Downie Tribute Dominates Juno Telecast. But Where Is The Star Power??


By Keith Sharp

A Tribute to former Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie proved to be the heart and soul of Sunday’s 2018 Juno Awards staged at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena. Downie won three posthumous awards as Artist Of The Year, Alternative Album Of The Year for his “Introduce Yerself” release and Songwriter Of The Year with Kevin Drew.

Setting up the evening’s highlight, a live performance of TTH’s “Bobcaygeon” by Dallas Green and Sarah Harmer and a moving instrumental rendition of “Introduce Yourself” by Barenaked Ladies’ keyboardist Kevin Hearn.

It was great to see Steven Page back with The Barenaked Ladies to celebrate the band’s induction into Canada’s Music Hall Of Fame with stirring performances of “If I Had 100,000 Dollars” (with Andy Creegan also back in the lineup) and a “One Week” performance that also pulled the likes of Jim Cuddy and Jan Arden on stage.

Yet, even though Montreal’s Arcade Fire launched the evening with an instrumental rendition of “Everything Now”, and Michael Buble proved to be a personable host on his home turf (also combining with Dianna Krall) for a rendition of “L-O-V-E”, the Juno Awards continue to gravitate towards promoting new talent while failing to attract the country’s superstar talent who fail to win Juno Awards even though their sales totally dwarf those of artists who won Sunday night.

Ask any Canadian on the street who are this country’s top recording artists and they will say Drake, Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Nickelback or Johnny Reid, Shawn Mendes or Alessia Cara. Yet despite most of the above mentioned artists releasing albums in 2017, only Mendes (who did not attend the show) was awarded with two Junos (and one of them was the Juno Fan Favourite award). It’s hardly surprising that these artists do not patronize the Junos (unless they are being inducted into the hall of fame!).

Great that Lights’` Skin & Earth’ album was voted Top Pop Album but it’s success pales in comparison to Shania Twain’s `Now’ which was totally ignored. Same with The Glorious Son’s Rock Album win for their “Young Beauties and Fools” release. Good guys, decent album but there’s no way it beats releases by Nickelback or Big Wreck (factoring in the Hedley pulled out of consideration).

And one has to ask oneself, what demographic are the Junos aiming at! It’s a given that Rap/R&B is the dominant music for today’s youth, yet only one award was handed out to Daniel Caesar (top R&B/Soul) and one Rap Award to Tory Lanez- no Drake, no Weeknd?

Country Music has been described as `The New Pop Music’ yet the Junos only awarded one award to The James Barker Band. No Dallas Smith, no Meghan Patrick, no Brett Kissell, no Road Hammers – no Shania Twain. It’s hardly surprising then that the Canadian Country Music Awards telecast provides a much more appealing and much better supported array of talent.

As a summation, unless CARAS can somehow find a way to entice this country’s top talent back to a show that supposedly honours Canada’s top performers, The Juno Awards will continue to be come less relevant and the show’s television ratings will slide accordingly.



Juno Fan Choice Award

  • Winner: Shawn Mendes

Single of the year

  • Winner: Shawn Mendes, “There’s Nothing Holdin’ me Back”

Album of the year

  • Winner: Arcade Fire, Everything Now

Artist of the year

  • Winner: Gord Downie

Group of the year

  • Winner: A Tribe Called Red


Breakthrough artist of the year

  • Winner: Jessie Reyez​

Breakthrough group of the year

  • Winner: The Beaches

Songwriter of the year

  • Winner: Gord Downie and Kevin Drew: “A Natural,” “Introduce Yerself,” “The North” (Gord Downie, Introduce Yerself)


Country album of the year

  • Winner: James Barker Band, Game On

Adult alternative album of the year

  • Winner: Gord Downie, Introduce Yerself

Alternative album of the year

  • Winner: Alvvays, Antisocialites

Pop album of the year

  • Winner: Lights, Skin & Earth

Rock album of the year

  • Winner: The Glorious Sons, Young Beauties and Fools

Vocal jazz album of the year

  • Winner: Diana Krall, Turn up the Quiet

Jazz album of the year: solo

  • Winner: Mike Downes, Root Structure​​

Jazz album of the year: group

  • Winner: David Braid, Mike Murley, Anders Mogensen & Johnny Aman, The North​​

Instrumental album of the year

  • Winner: Do Make Say Think, Stubborn Persistent Illusions

Francophone album of the year

  • Winner: Daniel Bélanger, Paloma

Children’s album of the year

  • Winner: Fred Penner, Hear the Music

Classical album of the year: solo or chamber

  • Winner: Janina Fialkowska, Chopin Recital 3

Classical album of the year: large ensemble

  • Winner: Jan Lisiecki with NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Chopin: Works for Piano & Orchestra

Classical album of the year: vocal or choral

  • Winner: Barbara Hannigan with Ludwig Orchestra, Crazy Girl Crazy

Classical composition of the year

  • Winner: Jocelyn Morlock, My Name is Amanda Todd

Rap recording of the year

  • ​Winner: Tory Lanez, Shooters

Dance recording of the year

  • Winner: Nick Fioricci feat. Laurell, Closer

R&B/soul recording of the year

  • Winner: Daniel Caesar, Freudian

Reggae recording of the year

  • Winner: Kirk Diamond, Greater

Indigenous music album of the year

  • Winner: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Medicine Songs

Contemporary roots album of the year

  • Winner: Bruce Cockburn, Bone on Bone

Traditional roots album of the year

  • Winner: The Dead South, Illusion & Doubt

Blues album of the year

  • Winner: MonkeyJunk, Time to Roll

Contemporary Christian/gospel album of the year

  • ​Winner: The Color, First Day of my Life

World music album of the year

  • Winner: Kobo Town, Where the Galleon Sank​​​​

Jack Richardson Producer of the Year Award

  • Winner: Diana Krall: “L-O-V-E,” “Night and Day” (co-producer Tommy Lipuma) (Diana Krall, Turn Up the Quiet)

Recording engineer of the year

  • Winner: Riley Bell: “Get You” feat. Kali Uchis, “We Find Love” (Daniel Caesar, Freudian)

Album artwork of the year

  • ​Winner: Marianne Collins (art director, illustrator), Ian Ilavsky (designer), Steve Farmer (photographer) (Do Make Say Think, Stubborn Persistent Illusions)

Video of the year

  • Winner: Claire Boucher, “Venus Fly” (Grimes)

Electronic album of the year

  • ​Winner: Rezz, Mass Manipulation

Metal/hard music album of the year

  • Winner: Anciients, Voice of the Void

Adult contemporary album of the year

  • Winner: Michael Bublé, Nobody But Me

Comedy album of the year

  • Winner: Ivan Decker, I Wanted to be a Dinosaur

Humanitarian Award

  • Gary Slaight

International Achievement Award

  • Arcade Fire

Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award

  • Denise Donlon

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