TORONTO –Chart-toppers Drake, Shawn Mendes and the Weeknd dominated the Juno Awards nominations on Tuesday, alongside a few cherished favourites of the Canadian music industry.
Here are six other notable developments within this year’s Juno categories:
GENDER GAP: For a second year in a row, artists criticized the Junos for a lack of gender diversity. Pop sisters Tegan and Sara published an open letter to Juno organizers highlighting the lack of female representation in a number of the categories. They urged the industry to more actively consider women, particularly in production categories. “We must do better as it sends an outdated message to the next generation about whose art and voice and message is valuable,” they wrote. Last year, artists including electronic-pop singer Grimes and Amy Millan of Stars raised the same concerns, which inspired the #JunosSoMale hashtag on social media.
DOWNIE SHINES: After revealing his fight with terminal brain cancer last year, Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie became a symbol of resilience as he soldiered through his illness to mount what many assumed to be the band’s final tour. So there was little surprise when the Junos piled on nominations for both the Hip and Downie’s solo work. The band is up for group of year and rock album of year awards, while Downie’s “Secret Path” grabbed nods for songwriter of the year, best adult alternative album and best video. “Secret Path” also got a recording package of the year nomination.
DRAKE’S CREW: While Drake grabbed five nominations himself, his influence was also felt in other categories where his friends garnered recognition. Label mates Partynextdoor and Dvsn –both on Drake’s OVO Sound record label –were recognized in the R&B/soul recording category. The rapper’s longtime collaborator Nineteen85, born Anthony Paul Jefferies, was nominated for producer of the year.
SNUBS APLENTY: In a solid year for R&B/soul music it was surprising to see artists like Majid Jordan missing from the list. The Toronto-based duo rose to fame with their Drake collaborations, but their self-titled debut album was nowhere to be found among this year’s nominees. Rising country star Meghan Patrick was also snubbed for her album “Grace & Grit,” while Halifax’s Ria Mae also missed recognition for her self-titled major label debut.
HAMILTON PUNCHES ABOVE ITS WEIGHT: No, not the stage production. At the Junos, it’s the Ontario city that’s proving a force to be reckoned with. Musicians like the Arkells, rockers Monster Truck and the Dirty Nil all started in the city. Jazz musicians David Braid, Diana Panton and Corin Raymond hang out in the burgeoning music town too, while husband-and-wife duo Whitehorse have also called the city home.
ALESSIA CARA LOVES THE JUNOS: She played “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, but clearly Cara’s international success hasn’t gone to her head. The Brampton, Ont., pop singer will return to perform at the Juno Awards in April, after opening last year’s show. Cara is also nominated in four categories, which seemed to surprise the singer. “This is pretty awesome,” Cara tweeted, “thank u ?TheJUNOAwards for being so nice to me.”