By Keith Sharp
It’s virtually a standard practice for live broadcasts to feature the disclaimer, ”this show may contain scenes of nudity and coarse language.” But I am certain organizers of the 52nd Juno Awards staged at Edmonton’s Rogers Centre could not have possibly predicted such a warning would have come into play so early in Monday’s telecast.
Yet as four-time Fan Vote Juno winner Avril Lavigne was in the process of introducing Victoria-based AP Dhillon to perform his history-making “Summer High” song in his native Punjabi language, a topless young lady hopped on stage with “Save The Green Belt” and “Land Back” slogans written on her back in an apparent reference to Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s redevelopment policies.
In true Sk8er Boi fashion, Lavigne confronted the miscreant, ordering her “to get the fuck off the stage” before she was led away by security, A colourful beginning to what proved to be a fast-paced broadcast by CBC and Insight Productions, featuring the presentation of just five JUNO awards but plenty of live performances while at the same time presenting a spotlight on Alberta talent.
Hosted again by “Shang-Chi” Simu Liu, Calgary’s 19-year-old Tate McRae opened the show with “She’s All I Wanna Be,” which showed off both her singing and dancing prowess, Grande Prairie’s Tenille Townes won the Top Country Music Award for `Masquerades’ and even Walt Grealis Special Achievement inductee, top agent/promoter Ron Sakamoto is a long-time Lethbridge native. But the night’s focus was on another bunch of Albertans; Hanna natives Nickelback who were inducted into Canada’s Music Hall Of Fame and concluded the evening with a rousing three-song medley which featured “Rock Star,” “How You Remind Me” and “Animals.”
Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds provided an on-camera salute to the band. Still, the night’s biggest cheer was reserved for Edmonton Oilers hockey star Connor McDavid, who presented the band’s Juno on stage.
“Before we say anything, how badass is it to be in Edmonton and have the best hockey player in the world right now give this award to us,” noted frontman/guitarist Chad Kroeger.
Another show highlight was Canada’s salute to 50 years of Hip Hop with Kardinal Offishall and last year’s Rap winner Haviah Mighty providing a commentary on the history of Rap in this country before Offishall performed “Jamaican Funk” with Michie Mee, The Dream Warriors followed with “My Definition Of A Bombastic Jazz Style,” Choclair performing “Let It Ride,” and Nigeria-born TOBI singing “Flowers” before being presented with Rap Juno album for `Shall I Continue’
Aside from AP Dhillon’s Punjabi language performance, another multi-cultural moment was achieved when Sandy Lake Nation indigenous artist Aysanabee performed “We Were Here” with the Northern Cree Dance Circle,
JUNO’s big winner was The Weeknd, who followed up his Saturday night hall of four JUNOS for (Songwriter, Top Album and Top Pop Album for Dawn FM and Top Single for “Sacrifice,” taking him to a total of 22 JUNO wins (one more than Bryan Adams and three short of Anne Murray’s total of 25 but some crowd members jeered him for failing to appear ‘live’ or even post a video thank you for winning his fifth award for Top Artist Monday.
Other top winners were Hamilton’s Arkells, who won their record sixth Group Of The Year award, The Breakthrough Artist Award went to Timmins’ native Preston Pablo and the Breakthrough Group award went to Montreal duo Banx & Ranx,
Top Rock Album was awarded to Alexisonfire (who made their first live performance in 16 years) for their ‘Otherness’ release. Top International Album went to Harry Styles for his `Harry’s House’.
Next year’s Juno Awards will be staged in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
For a complete list of the 2023 Juno Award winners, please link to www.junoawards.ca/