Thursday, February 16, 2006


The Usual Suspects

The establishment, once again, dominates the nominations for the 2006 Juno Awards. The Junos - as with most self-absorbed award shows - are in the business of recognizing the safe choices - i.e. crooners, balladers and corporate Can-rock.

The domestic music industry continues to pay lip service to the emerging Canadian indie scene. Bands such as Arcade Fire, Teagan and Sara, Hot Hot Heat, Broken Social Scene, the Stars and the New Pornographers have been receiving rave reviews from international music critics and magazines to little avail. This continues to be lost on the domestic decision makers who would like to continue heaping praise on Bryan Adams, Celine Dion and other grey beards.

The 2006 nominees are no different. Alberta "rockers" Nickelback came out on top with six nominations, while young-fogey crooner Michael Bublé and pop-jazz songstress Diana Krall drew five nods apiece.

There is a new trend emerging, however, which is equally disturbing as continually going to the road-tested well. Canadian Idol contestants are becoming radio fed pablem and they are being rewarded.

2004 winner Kalan Porter and his arch-rival Theresa Sokyrka, 2004 fan favourite Jacob Hoggard and his mall-punk outfit Hedley, and last year's runner-up Rex Goudie — and one American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson, will also be in the running for Juno statuettes.

Not convinced that Juno nominations are lifetime achievement nods? Simply examine the nominees for Band of the Year.

Nickelback will vie for group of the year with the Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo, Our Lady Peace and Theory of a Deadman. You could close your eyes and pretend that it is 1995 with that list. The groups have remained essentially unchanged, give or take a name or two, since the 1990s.

The real crime is in the Fan Choice category. There is no Neil Young - who released one of his best pieces of work with Prairie Wind. There is not a single mention of the new wave of Canadian artists. Playing it safe, the industry selected these titles:

Diana Krall and Michael Bublé are there. Nickelback and Montreal's Green Day Wannabes Simple Plan are on the ballot. Yawn. However, the most insulting is the inclusion of Quebecker turned Vegas stalewart Céline Dion. She hasn't produced any new music save an Air Canada jingle and maybe a refined Dodge commerical, but still she gets the nod. Apparently, Rita McNeil was too busy sweeping East Coast Music Awards to be considered.

Maybe next year, when the awards are in Saskatoon, the Junos can enter the 21 century.

Read the full list of nominees here.

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