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2015 JUNO Awards, Music

Photos/Recap: 2015 JUNO Awards Mark Sea Change for Canadian Music

By: Daniel Gerichter (@ZenDonut) –

Host Jacob Hoggard performs a parody of "Thank You" during the 2015 JUNO Awards at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton on March 15, 2015. (Photo: CARAS)

Host Jacob Hoggard performs a parody of “Thank You” during the 2015 JUNO Awards at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton on March 15, 2015. (Photo: CARAS)

Celine Dion did not attend the 2015 JUNO Awards Ceremony, nor did Drake or Nickelback, and last year’s host Michael Bublé only made a video cameo. But it was clear at the ceremony at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, ON last night that the mainstay powerhouses are no longer exceptional – with Canadian talent at an all-time high, star power is the rule.

In the age of Glass Tiger and Alannah Myles, the cornerstone of any JUNOs broadcast was the one or two anomalies who had gained international fame whose fans perceived their homecoming as “slumming it” for the night. It was an ordeal for ceremonial purposes: fans applauded the star just for making an appearance and acknowledging their ‘roots’ and in turn CARAS applauded them for the effort to get them to agree to show up in the first place.

This year is the beginning of a new turn for Canadian music in cultivating and rewarding homegrown talent. There is no scent of obligatory presence when scanning the list of 2015’s nominees and performers: consider Magic! – the Toronto-based winners of Breakthrough Group of the Year, as well as Single of the Year award for “Rude”. Their star has reached a peak of meteoric ascension and their appearance in matching blue sharkskin tuxes indicated this is more than just merely going through the motions. The band performed a medley that included the aforementioned single, plus a section of their new song “No Way No”. Singer Nasri Atweh joked that “the song (‘Rude’) is a huge hit at weddings, which I can’t even understand.”

Or consider Lights, the Timmins-area electro-pop dynamo whose profile is blowing up around the world and took part innumerous events throughout JUNO week, including an inspired performance at Sunday’s Songwriters’ Circle. Moreover, the 28-year old is something of a style icon – a natural fit on the night’s red carpet. At the event itself, Lights’ Little Machines  took home the award for Pop Album of the Year, and performed a combination of her own single “Up We Go” along with a powerful collaboration with Sam Roberts Band for their song “We’re All in This Together”.

Later, Arkells performed a rousing version of their upbeat single “Come to Light” with the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, after which vocalist Max Kerman would quip “I actually did a cover of a Sam Roberts song for a 12thgrade talent show, so to perform in front of him is a huge honour.”The Arkells have built their brand in Canada and the US with an exhaustive touring schedule, earning award for Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year for 2014’s High Noon.

The evening seemed to further highlight a multi-generational shift as the JUNOS awarded an induction to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame to Alanis Morissette almost 20-years-ago to the day that she became one of Canada’s biggest-ever international success stories with her album Jagged Little Pill.  To commemorate her achievements, Morrissette brought the house down with performances of “You Oughta Know”, “Thank You” and “Uninvited”. Despite all the night’s accolades, Morissette remained humble. Asked to recall the musical climate at the time she released Jagged Little Pill, she noted “I think it was a time where people wanted to hear autobiographical, confessional music. I just grabbed my surfboard and went for it.” Scarborough’s The Weeknd has won/earned nominations for almost every kind of music awardand won the JUNO for Artist of the Year and would later send goosebumps throughout the room with a steamy performance of “Earned It”, from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack.

Consider last night another notch for rising star Kiesza, as the Calgary-born dance-star took home Breakthrough Artist of the Year and performed her hit single “Hideaway”. We may see the 26-year-old reach Gaga-like heights, but she is unquestionably connected to her Canadian roots and the LGBT community: “Most club owners won’t let some unsigned singer perform. They want a guarantee. But the LGBT clubs gave me my start. They open their doors and kept them open for me and I’ll never forget that.”

Even host Jacob Hoggard (frontman of Hedley and former Canadian Idol contestant) showed that we don’t need a Hollywood name for that role. Say what you will about Hedley’s earworm songs, the singer has come a long way both in his stage presence and his charisma. “He’s so… high” the singer joked as the camera cut to Sam Roberts, munching on Ruffles All-Dressed chips, eyes glazed over.

Five of the nominees/winners at the 2015 JUNO awards will be performing for some the biggest crowds of their careers this summer at Coachella (Lights, Kiesza, Caribou and Mac Demarco), Bonnaroo, and now WayHome in Ontario (TanyaTagaq, who took home Aboriginal Album of the Year for 2014’s sublime Animism). Other artists like Magic! are currently touring the world with Maroon 5.

For the first time, almost every award and performance at the JUNOs was a spotlight on the calibre of artist that this country churns out regularly, while honouring mantle household names like RUSH and Morrissette added torchbearervalue. Shania Twain and Leonard Cohen had seats waiting for them, just in case, but the real story of the night was that the 2015 JUNO awards were worth celebrating even without them.

2015 JUNO Award Winners

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2015 JUNO Awards Presenters and Performances
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Backstage at the 2015 JUNO Awards
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2015 JUNO Awards Red Carpet
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