The JUNO Awards 50th – Jann Arden is inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame
By Keith Sharp
The 2021 Grammy Awards may have shut out The Weeknd. Yet still, he certainly made up for it Sunday by winning five Juno Awards during the 50th Annual Juno Awards Broadcast televised nationally on CBC TV.
The Toronto native’s haul included Top Album for ‘After Hours,’ Top Single for ‘Blinding Light’ Top Canadian Artist, Top R&B Album for `After Hours’ plus Top Songwriter plaudits, which he shared with “Belly” Ahmed Balshe and Jason (“Da Heala”) Quenneville. The only award The Weeknd failed to capture was The Juno Fan Choice Award which went to Shawn Mendes.
Ignored by The Grammy Awards, which failed to nominate him in any category caused some controversy considering “Blinding Light” was on the Billboard’s Top Ten charts for 40 weeks while receiving more than 1.6 billion Spotify streams in the process. The Weeknd added the five Junos to go with his 10 Billboard Awards.
What was puzzling, though, is that The Weeknd chose not to pre-tape any form of acceptance speech or pre-record any performance track even though it was widely speculated that the performer would harvest some awards. Thus probably not winning any fans at the Canadian Academy of Arts And Sciences (CARAS), the show presenters had no one to present to his five awards.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the award show presentation had a cut-and-paste feel to the telecast, with music performances and award presentations streamed live from various points across Canada, Los Angeles, and in the case of Shania Twain, London, England. But as has been the case with recent Juno Award shows, there was a strong emphasis on musical performances, with many new artists introduced to a national audience.
Toronto’s JP Saxe won the Breakthrough Artist Award and performed “If The World Was Ending” with U.S performer Julia Michaels. Crown Lands duo Cody Bowles (lead vocals/drums) and Kevin Comeau won Breakthrough New Group honours and performed “End Of The Road” at Friday’s Opening Awards event. Kitchener’s JJ Wilde the first female winner for the best rock album in 25 years with her breakout release “Ruthless.” A woman hasn’t won this category since Alanis Morissette’s 1995 hit “Jagged Little Pill.” The 17-year old Calgarian social media sensation Tate McRae performed “What If I Told You I Loved You” with Iraqui-Canadian Ali Gatie.
Stratford heart-throb Justin Bieber made his first appearance at the Juno’s since performing “Baby” in 2010, and his performance of “Somebody” (recorded in Los Angeles) rewarded him with winning the Juno Top Pop Album award for “Changes”.
However, with a lot of new faces at the presentation show, it was the old guard who stole the evening. With the much-anticipated performance by The Tragically Hip (guitarists Paul Langlois and Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Faye) supporting long-time friend Leslie Feist on “It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken.
Introduced by the legendary Gordon Lightfoot, The Tragically Hip performed at the yet-to-be-completed, refurbished Massey Hall. The first live performance by The Tragically Hip since the death of lead singer Gord Downie, for the acceptance of the Juno Humanitarian Award. The award was presented to them by the surviving Rush duo of guitarist Alex Lifeson bassist/vocalist and Geddy Lee for The Tragically Hips’ philanthropic activities.
The Tragically Hip was initially not keen to perform “live” again, but when Feist indicated she was willing to join forces with them, the band relented. “We’ve been friends with Leslie for about 20 years, and we would not have played here tonight if she wasn’t here with us,” noted Langlois,”
The Tragically Hip received this honour for their ongoing charitable activities, which have included raising significant funds for the United Way, Camp Trillium, The Sunnybrook Hospital Foundation, Warchild and the Downie Wenjack Fund to raise monies to promote education for Indigenous people.
“The bigger this band got, the more they gave back,” noted Lifeson in helping to present the award.”
Calgarian Jann Arden was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame and performed “Good Mother” from the Hall’s Studio Bell venue. The iconic Anne Murray made a virtual presentation and told the story of, after listening to Arden’s hit “Insensitive” on the radio, Murray invited her on a golf date. “She shows up wearing jeans, a lumber jacket and boots, and there is no way the golf club is going to let her play, dressed like that. So I had to buy her a complete set of golf clothes,” Murray informed.
Speaking of the old guard, 30 Years of Rap Awards at the Junos was celebrated by an all-star cast which featured the likes of Maestro Fresh Wes, Kardinal Offishall, Michie Mee, Jully Brown, NAV, and Haviah Mighty performing a medley of classic rap songs, including “Let Your Backbone Slide” “Turks” and “Ol Time Killin”
The 50th Anniversary Junos had been re-scheduled twice before being presented by way of live-stream on Sunday. CARAS is planning a major event for 2022, with a presentation in Toronto to a live audience.