well, besides the recent R&B success of Drake and Bieber, Neil Young has only won two Grammys, Leonard Cohen one and Bryan Adams one while the only Canadian group ever to win a Grammy is surprisingly, Montreal’s Arcade Fire who won the 2011 Best Album category for “Suburbs”.
For the record, Rush have been nominated seven times without a win while Nickelback have been up for a Grammy six times without succeeding and The Barenaked Ladies have been nominated twice.
Glass Tiger looked to have a good shot at winning Best New Artist in 1987 but lost out to Bruce Hornsby And The Range while Montreal’s Men Without Hats were up for the same award in 1984 but was beaten by The Culture Club. Corey Hart had a shot at the Best New Artist Award in 1985 but lost to Cyndi Lauper while Crash Test Dummies failed to usurp Sheryl Crow in 1995. The only Canadian born artist to win this award was Robert Goulet back in 1963.