Young blood reigned at the 2015 Juno Awards as Calgary-born electronic artist Kiesza took home three of the prestigious music prizes this weekend in Hamilton, including dance recording, video and breakthrough artist of the year.
Born Kiesa Rae Ellestad, the 26-year-old won the most Junos of the night after rocketing to international success in the past year. Her triumph is largely thanks to the runaway hit Hideaway and its companion one-take music video, which has racked up more than 20 million hits on YouTube.
“I was in complete shock when it was blowing up,” she told reporters on Sunday night. “I only expected my Facebook friends to see the video.” The trained ballerina and former naval reservist who now lives in New York, from where she has watched new Canadian acts’ influence grow on the world stage. “I feel we have a lot of Canadians taking over right now.”
The Canadian music industry’s biggest weekend largely rejected established artists in favour of newer acts. While six major awards were handed out on Sunday night at the FirstOntario Centre, the remaining 36 were presented on Saturday at a separate gala.
Arkells, Hamilton’s hometown heroes, took group of the year and rock album of the year for High Noon. Magic!, the reggae-influenced band from the Toronto area, won the coveted single of the year award for Rude, as well as breakthrough group. R&B sensation The Weeknd won two awards, too, including artist of the year, as did Toronto singer-songwriter Bahamas.
After Magic!’s win, frontman Nasri Atweh said he was wary of riding on the success of just one song. “Our main goal is to build on any positive thing you can,” he said, referring to the success of Rude.
Rock groups Nickelback and Hedley – whose vocalist, Jacob Hoggard, was Sunday night’s host – were left without trophies, despite three nominations each.
While Leonard Cohen, the 80-year-old stalwart singer-songwriter, won album of the year for Popular Problems, he lost the race for three other awards. He didn’t attend.
Neither did Drake, one of Canada’s most active cultural ambassadors this side of 2000, who was passed over yet again by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Science voting body, losing single of the year to Magic!.
The Toronto rapper has shied away from the Junos since 2011, when he hosted but lost in all six categories for which he was nominated. He was nominated for the Juno fan choice award, too, but lost it to crooner Michael Bublé.
The performers were the highlight of Sunday night’s event – including The Weeknd, who sang his song Earned It, from the Fifty Shades of Greysoundtrack, and Kiesza, who played both Sound of a Woman and Hideaway. Mr. Hoggard, who performed with Hedley to start the night, regularly flubbed his lines as host, leading to repeated jokes about his teleprompter’s greatness.
The tone of the scripted jokes, meanwhile, fell flat. After being insulted early on by crowd member Ben Mulroney – son of former prime minister Brian Mulroney and a host of Canadian Idol, which Mr. Hoggard lost – the Hedley frontman retorted by calling him “daddy’s boy.”
He found better success with his self-deprecation after the awards – during which Hedley lost three – telling media, “I’m really capable of losing awards on live television now.”
The evening was capped by Alanis Morissette, who performed three of her biggest hits: Uninvited, You Oughta Know, and Thank U. She was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame earlier on Sunday night, 20 years after her album Jagged Little Pill made her an international superstar.
Her jokes were more well-received than Mr. Hoggard’s. She praised Canadians’ songwriting capabilities: “There’s definitely something in the water,” she said, “besides fluoride.”
After the show, she praised the current state of Canadian music. “I think I never need to worry about Canadian writers,” she said. “We’re a storytelling, confessional, autobiographical bunch by default.”
The 2016 Junos will take place in Calgary.
HAMILTON — The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Mar. 15 2015, 10:03 PM EDT
Last updated Sunday, Mar. 15 2015, 10:06 PM EDT