Almost every year the Juno Awards ceremony ends up a huge disappointment.
When Celine Dion was nominated for six awards in 2008 and Nickelback for five the year after, I just couldn’t find the energy to tune in and watch the show. This year’s event in St. John’s, N.L. is a different story.
Despite Michael Bublé being up for six awards, this may be the most diverse, and representative, list of contenders in years. You can see who’s nominated for what at junoawards.ca, but the likes of Metric, Joel Plaskett, Handsome Furs, Billy Talent, Justin Bieber, Arkells and Drake are all up for hardware.
In the past it was easy to call the winners — Nickelback or Celine Dion — but this year there’s no clear champion. So, I’ll probably get this wrong, but for fun, let’s try to pick some of this weekend’s victors.
Juno fan choice award: Easy, that one’s going to Nickelback. (Somehow they’re still getting nominated for an album that came out in 2008.)
Single of year: These are all great songs, but I’m going with Drake’s Best I Ever Had. While he’s got the international cred that often woos the Canadian Recording Arts and Sciences members, this smooth, mid-tempo hip-hop tune really is award worthy.
Album of the year: I’d like it to go to Billy Talent’s III, a solid rock record that’s more Sabbath than pop-punk, but Bublé’s going to win. Crazy Love topped both the U.S. Billboard chart and Canada’s music charts and it’s actually a pleasant listen.
Artist of the year: This one’s going to Bublé. With six nominations, the Juno voters clearly think Bublé’s a step above the rest. And he’s also the only nominee to appear on Oprah this year. That feat alone deserves an award.
Group of the year: I want Metric to win. Their haunting new wave-ish Fantasies is their best effort since 2003’s Old World Underground, and it’s far better than Hedley’s juvenile pop-punk or the Hip’s tired beer rock. However, Billy Talent’s hard-hitting third record, will win.
New artist of the year: This category is really between two people — Drake and Justin Bieber. The former is the hottest rapper in the hip-hop space right now; the latter is the biggest star in the pop world. It’s too close to call, but I’d like to see Drake win. Bieber will sweep the Junos in 2011.
Alternative album of the year: Metric will win this one, but I think the Handsome Furs’ Face Control is the best of the bunch. It’s gritty, catchy indie rock and easily one of the top albums of 2009.
Pop album of the year: This category belongs to Bieber. Whether you like him or not, his saccharine pop melodies are a lot better than Hedley’s.
Rock album of the year: Billy Talent for sure. If Nickelback wins though — for 08’s Dark Horse — I’m turning the Junos off.
Rap recording of the year: Tough to call. K’Naan’s Troubador wasn’t just a fantastic album, he’s become an international sensation. Drake has two chances to win this category though and with his popularity soaring, he’s going to take the prize.
Bryan Borzykowski is a business and entertainment writer. Follow Metro Music on Twitter @TheMetroMusic