Last Tuesday, the Junos announced the nominations for next month’s 2014 awards ceremony at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre.
Among the list of nominees, which featured Juno stalwarts like Celine Dion, Michael Bublé and Blue Rodeo, was the head-scratching inclusion of American-born-and-bred R&B crooner Robin Thicke, the son of Canuck TV star Alan Thicke of Growing Pains fame.
I should probably point out that I’m among the many detractors of Thicke’s music, his nepotistic rise to fame and general sleazeball antics, and I’ll be the first to admit this played a big factor in my outrage at his three nominations, including for Artist of the Year and top pop record for his Blurred Lines LP. But when you cheat on your wife, regularly brag about how large your member is and release a vacuous, misogynistic chart-topping single that panders to the lowest common denominator while simultaneously ripping off one of soul music’s most iconic artists, chances are I won’t be signing up for your fan club.
But let’s forget all of that for a moment and consider exactly what the Junos are supposed to be about, but rarely are. More than just a less glitzy version of the Grammys, the Junos should aspire to be a snapshot of the state of Canadian music at a particular point in time. Unfortunately, the Juno’s major hardware for artist and group of the year tends to lean more towards record sales than the common opinion held by our country’s music fans.
Consider that greasy-haired stadium rockers Nickleback, probably the most reviled band in Canadian rock history, have taken home three of the last nine Group of the Year awards and you start to understand just how out of touch with the general public the Junos can be. Then you’ve got chart-busting singers like 11-time Juno winner Michael Bublé, who tends to skew more towards the older adult contemporary crowd than the majority of the taste-making public (read: young people). Throw in the ongoing trend of awarding iconic artists like Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Blue Rodeo long after their career’s primes — a problem that has plagued the Oscars for years — and you start to wonder if the Junos will ever even make an attempt at being progressive.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been glimmers of hope. In the last few years, it’s seemed like the Junos have attempted to more accurately reflect the widespread opinions of actual Canadian music critics, with indie darlings Arcade Fire taking home best group honours in 2011, and Feist winning Artist of the Year after.
But Thicke’s nod leads one to believe that the Junos are up to their old ways, once again valuing sales over talent and click-bait content over critical opinion. And even if you appreciate the guy’s music, the simple fact remains that Thicke has probably spent more time ogling scantily clad models in his father’s Beverly Hills hot tub than he ever has in the Great White North. (“My dad was single my whole pubescent period,” Thicke told Elle last fall. “He had Ms. Alabama, Ms. Dominican Republic – every week. I was like, ‘Dang, Pops!’”)
Yes, Thicke has a Canadian passport (even though it was reported in 2012 that his “pops” forgot to apply for his son’s dual citizenship between all the naked Jacuzzi romps) and, according to a statement from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, that’s all that’s required to be eligible for a Juno.
What’s really at issue here is the soul (or lack thereof) of the Junos. Do we want our country’s night in music to include a performer who has literally no connection to the culture and musical traditions of Canada? Should we be rewarding style over substance, mainstream success over artistic talent?
The sad truth is it’s probably already too late for the Junos. How do you convince the public to invest in an awards show that the Juno’s selection committee seemingly stopped caring about so many years ago?
Children and language with Dr. I-Chant Chiang
The latest in Quest University’s lecture series at the Whistler Public Library explores how children learn language.
Dr. I-Chant Chiang will discuss theories from psychology and linguistics and will incorporate parental observations.
The discussion is free of charge and begins at 7 p.m.
Banff Mountain Film Festival goes on tour
Travel to the most exotic locales on Earth without leaving your seat when the Banff Mountain Film Festival comes to Millennium Place this Friday and Saturday (Feb. 14 and 15).
Indulge your wanderlust with exhilarating features on the big screen featuring the wildest waters and the highest peaks as you’re swept away to the most captivating places around the globe.
Screenings start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, available at Millennium Place or at www.artswhistler.com.